As the coaching carousel continues to spin, Bears fans wonder who will land in the big chair at Halas Hall.
The major shuffling of head coaches this offseason leaves a number of qualified candidates who could possibly fill the job. Here is a look at many of the candidates who could be on Bears GM Phil Emerys interview list.
While the household name may seem enticing to Bears fans, a number of questions would have to be answered before Saban could even be considered a possibility.
After reconstructing his contract in 2012, Saban is due to make 5.32 million per year with a 100,000 increase each year until 2020 at Alabama. If matched, this contract would make Saban the sixth highest paid coach in the NFL, a hefty sum of money for a college coach who has already tried his hand in the NFL and not gleaned much success.
Sabans two-year stint in Miami could serve as a deterrent for a number of NFL GMs looking to hire an experienced NCAA coach. After winning his second national title last season, Saban was asked about the possible jump to the NFL, to which he answered, We're staying at Alabama and we're not interested in going anyplace else. We weren't interested in going anyplace else at the end of the season, so it really doesn't matter."
Im sure Saban would consider taking another stab at the NFL if the price was right, but it would be tough leaving a program that has already erected a statue in his honor.
Probability: Low to none
University of Oregon headman Chip Kelly has been with the program for six years, four as head coach. All signs point to the fact that Kelly is ready and willing to make the jump to the NFL.
Kelly is largely responsible for the up-tempo spread offense that has taken the college game by storm and even begun to trickle into the NFL. As this philosophy begins to make the transition to the next level, so will Chip Kelly. The Browns and Eagles have already asked for permission to interview Kelly upon the conclusion of the season. While I do think Kelly will take the next step in his coaching career, it will not be towards Chicago.
The Bears will look to hire an offensive-minded head coach but the Chip Kelly offense could be a culture shock rather than a culture change. His style of play would make much more sense in a place like Philadelphia that is looking for major change.
Continuing with our theme of collegiate coaches who could make the jump to the next level, Penn State head coach Bill OBrien is a name coming up in a number of different circles around the league.
But he confirmed Thursday that he would not be "one and done," choosing instead to stay at Penn State for another year.
Probability: Not gonna happen
The Fighting Irish find themselves in a position they have not been in for nearly a quarter century and their success has not gone unnoticed. Head coach Brian Kelly has popped up on a number of NFL radar screens.
But dont go crazy, Irish faithful, Kelly isnt going anywhere. He is signed through 2016 in South Bend, but his National Championship game appearance could be grounds for a long-term extension. Kelly could use the NFL hype as leverage in negotiations but thats as far as it will go.
Probability: Low to none
Reids name has been thrown around in multiple front offices around the league but it appears as if the long time Eagles head coach will end up in either Arizona or Kansas City both of which he has already interviewed with.
Reid has already begun assembling a staff he will bring with him wherever he goes, so look for this deal to happen within the next few days.
The highly sought after Houston Texans offensive coordinator is looking to take the next step in his coaching career and it is likely he will be hired somewhere.
Dennison has held numerous positions in the NFL since 1995. In 2010, the Texans hired him as the offensive coordinator. Dennisons playbook would be a good fit for the Bears; over the last three years he has found success in evenly distributing the ball between an elite running back and wide receiver. Sound familiar?
Dennisons balanced attack would allow Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall to both play integral roles in the offense and offer a relatively seamless transition between regimes. On top of that, Dennison has three years of coaching experience alongside Cutler and Marshall in Denver (06-08).
This hire would make a lot of sense for Phil Emery and the rest of the Bears front office.
Probability: Medium to High
When talking about Denvers offensive coordinator, one word comes to mind -- adaptability.
As an offensive coordinator, McCoy has a history of getting the job done regardless of personnel. He was successful with former Bear Kyle Orton under center, but then had to change his philosophy as the multi-tooled Tebow began to take the snaps.
This season, McCoy once again reconstructed his playbook to fit the endless talents of Peyton Manning. McCoy is the type of offensive mind that will highlight the strengths of an offense and he could boost Jay Cutler to the upper level of NFL quarterbacks.
McCoy is scheduled to interview with the Bills, Cardinals, Eagles and Bears this weekend.
Washington Redskins offensive coordinator and son of Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan may only be 33 years old, but he is anything but short on experience. He has coached in the NFL since 2004 and has been an offensive coordinator since 2008, when he got his first opportunity calling the plays in Houston.
In his five years as an OC, Shanahan has only reached the playoffs one time and that is this season. It is evident that he has done a superb job in developing two rookie quarterbacks in Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, but the young coordinator may want to continue building his resume around one of the most electrifying players to step on a football field in a long time.
Pete Carmichael Jr.
If your franchise is looking for a coach with a deep understanding of the passing game, Pete Carmichael, Jr. is at the top of the list. The New Orleans offensive coordinator and former passing game coach has been dialing up the play calls alongside Sean Payton for Drew Brees and the Saints offense since 2009.
During his tenure with the Saints, he has won a Super Bowl and orchestrated some record setting offensive performances. The Saints may have struggled this season, but they still led the league in yards per game (410).
Carmichael would be a definite change in philosophy as the Saints threw the ball 64.5 percent of the time this season, compared to the Bears 50.7 percent. Carmichael Jr. does have some ties with the Bears organization -- his father, Pete Carmichael, Sr., was an offensive assistant from '01-'03. Carmichael, Jr. interviewed with the Bears on Thursday afternoon.
Arians was considered no more than a coordinator across the league until he filled in as Colts head coach in the absence of Chuck Pagano this season. Arians has held multiple offensive positions in the NFL since 1996, most notably as the offensive coordinator of the 2009 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
This season, Arians has orchestrated one of the greatest turnarounds in league history, taking the worst team in the NFL a year ago and leading them to the playoffs. No doubt, he has opened some eyes across the league, but his age is still a concern as he will be 61 next season.
Arians has shown that he is capable of being effective in the head coaching position and the Bears have received permission to interview him around the Colts playoff responsibilities.
Sullivan has spent nine years in the league, eight in New York with the Giants where he worked tirelessly with Eli Manning. Manning credits a great deal of his success to his former coach who helped him emerge as one of the games better quarterbacks and a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Phil Emery interviewed Sullivan earlier this week and he is reportedly under consideration with a handful of teams around the league. In 2012, which was Sullivans first year as offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, he helped turn around Josh Freemans career who before Sullivan was on the fast track to being labeled a bust. This season, the Bucs were a vastly improved offensive team.
The saying goes: If at first you dont succeed, try, try again.
In 2010, the Bears asked the Packers' permission to interview their offensive coordinator; the Packers were not too fond of the idea and blocked the Bears from speaking with Clements. The OC spot was eventually filled by Mike Martz and well, we all know how that turned out.
Two years later, the Packers have agreed to allow the Bears to interview Clements for the head coaching position, but NFL rules do not allow them to do so until the Packers have availability after their first-round playoff game. Clements says he is flattered by the Bears interest but will not further address the topic until after the season.
I guess if you cant beat 'em, steal 'em.
The highly-respected Dallas special teams coordinator has made a couple of possible hiring lists the past two years.
This year, DiCamillis reputation across the league has earned him an interview for the Bears' vacant head-coaching job. He has held special teams positions across the league since 1988. Emery worked alongside DiCamillis in Atlanta in the early 2000s.
My only concern is with the high number of coaching vacancies; why are the Bears the only team pursuing DiCamillis at the moment? In addition, Dallas special teams werent exceptionally special in 2012.
The Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator has been interviewed by the Eagles, Chiefs and Bears already this offseason. Armstrong has been coaching in the NFL since 1994 and his duties have included special teams and defensive position coaching.
While Armstrong does have the background to take the next step as a head coach, the Bears may be looking for a more offensive-minded coordinator.
Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher
Both Super Bowl Champions. Both well established head coaches. Both are considered students of the game. Neither is headed to Chicago.
Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher have both come up in a number of different teams hiring conversations, but I expect both of them to stay in the TV booth. Gruden is signed on with ESPN until 2017, and he is great at what he does. He is also the antithesis of everything Lovie Smith was.
While the fanbase is clamoring for either man to lead the 2013 Bears, I dont see any chance that either one is a serious candidate for the job. In fact, I would be surprised if either one resurfaces anywhere in the league.
Holmgren is another Super Bowl Champion, having taken home the Lombardi Trophy in 1996 with the Packers. The San Francisco native got his professional start as the quarterbacks coach of the 49ers before moving to offensive coordinator. In 1992, he was hired as head coach of the Packers and moved to Seattle in 1999, compiling a 272-161 record and three NFC Championships in 17 seasons.
His offenses have ranked in the Top 10 in yardage and points 13 times in 20 seasons, including four Top 3 finishes in yards and five Top 3 finishes in points scored.
Holmgren is reportedly interested in coaching in the NFL again, but he has spent the last three seasons as the President of the Cleveland Browns and turns 65 in June.
Probability: Extremely Low
Joe Musso contributed to this article