Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan:
Of course, there are circumstances that make the pairing seem odd. Would Pioli, after finally getting the chance to be "The Man," let such a big name ride shotgun with him? Would Shanahan be able to concede final say to get back in the game?
The answers could be yes, and yes. Pioli is plenty big enough a man to not worry about who’s getting credit. And Shanahan, after his last few years in Denver, might be intrigued to work with a top-notch personnel man like Pioli.
Pioli has the utmost respect for Shanahan, who went 5-2 against the Pioli-Belichick Patriots and dealt them their first playoff loss.
Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley:
Haley also has age going for him. He’s 41, meaning he could be a coach Pioli can work with for a decade. On the other hand, Shanahan is 56.
With a young team in place, Haley would have room to grow with his roster, and his fire-and-brimstone approach would be good for Chiefs players. This, though, would like spell the end for vets Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson, which might be coming anyway.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz:
Word came earlier this month that Ferentz intends to stay at Iowa.
So unless Pioli can convince Ferentz, with whom he remains good friends, to change his mind—and that’s unlikely—this option appears out.
Dolphins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni:
He worked under Parcells with the Cowboys from 2005-07, and was part of the development of two star players there—Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, serving first as tight ends coach and then linebackers coach. Pasqualoni moved to the Dolphins as defensive coordinator this season, and Joey Porter had a career year under his watch. Young players like Channing Crowder also reaped the benefits of his teaching skills.
A history under Parcells would help Pasqualoni, as would the fact he and Pioli were staff mates at Syracuse in 1988 and ’89. But Pasqualoni will turn 60 in August, which could work against him.
Dolphins assistant head coach Todd Bowles:
Another Parcells guy, and a man who’s commanding presence is reflective of the Tuna.
Bowles could install the culture Pioli would like to have. He also could bring David Lee to be his offensive coordinator. It was Lee who brought the Wildcat offensive scheme to Miami and developed Tony Romo as Cowboys quarterbacks coach.
Bowles is 45 and played for Joe Gibbs with the Redskins. He has a solid reputation for developing players. He coached three Pro Bowl players as secondary coach in Dallas, and nurtured a young group of defensive backs in Miami. That would be a huge plus with a young team.