- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2019

ASHBURN — Urban Meyer didn’t have to do much to put his name into the thick of the Redskins’ coaching search.

All it took, it turns out, was for Meyer to attend a game at FedEx Field and sit in owner Dan Snyder’s suite.

Meyer’s presence at Washington’s 37-27 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles fueled speculation the former Ohio State coach is a candidate to become the Redskins’ next coach. This was the same man, after all, who publicly admitted weeks earlier to “absolutely” having interest in coaching the Dallas Cowboys. If Meyer is interested in the NFL, then perhaps he’s considering the Redskins, as well.

Wide receiver and former Buckeye Terry McLaurin insisted Meyer was only at the stadium as his “guest,” but the longtime college coach certainly fits the profile if the Redskins want to make a splash this winter.

In what could a busy offseason for coaching hires, Meyer is one of the bigger names on the market — if the 55-year-old actually wants to return to the sideline. He joins other notable college coaches — Lincoln Riley, Matt Rhule, David Shaw among them — who have been linked to a possible jump to the pros.

Meyer’s visit prompts the question: What exactly are the Redskins looking for in their next head coach?

With a 3-11 record, the Redskins face a rebuild of the roster this offseason, though lately, the team’s younger players have started to shine. Dwayne Haskins is coming off his best game as a pro — throwing for 261 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles — and Washington will need someone to further guide the rookie’s development.

Meyer would be a logical choice, given he coached Haskins at Ohio State. He also has ties with other players such as quarterback Alex Smith, who was seated next to Meyer during Sunday’s game in the owner’s box. Meyer coached Smith at the University of Utah and helped him become the first overall pick in the draft.

Hiring a big-name college coach always comes with risk. Washington found that out when the team hired Steve Spurrier in 2002. Spurrier lasted just two seasons, went 12-20 and clashed with Snyder over who should play quarterback.

Some college coaches have a difficult time adjusting to the NFL. Nick Saban went 15-17 in two seasons with the Miami Dolphins before quitting to go to Alabama. Chip Kelly first seemed like an offensive genius out of Oregon, but lasted four seasons in the NFL before returning to college.

If the Redskins want to avoid hiring someone from the college ranks, they’ll have plenty of choices at the pro level.

Ron Rivera, Marvin Lewis and Mike McCarthy are all established coaches who are currently unemployed. After being fired from the Panthers a few weeks ago, Rivera has already said he wants to coach next season. McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl with Green Bay, also wants back in.

The Redskins, meanwhile, are also reportedly interested in Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy — with one NFL insider going as far to call him the front-runner. Bieniemy, 50, overlapped with Smith on the Chiefs and also was the running backs in Minnesota when Adrian Peterson was there.

Bieniemy, though, doesn’t have quite the star power as Meyer.

The coach’s brief appearance at Sunday’s game ended when he ducked out the back to avoid reporters.

On Monday, Fox News’ Brit Hume chimed in on Twitter about Meyer’s appearance, claiming the former coach told him he plans to stay out of football for now.

“Meyer told me he was in town for a WH Christmas party, after attending the Army-Navy game Saturday,” Hume tweeted. “Asked if he might consider the Redskins job. ‘I think I’m done coaching,’ he said. He said he knew his presence at the game Sunday would trigger speculation.”

Until the Redskins hire a candidate that’s not Meyer, expect the noise to continue.

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