As the Bears begin their search for the coaching successor to John Fox, names will be swirling. Which the Bears decide upon will likely be the most notable Chicago sports event of the year, even though that year still has 364 more days to run.
It will be a move that comes with some interesting history.
The organization has been made sport of for any number or missteps, some amply justified, others maybe not so much. Hiring Bears coaches, while marked by erratic swings, has not been by any means a complete drumbeat litany of calamity.
After Mike Ditka was dispatched in 1992, Dallas defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt was arguably the most sought-after candidate for top sideline jobs. The Cowboys were coming off Super Bowl obliteration of the Buffalo Bills to cap off a resurgence in which Wannstedt was the No. 1 sidekick of coach Jimmy Johnson and had only once suffered through two straight losing seasons in a career ranging from college assistant to NFL head coach.
Then-Bears President Michael McCaskey pursued and edged out the New York Giants to land Wannstedt, who achieved some early success before his job-ending collapse from 1996-98.
McCaskey enacted a collapse of his own in the mishandled attempt to hire Dave McGinnis, a botched moment that effectively cost McCaskey his job. The Bears ultimately hired Dick Jauron, who managed as many playoff appearances as Wannstedt (one) but little else.
The move to Lovie Smith produced a division championship in year two (2005) and a Super Bowl appearance in year three, and ultimately produced a win total (81) trailing only George Halas and Ditka.
Missed playoffs then brought an end to Smith’s tenure despite a 10-6 record in 2012, whereupon Smith was fired by Phil Emery, who brought in Marc Trestman to start a two-year stint of dysfunction that got both Emery and Trestman fired.
The organization then turned to Fox, like Wannstedt once upon a time, perhaps the top candidate on the open market. His record of success included taking Carolina and Denver to (losing) Super Bowls, but had never experienced consecutive losing seasons through 27 years of NFL coaching at any level.
Fox’s time ended, as Wannstedt’s did, with three straight losing seasons for the first time in his career.