I continue to hear national sportswriters and local newsmen pontificate about the challenges the Buffalo Bills must overcome in order to lure Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, or any of the other big name coaches out there to the Ralph Wilson Stadium sidelines. It's time to put all the rumors and truths down
on paper in pixels to discuss them one by one:
1. Ralph Wilson is cheap
With reports that Ralph Wilson is now willing to spend up to $10M to hook the proverbial big tuna in his quest for the next Bills coach, you would think that this obstacle might be in the rearview mirror. Not so. If Wilson is going to cut back on player spending in order to pay the new coach such a high figure, the Bills will be treading water instead of moving forward.
2. The weather
Quick: Name the first thing you think of when you think of Buffalo. If you live anywhere other than in the city or surrounding communities, chances are your first thought is feet-high snow drifts on the Weather Channel when a big storm hits in January. Like it or not, people around the country think Buffalo is constantly covered in snow from October to April (or longer). They also think it's colder than deep space in the 716 area code. It's late November and still in the 50s here, people!
Since Jim Kelly retired, the Bills have tried a myriad of methods to obtain the next great franchise quarterback. (For further proof, check out twoeightnine's most recent T-shirt design.) It's hard to win without solid quarterback play in the NFL, and these coaches know it. If they are coming out of retirement, they will be expected to win ASAP - and to do that, they'll need a good QB. Looking at Buffalo's roster, I have my doubts they see that quarterback on the roster now.
4. Ralph Wilson is a meddlesome owner
This one annoys me. Sure, Ralph might call you and check in during the football week. It's his millions on the line, after all. But you can't tell me an owner like Dan Snyder, Jerry Jones, or about 25 or so others don't talk to their coach on at least a weekly basis to see how things are going. You have to deal with your boss, guys. Do what you're supposed to do and it shouldn't be a problem.
5. There's nothing to do in Buffalo
We hear this one a lot with free agents. We have to overpay them simply to put up with spending half their year in Buffalo. I've never had a problem finding something to do in Buffalo. I hear Dave and Buster's is a blast. There are bars, nightclubs, the arts and everything else that a big city has. It's just, ya know, a little different.
6. The Bills need a major rebuild
Really? Three Bills losses were by less than one score. On top of that, they were down by only a field goal to the Saints when the fourth quarter started, led the Texans at the start of the fourth, and were tied with the Titans at the start of the fourth. If there is enough talent on the team to hang with the big boys for three quarters, there's enough to win those games with the right game plan and coaching. (If those games are wins for the Bills, they are 9-1, by the way.)
7. Buffalo isn't high profile
You're not going to get endorsements as a player on the Bills, but do coaches really need that? You're going to be the center of the sports world in Buffalo. That should feed the ego pretty nicely. Not only that, you would get major publicity just for being in Buffalo - and if you somehow turned the team around, you would be deified in western New York and on ESPN. Just look at what T.O. did when he signed. He didn't even have to do anything.
8. The division is too hard
You face the Patriots twice a year. Thus ends the discussion of the big, bad AFC East. The Dolphins and Jets are both in their own process of rebuilding with inexperienced quarterbacks. It's not like they have a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame QB. Every division is going to have tough games and tough teams to play. This is the lamest of the lame excuses.
9. The fans
One of the franchise's best selling points is the loyalty of the fan base. That loyalty is a double-edged sword, however. Just this year, a Bills player had his lawn vandalized after making an on-field mistake, while another player's house was broken into during a game. A group of fans erected a billboard to get the coach and front office members fired.
10. Ralph Wilson (and the team's) long term viability
To me, this is the most damning reason for a big-name coach to stay away. You don't know if your boss is going to live to see the end of your contract. You don't know if you will get along with the new owner(s). You don't know if the team will move when it's sold. It's like college recruiting. Jim Tressell has an easier time recruiting right now at Ohio State than Charlie Weis does at Notre Dame simply because the high school players know Tressell is going to stay at OSU for a while, whereas Weis is going to be done at the end of the year.