Tennessee Titans: James Franklin

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- So who’s next in line to be coach of the Tennessee Titans?

My first choice would be Stanford coach David Shaw, but I don’t think the Titans could lure him away from Palo Alto.

General manager Ruston Webster is connected to a lot of coaches who could be candidates from his time in the front offices in Tampa Bay and Seattle.

[+] EnlargeRich Bisaccia
AP Photo/James D. SmithCowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is a possible candidate for the Titans' head job.
I pondered many of those connections on Christmas Eve. Lovie Smith is off the board, hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His ties to ownership there would have made it tough for the Titans to get involved even if they had fired Munchak earlier and liked him. Jim Mora appears set on staying at UCLA.

But a few other coaches Webster knows could surface. Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is a name I’ve already heard Webster will consider. Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden or Chicago Bears offensive coordinator and line coach Aaron Kromer might be of interest.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, whose current office is only a couple miles from LP Field, is a high-energy coach who’s very popular in Nashville. He has a bit of NFL experience. Adam Schefter says Franklin interviewed with the Houston Texans before they hired Bill O'Brien.

A Pennsylvania native, Franklin is reportedly in line to talk to Penn State about its opening. I feel he’s a better fit with college kids than the NFL, but Webster certainly could feel differently.

Like Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean before me, I’ve heard Bisaccia and Seattle Seawhawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are guys Webster is likely to interview.

Before the Titans hired Munchak in 2011, I wrote about why I thought Bisaccia would be a good candidate for the job. It included a rave review from Jon Gruden and Derrick Brooks. (And a bad assessment by me of Raheem Morris.)

From what I’ve heard about Bisaccia, I think he might be a Franklin-type in the energy department. He’d bring far more experience coaching guys in the pro ranks. Already on Twitter some are crushing the idea. I’m asking them if John Harbaugh was a bad hire for the Baltimore Ravens. He won the Super Bowl with Baltimore last year and was hired by the Ravens with a resume that was predominantly overseeing special teams with the Philadelphia Eagles. A top special teams coordinators should have head coaching qualities, and it's an outside-the-box idea worthy of consideration.

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton have been popular names with regard to remaining openings and it would be no surprise if Webster considered them. Greg Roman of the San Francisco 49ers is among the most popular offensive coordinators in the NFL right now.

One guy I do not think will draw Webster's attention: San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the former coach of the Cardinals. I don't think Webster is a big fan.

Mike Mularkey (not working this season) and New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell interviewed with the Titans when Munchak was hired in 2011. Mularkey got the Jacksonville Jaguars job in 2012 and was a one-year disaster.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If Mike Munchak isn't back as the coach of the Tennessee Titans, could he wind up at his alma mater?

According to David Jones the Patriot-News of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Munchak would be a leading candidate should Bill O'Brien leave Penn State for an NFL job and has let the school know he'd be interested if something opens.

Greg Schiano, who could lose his job as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has also let the university know he'd be interested if he was free if O'Brien leaves, according to the report. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, who's from Pennsylvania, is not in danger of losing his job, but has let it be known he would be curious if there was an opening, according to Jones.

It's hard to get a read on what Munchak's fate will be. New Titans team president and CEO Tommy Smith has pledged to take a thorough look starting next week, once the season is over.

The Titans are 21-26 in his three years, but just 2-20 against teams that have finished with winning records. Sunday in Jacksonville was just Tennessee's second AFC South win in the past two years.

The Titans finish the season Sunday with a home game against Houston, the worst team in the NFL and a team that beat the Titans in overtime in Week 2.

O'Brien will be a hot prospect for open NFL jobs. The Titans should consider him if they decide to part with Munchak.

A former Bill Belichick assistant in New England, O'Brien has done fine work restoring Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the university. He developed a walk-on quarterback, Matt McGloin into a quality quarterback who's had some success with the Oakland Raiders this year.

Munchak is from Scranton, Pa., and was drafted by the Houston Oilers out of Penn State in 1982. He's been with the Oilers/Titans as a player ever since. His name surfaced after Joe Paterno was removed as the school's head coach. But I do not buy Jones' report that Munchak was "on the verge" of being hired to replace his college coach. Munchak was a year into a four-year deal with the Titans.

Munchak would be a fine representative of the university, but I have no idea how he'd be as a recruiter or as a college coach.

If he is fired by the Titans with one year left on his contract, the Penn State job would be a real coup. He has no experience as a play-caller, and I am confident he'd be in high demand as an NFL offensive line coach but nothing more.

O'Brien could be linked to several other NFL openings. The Houston job is already open. Minnesota and Detroit are among the other teams that could be hiring.