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COLUMN

No obvious ideal candidate for Colts

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For more on the Colts, follow Reggie Hayes on Twitter at reggiehayes1

Team hopes to hire before Super Bowl

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 11:13 am

I'll tell you my fantasy Indianapolis Colts coach: Jim Harbaugh.

Can you imagine Captain Comeback coming back, igniting the Colts, reuniting with Andrew Luck and building a new dynasty? Fans won't soon forget the Peyton Manning era, but that would go a long way toward changing their sight lines.

The Colts aren't going to get Harbaugh. He might swing by while winning the Super Bowl next month, but he won't be sticking around.

And that's the biggest problem for the Colts now that they've fired Jim Caldwell after three years. The obvious ideal candidate doesn't exist.

It'll be up to Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Ryan Grigson to find the coach and explain why he's ideal.

Grigson said Tuesday he has a short list in his mind, as he should since he already decided Caldwell wasn't the man. He said he's looking for “a leader.” That's good. Few teams thrive with a follower or an observer at the helm.

“I don't know many people in my position in personnel that don't have names in their head,” Grigson said. “I would be lying to you if I said that you don't have people in the back of your mind that you know are darn good football coaches, darn good leaders and darn good teachers. Everybody is different, but you know in the back of your mind and a lot of times that reflects on your intuitiveness and your instincts about the game and who coaches it.”

Names, please?

“There will be a time and a place for that,” Grigson said.

Until Grigson reveals his choice – no one believes he'll supply an actual wish list for public consumption – we're left to guess what the next coach of the Colts will look like.

Here's my two cents: He'll be young, or relatively young, and charismatic, the type of coach who rallies his team, inspiring rookies and hardened professionals alike. He'll likely have an NFL background as a coordinator, probably on offense, but perhaps on defense. He'll be innovative and forward-thinking. Like Grigson, he'll be part of the next generation.

It's possible the Colts could turn to a college coach. But for every Harbaugh that works out, there are about a dozen that coach three years, fail and head back to campus.

Now, if the Colts could snare a not-too-young, not-too-old pro like former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, they'd be foolish not to give it a long look. But the longer coaches like Cowher and Jon Gruden are out of the coaching and into the analyst booth, the less likely they'll jump back into the 24-7 coaches lifestyle.

The guesses are out there, including Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and even former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.

Chances are it'll be none of the above but a name that doesn't immediately come to mind. After all, how many outside of extreme NFL insiders and his family knew Grigson's story a week ago?

“I don't mean to be vague, but I'm just telling you that we want to get the best guy for the job,” Grigson said. “It's going to be me and Jim (Irsay) looking at that man eyeball-to-eyeball and getting a feel for what they are made of and whether this is the man to lead us in the new direction of the franchise. It sounds intense because it is. That is how much we care about this.”

Grigson said he would ideally like to have the new coach in place before the Super Bowl, but also doesn't want to make a hasty decision. That deliberate style is the reason the Colts left Caldwell sitting in limbo for more than two weeks after Bill and Chris Polian were fired.

The Colts haven't been in this position since Irsay fired Jim Mora after the 2001 season. That year, he called Tony Dungy, who'd been fired by Tampa Bay, and essentially offered him the job on the spot.

There doesn't seem to be a coach of similar stature waiting for a call today. It's too bad Harbaugh just got started in San Francisco.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. E-mail Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com