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12-26-2005, 11:57 PM
Dean: Will he return?

Whether Vermeil will be back is next hot topic for KC

By Rick Dean
The Capital-Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A KC radio station deemed it big news Monday -- or so I gathered while listening on hold, the talk radio version of The Green Room -- when Fox Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer reported that Dick Vermeil wouldn't return next year as the Chiefs head coach, and that the decision won't be his.

Glazer also reported that offensive coordinator Al Saunders, the man believed to be Vermeil's recommended successor, won't be considered for the job.

As possible replacements, Glazer throws out the names of college superstars Pete Carroll of Southern Cal and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma. He also lists NFL candidates Herman Edwards of the Jets (should he opt out of his contract, or the Jets opt him out) and Gregg Williams, the former KC-area high school coach now coordinating Washington's defense after failing in a previous tenure as the Bills head coach.

Now, Glazer is a wired-in guy with a good source in the Chiefs hierarchy -- I like his guy, too -- but he's not saying anything a lot of us haven't been saying for weeks. Still, he is a national guy, and when local thought gets a national voice it somehow becomes more authoritative, if not always more factual.

I can't argue with much he's written, other than to doubt that the unnamed player he quotes really knows that Vermeil has made a decision, and what that decision is.

Honestly, I don't think Vermeil has made a decision. I don't think he will until after Sunday's game with Cincinnati, which should be Kansas City's final game of the season.

If the Chiefs win and finish 10-6, Vermeil might see his program headed in a positive direction -- even without a playoff appearance -- and opt for another year at age 70. If they lose and finish 9-7 with three losses in the last four games, he's gone.

After the embarrassment in New York, I pegged Vermeil's chances of returning at 30 percent. But that was before his team's redemption last weekend, both on offense and defense, against a good San Diego team. Vermeil was beaming after that one, and a win Sunday over a good Cincinnati team -- albeit one that may be resting its top players in advance of next week's playoffs -- would have him beaming even more.
And, I do think this will be Vermeil's decision to make.

I really can't see Carl Peterson, the man who begged Vermeil to come out of retirement in 2001, telling his professional big brother that he won't extend his contract. True, I could see him being less than bubbly in the "what do you think?" discussions that will follow Vermeil's fifth season with only one playoff appearance. But pulling the trigger on a guy he loves? Not even Peterson has that kind of hitman in him.

Even so, the winds of change are blowing around Arrowhead, and Vermeil feels them. Wind and change aren't welcomed things at his age, and the sense here is that Vermeil -- like Bill Snyder before him -- will say it's time to give someone else a shot at a franchise in relatively good shape.

Rick DeanFrom a continuation standpoint, it would be ideal if Saunders could move down the hall into the big office. His loyalty to the Chiefs -- he turned down chances to coach the Raiders and Nebraska -- and his imprint on the league's best offense of the past five years call out for promotion
But like Glazer, the hunch here is that Peterson -- having been burned once by the ill-fated promotion of a coordinator -- won't do it again. We'll instead watch Saunders become a head coach elsewhere -- with the Rams, Raiders or Lions -- and time will eventually determine whether Peterson was right or wrong.

There will indeed be big news breaking at Arrowhead in the weeks to come. The view from the Green Room says the local talk shows will be buzzing with an entire offseason of it.

Rick Dean can be reached at rick.dean@cjonline.com.