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As Shanahan has learned, a fine legacy can be tarnished by a poor showing. Cowher’s legacy is secure if he never coaches again. But there’s that thing that drives these men again, the ego and competitive juices that make them think they can succeed where others haven’t.

One of the reasons Cowher retired when he did was to spend more time with his family. His wife Kaye died in 2010 after a battle with cancer. His three daughters are grown.

The Cowhers are an athletic family. Kaye and all three daughters played basketball. Daughter Meaghan is married to Kevin Westgarth of the Carolina Hurricanes. Daughter Lindsay is engaged to Ryan Kelly of the Lakers. The point is the entire family understands the competitive juices that come with coaching.

If Cowher is indeed ready to give up the stress-free life of an analyst and return to the sidelines, that’s probably the best choice for the Skins. There won’t be any debate about who’s in charge, won’t be a stigma of being Dad’s choice. If he wants the job, give him the whistle and get out of the way.