One of the hottest assistants out there right now is Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator, Todd Bowles. He has been on the hot list for a couple seasons now and this year he is hotter than ever.
I would be surprised if this isn't the year Bowles secures a head coaching position. Under his tutelage, the Cardinals defense is among the best in the NFL. That team has been carried through the season by the defense, to the point where it hasn't even matter what happens on offense, they still manage to win.
Bowles may be the hot head coaching name at the moment, but this isn't some sudden flare up and he isn't just a flash in the pan.
In his two seasons as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals, they have been a top defense, ranked 7th in 2013, and 4th this season in points allowed. They were ranked 17 the year before he arrived and their current rankings are the highest the Cardinals franchise has had in two decades.
Prior to taking the Defensive Coordinator position under Bruce Arians in Arizona, Bowles was a longtime defensive backs coach, for several NFL teams over an 8-year span.
In an interesting twist of fate, it was Bowles to took over as Interim Head Coach for Sparano in 2011 when Sparano was fired midseason.
That tie with Sparano leads to an interesting possibility. Might Sparano be willing to step back into the role of Assistant Head Coach and Offensive line coach under Bowles? Sparano is the only coach on the Raiders staff that will still be under contract after this season.
It's something to think about, though it seems like a long shot considering how seldom such a situation occurs. It's hard to cede control of a team once you've been the head coach, especially when you'd be taking a backseat to a guy who used to work under you. But it's an intriguing possibility none the less.
Mark Davis said recently that he would begin the interview process within a couple days of the end of the season when assistant coaches on playoff teams are allowed time to interview for jobs. Bowles would be one of those assistants.
One obvious reason Bowles is very likely to at least interview for the Raiders job is to fulfill the Rooney Rule. Often times minority coaches just get shuttled in and out for no other reason than to satisfy the Rooney Rule which states teams must interview at least one minority candidate whenever there is a head coaching position open. But you can bet Bowles' visit will be more than a house call. He is a viable candidate.
How this would likely go down is if the Raiders have their heart set on perhaps Jim Harbaugh, they have to have interviewed Bowles before they can offer Harbaugh the job. On the other hand, should Harbaugh leave for Michigan or elsewhere, Bowles is a viable option for the job.
He may not be the big splash some are hoping for, but he is an experience NFL coach who has paid his dues and earned his shot.