- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009

All over the NFL, every owner whose team is not in the playoffs should be making a New Year’s resolution - call Bill Cowher.

That includes Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Cowher, the former Super Bowl champion coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is again the hot candidate for all coaching vacancies and nonvacancies around the league.

He reportedly turned down overtures from the Cleveland Browns for their coaching job and also told the New York Jets he is not interested in the job that opened with the firing of Eric Mangini.

That doesn’t mean Cowher isn’t interested in a job. In fact, if Cowher ever really wants to return to coaching - and break the bank doing it - this offseason is the time.

At least six teams have openings now: the Browns, Jets, Lions, Broncos, Raiders and Rams. And the Chiefs’ Herm Edwards may be out once they hire a new general manager.

The 51-year-old Cowher, who has been an analyst for CBS the past two seasons, could set off a bidding war the likes of which we have never seen for a head coach and perhaps become the first $10 million-a-year sideline boss. He went 161-99-1 in 15 seasons with the Steelers, capped by the Super Bowl championship, and his presence brings the kind of credibility that sells tickets.

He doesn’t appear to have the taste for such an auction, at least not based on the reports that he turned down the Jets and Browns. But it may be simply a case of the right fit - total control, which it appeared he would not have had in Cleveland or in New York. You have to think the Broncos, after the surprising firing of Mike Shanahan, will make a run at Cowher, who has become the new Bill Parcells offseason coaching diva in football.

Parcells himself may soon be available to run another team: He reportedly has an opt-out clause that will kick in if the Dolphins are sold, which could happen in the next few weeks.

Oh, yes, and the man considered to be among the best football personnel bosses in the game, New England’s Scott Pioli, is available as well and being courted by the Browns. Mike Holmgren is stepping down in Seattle, don’t forget. And Shanahan is looking for work.

It’s a remarkable collection of coaching and management star power on the market - Cowher, Parcells, Pioli (Parcells’ son-in-law), Holmgren, Shanahan - and it is hard to believe Snyder will just sit on his hands and let Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn conduct business as usual.

This is an owner who is attracted to star power and whose franchise now is bordering on the same credibility crisis it suffered in the wake of Steve Spurrier’s disastrous two years.

Snyder managed to come up with the return of Joe Gibbs that time. He has shown the ability to close a deal and work candidates over until they take an offer they can’t refuse - witness Spurrier and Gibbs.

Snyder reached out to Cowher last year, making it difficult to believe he is not going to pick up the phone and gauge Cowher’s interest again. Bringing in Cowher is the only move for which Snyder would not lose credibility if he jettisoned Zorn after just one season.

But replacing Cerrato, the Redskins’ executive vice president of football operations, with just about anybody would increase the credibility of the franchise. And supplanting the woeful Cerrato with the likes of Pioli, with three Super Bowl championships on his New England resume, or Holmgren, who built the Seahawks into a winning franchise, would earn as much good will with fans as naming Cowher head coach.

If Snyder does nothing with all this talent and star power out there for the taking, then Redskins fans may be making their own New Year’s resolutions - to spend money on a big-screen, high-definition television instead of season tickets at FedEx Field.

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