The Arizona Cardinals might one day look back on Jan. 18, 2013, as the day new coach Bruce Arians brought championship football to the desert.
We cannot know whether that will happen.
What we do know at this early stage is that the Cardinals' coaching search came at a steep price. Ray Horton's firing as defensive coordinator, announced by Arians on Friday, removes from the equation the No. 1 reason for optimism coming out of an otherwise forgettable 5-11 season.
The publicly visible part of the process has gone like this:
Fire Whisenhunt and most of the offensive staff.
Announce plans to interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Watch Reid become the Kansas City Chiefs' head coach without visiting Arizona.
Interview Horton and several offensive coordinators from other teams.
Watch the other seven teams with head-coaching vacancies make their hires.
Hire Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
Announce Horton's firing in the best interests of team unity.
Six years ago, Whisenhunt inherited defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast even though the 2006 Cardinals' defense had ranked 29th in both yards and points allowed. Horton ideally would have remained in Arizona to build upon a promising first two seasons with the team. Circumstances were different this time, however, and keeping Horton wasn't realistic in the end.
The Cardinals wanted change and they've gotten it.
Todd Bowles will be the Cardinals' defensive coordinator. He was the Philadelphia Eagles' secondary coach last season, taking over as defensive coordinator when the team fired Juan Castillo in October.