It doesn’t surprise me that Troy Calhoun’s name is popping up in regards to the Denver Broncos’ job opening. I’ve known since my time covering the Broncos that the organization thought very highly of him. Calhoun is the first hot name being thrown around by the rumor mill now that Josh McDaniels has been fired. I wouldn’t be surprised if he interviews for the job – although I also think this will be a wide-ranging search, and he is far from a heavy favorite. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Here are some random thoughts on the possibility of Calhoun going to the Broncos, after talking to sources from Air Force and the Broncos tonight:
- This would be a great Air Force story. I know Falcons fans don’t want to lose Calhoun. But, in some ways, it would be a great thing for the academy. There won’t be many opportunities for an Air Force graduate and former coach to be one of the 32 NFL head coaches. Knowing Calhoun, he would be a great ambassador for the academy from an even bigger platform. I think the program would be fine if Tim DeRuyter came back from Texas A&M to be the head coach (and, I don’t think it’s a secret he’d be the favorite to replace Calhoun). And nobody could begrudge Calhoun if he did leave. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And I think it should be a great sense of pride for Air Force, if it happened.
- What if he doesn’t go? My initial thought, when asked, was that there was no chance Calhoun could pass up the Denver Broncos, if the opportunity came about. I’m not so sure right now, after talking to some people. The chances he would go might be 95 percent, 98 percent – I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s 100 percent. Calhoun keeps his thoughts on job openings very close to the vest, so it’s hard to get a good read on what he would do. But here are some things to ponder: Calhoun legitimately loves the Air Force Academy. He has a deep appreciation for the mission of the academy, and his role in it. He’s not a guy that has ever brought up money with athletics director Hans Mueh – money doesn’t drive him. Going to the NFL would mean a lot more scrutiny and a lot more hours. He knows this, he spent four years in the NFL before becoming Air Force’s coach. Air Force has treated him pretty well, and he enjoys what he does. He could probably be the Falcons coach for the next couple decades, make good money and be very happy. I’m not saying he’s going to slam the door in the Broncos’ face, but I’m not so sure it’s an absolute, positive lock he would leave Air Force for the Broncos, as crazy as that may sound. At very least, I am pretty confident in saying it would be very difficult for him to leave the academy.
He would be a good NFL coach: The most ignorant statements I read or hear regarding Calhoun have to do with him being a triple-option coach. As in, “I don’t want the triple option here at (the Broncos/State U)!” The Houston Texans didn’t run the triple option, folks. Calhoun was a NFL offensive coordinator, and wanted to run a balanced offense at Air Force when he came. That he was able to realize the triple option (and the Falcons don’t use it all the time, they incorporate many zone-blocking plays) was what worked best at a service academy and became a proficient coach at it says plenty about his ability.
Also, I remember in December of 2006 asking around in the Broncos locker room about what players thought about Calhoun, who was in Houston, but had been with Denver from 2003-05 and was the favorite to be Fisher DeBerry’s successor. They all had great respect for him. Here’s a Rod Smith quote from a story I wrote late that month:
“Troy’s very smart,” Smith said. “When he was an assistant here, he didn’t get to express himself a whole lot but he’s a very smart guy and he knew exactly what we were doing offensively.
“He’s a great guy, too. Good things happen to good people, and he’s definitely one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.”
I think he’d do fine leading NFL players as a head coach. And he wouldn’t run the triple option.
(The quickest way to get any updates I have on Calhoun and the Broncos will be to follow me on Twitter. Or stop by and ask a question, I try to answer them all.)