Much talk has been made about Ron Rivera being interviewed time and time again, but never actually landing a head coaching position. And why? This is the man who was credited with the development of the former Philadelphia Eagles two-time Pro-Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. He formed Chicago Bears into a defensive power house during his tenure where they finished 2nd (2005) and 5th (2006) in total defense (and they ended up 28th in 2007 after he left). He has made his mark again in San Diego, where his Chargers finished with the best ranked defense in the NFL this year.
So what happened?
I've stumbled across a few interesting articles that may shed some light on this. After the 2006 season, Bill Cowher was set to retire and the Steelers were amidst the search for a new head coach. There were supposedly three finalists: Russ Grimm, Mike Tomlin, and Ron Rivera. However, Ron Rivera was not given a 2nd interview, unlike these other two. This from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Rivera has been preparing for the NFC Championship Game between the Bears and visiting New Orleans Saints, but that is only part of the reason why he, unlike Russ Grimm and Mike Tomlin, has not interviewed with the Steelers a second time.
NFL rules prohibit Rivera from talking to the Steelers again -- he met Jan. 7 with team chairman Dan Rooney, president Art Rooney II and director of football operations Kevin Colbert in Chicago -- until the Bears season is over.
It will end either Sunday or Feb. 4, when the Super Bowl is played.
And as many people will recall, the Bears advanced to the Super Bowl to face off against the Indianapolis Colts, where they would eventually lose. Ron Rivera was never given the chance at a second interview. Pittsburgh, believing they had found their guy in Mike Tomlin, hired him as their head coach on January 27th, 2007.
And a similar situation played out in Arizona. On January 14th, Arizona also made their move, hiring Ken Whisenhunt as the Head Coach. And of course, during that time Rivera would have been unable to take a 2nd interview due to NFL policy as the Bears were still on their way to the Super Bowl.
But what about the Dallas Cowboys? They also interviewed Ron Rivera in 2007. That is correct. Of course, they also interviewed 10 other coaches before settling on Wade Phillips.
After the 2007 season ended, an interesting thing happened in Chicago though. Lovie Smith was given an extension for reaching the Super Bowl, however if memory serves me correctly it was a very controversial topic due to the performance of Rex Grossman throughout the entire season. Contract negotiations between Rivera and the Bears organization made little progress, and on February 19th, the Bears announced his contract would not be renewed, a move which shocked many. After all, it was the defense that got the Bears into the playoffs.
This sent Ron Rivera to San Diego under new head coach Norv Turner (who is the brother of a certain Ron Turner, then-offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears), although he would take a demotion for this transfer. Rivera would ultimately work his way up to the defensive coordinator position again as we all know.
And that brings us to where we stand today. If anything, Rivera was a victim of circumstance in the 2007 coaching carousel. He was unable to take interviews until after the Super Bowl, and by that time teams had already moved on.