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ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rams’ Coaching Search Could Include High-Profile Names Like Jim Harbaugh, Jon Gruden

The Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher on Monday, and are now searching for a new head coach.

Rams’ Coaching Search Could Include High-Profile Names Like Jim Harbaugh, Jon Gruden

Special teams coordinator John Fassel is currently serving as the team’s interim coach.

This search will likely be very different from most others in the NFL, for a variety of reasons.

First, the opening is for a job in the country’s No. 2 market and that evidently implies a lot of potential, particularly with a $2.6-billion stadium set to open in 2019. There’s also the appeal of working with No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff, who has had a slow start but remains viewed as a player with much potential.

Second, there’s the fact that Stan Kroenke, one of the league’s richest owners, has so much at stake with the Inglewood Stadium, and selling personal seat licenses, that he will need to think of big names for the head coaching position.

Several household names have already begun to appear. Among the most interesting people rumored to be taking the job are Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh and Super Bowl-winning-coach-turned-broadcaster Jon Gruden, both of whom specialize in working with quarterbacks. Hiring either would likely mean the Rams would be paying their new head coach over $10 million per year, which is significantly more than Fisher had been earning. (Fisher was earning about $6.5 million annually, a hefty sum for a coach whose Rams career consisted of five straight losing seasons.)

In his second season with the Wolverines, Harbaugh is NCAA football’s highest-paid coach at $9 million a year. Previously, he coached the San Francisco 49ers, whom he led to a Super Bowl and three back-to-back NFC title games.

One big name who has weighed in on Harbaugh as a possible choice for the Los Angeles coaching job is former Rams Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, who was recently embroiled in a he-said/she-said in which he claimed Fisher banned him from the sidelines at the team’s games, although Fisher and his staff denied this.

“People are talking about Jim Harbaugh,” Dickerson said. “That would be a good fit. He develops quarterbacks. He had Alex Smith in San Francisco. He had an offensive line he had to rebuild. It’s almost the same situation you have here.”

Those close to Gruden have stated he would be open to a Rams pitch, and that he could be interested in a return to coaching after seven years as color analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” He is also familiar with quarterbacks, resuscitated a dead Oakland Raiders franchise, and won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay at the end of the 2002 season (by defeating his former Raiders team).

Plus, Gruden and Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ top executive, worked together with the Buccaneers.

Other names circulating include New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The Rams lost their last two games against these two teams.

In 2009, McDaniels was hired at age 33 to replace Mike Shanahan– Kyle’s father– as coach of the Denver Broncos. His teams went 8-8 and 3-9 before he was fired late in the 2010 season. McDaniels was also offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams in 2011 and has now had that same job for nearly four years with the Patriots.

McDaniels was spotted hanging around the Ram’s locker room, talking to his former colleagues following the team’s road loss to the Patriots in Week 13. This seems strange, considering Fisher was already on thin ice.

Nevertheless, Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell is believed to be interested in McDaniels, so the Rams’ being on the hunt for a coach could impact how the Jaguars deal with Coach Gus Bradley, who is 14-47 in nearly four seasons.

In his press conference Monday, Demoff said the investment in the Rams’ offense doesn’t necessarily mean the franchise will hire an offensive-minded head coach to replace the defensive-minded Fisher. The Rams are ranked 32nd on offense.

“You may find an unbelievable head coaching candidate who you meet with and believe is absolutely perfect for the Los Angeles Rams who has a defensive background,” Demoff said. “I think what’s most important is they have a plan to maximize the offense.”

Other potential candidates amongst the NFL’s offensive coordinators include the Seattle Seahawks’ Darrell Bevell and the Detroit Lions’ Jim Bob Cooter. 

Other non-offensive candidates include Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith and former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 17: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for usports.org. NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.