After parting ways with Gary Kubiak, the Texans have begun the process of finding a new head coach.
"Those prospects that are not under contract in the NFL are people we can visit with so we'll start this process immediately," Founder, Chairman, and CEO Bob McNair said Friday.
For candidates currently under contract in the NFL, the interviewing process will have to wait until the season is over. When asked about the possibility of hiring a college coach, McNair was clear about his criteria.
"We would like someone who has had head coaching experience, but has also had NFL experience," McNair said. "It's a combination of those two things would be the ideal situation and there are people who meet those conditions."
Experience will be key to finding the Texans' next head coach. A coordinator may be able to make the transition to head coach, but McNair would rather have someone with a proven track record.
"Well, experience shows that those people who were selected to be a head coach in the NFL, met with more success if they had had head-coaching experience," McNair said. "And if you take someone who has been a coordinator, you're basically moving them from a lower level of management, let's say, to a higher level of management that they've never been in before. So, there's a question mark as to whether they can elevate their performance to be able to handle those additional responsibilities, and some people can't."
Interim head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is also on the list of candidates to be interviewed. At age 66, Phillips has an 82-61 regular season record as head coach.
"He's got an outstanding record and he's a fine coach," McNair said. "We'll be interviewing him and we'll be interviewing a number of other people."
Other people could include Lovie Smith, former head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012 who has an regular season record of 81-63. Smith won three NFC North division titles (2005, 2006, 2010) and an NFC Championship (2006) before being fired in January. Smith, 55, also served as the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator under head coach Mike Martz from 2001-2003. When asked about the possibility of Smith, McNair acknowledged that the Texas-native fit the criteria as did several others.
"There are some people who are not coaching now that will be considered and Lovie is a good example," McNair said. "He's a good coach and one of several. It will be best for the whole process to keep it confidential as to who we actually decide to visit with as we go forward."
McNair also outlined some intangible qualities that the Texans were looking for in their ideal candidate.
"We're looking for a coach that is bright, ethical, who's culture fits in with the culture of our organization, innovative, flexible, able to make adjustments, works with great energy and enthusiasm and very positive in his approach," McNair said. "Surely that person is out there and we'll find that person."