This is a dangerous time of the year when it comes to coaching "speculation" or gossip or rumors.
For instance, a big-time NFL head coach told me Monday that he had "lock-cold, dead-cinch" information that Steve Spurrier would be the head coach of the Washington Redskins on Tuesday. I doubted his information.
"All right, go ahead and feel like an idiot when you wake up tomorrow and find out that Spurrier is a done deal," the coach said. "And if I'm wrong, you can call me a (expletive) moron."
The latest and most fascinating speculation is that Raiders coach Jon Gruden might be in trouble with Al Davis.
The next day, I did. Only I did not use an expletive. And we both laughed. He joked, "I guess that's why you're inside the huddle, and I'm on the sidelines."
The latest and most fascinating speculation is that Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden might be in trouble with his boss, Al Davis -- the idea being that Davis is blaming Gruden for the team's late-season failures due to the coach's flirtation with other jobs.
A Raiders official said Thursday, "I've never heard that around here."
Besides, Gruden has never personally pursued any job other than the one he's got. He has stayed true to his players and his focus is always on the next opponent. Still, in Raiderville, you never know.
With that stated, I feel pretty good about sharing what I've heard about the coaching carousel. As of Thursday, here's what I've got:
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose Saturday to the Philadelphia Eagles, it is expected that Tony Dungy will be fired.
Bill Parcells is the first choice of Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer to succeed Dungy. If Parcells decides against a return to coaching or opts for another job like San Diego, then Spurrier is a logical candidate.
Spurrier is most fascinated with the Carolina Panthers because they present the greatest challenge, but he doesn't like everything he has heard about their landscape.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is in pursuit of Spurrier, but Spurrier is holding him off while he surveys the field.
Snyder was prepared to buy out Schottenheimer on Monday, but the coach caught the owner totally off-guard with a conciliatory position that was open to changes in the front office that will include a bigger voice for Snyder in the football decisions.
Yes, Snyder has contemplated asking Bobby Beathard to return as the Redskins GM, but it's a long shot. If Beathard returns, Schottenheimer is out.
The San Diego Chargers are intent on signing a proven head coach who has at least five years of experience. Parcells is their top candidate.
If Steve Mariucci and the San Francisco 49ers can't resolve some differences -- such as the team's long-term commitment to him -- there is a possibility Mooch would ask permission to speak with the Chargers.
If the Chargers can't land a Parcells or Mariucci, offensive coordinator Norv Turner probably will be the new coach.
If Dungy is free, he will be an attractive candidate for Carolina and the Indianapolis Colts.
Colts president Bill Polian will conduct a secret search. LSU coach Nick Saban has not been contacted. A sleeper college coach to remember is Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. Dungy would be attractive because his defensive schemes are fairly simple and fundamental and he is friends with Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore.
If Polian goes the defensive assistant coach route in order to keep his offensive staff together, look for Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache to get serious looks.
As much appeal as Spurrier has, Carolina holds Saban in equally high regard, but Saban is expected to stay at LSU. Again, Dungy would be a victory for owner Jerry Richardson. Tennessee's Phil Fulmer is another candidate. The sleepers might be last year's hot candidates, Giants defensive coordinator John Fox and Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.
That's all for now. Stay tuned.