'Tis the season for wild coaching speculation (see: Gruden, Jon, and the Longhorns). So it's refreshing to get an actual piece of worthwhile news on the coaching search front. It comes via the Texans and an obvious candidate, Lovie Smith.
This isn't surprising, mainly because Texans owner Bob McNair actually mentioned Smith's name at the press conference announcing Kubiak's firing (and the promotion of Case Keenum to starting quarterback).
Smith, who is actually from Texas, was 81-63 with the Bears in nine years as Chicago's head coach. Phil Emery relieved him of his duties before 2013 -- following a 10-win season no less -- and replaced him with Marc Trestman. Smith spent 2013 out of coaching.
Besides being a viable candidate, Smith also fulfills, right off the bat, the Rooney Rule requirements for the Texans coaching search. (It seems unlikely that's why the Texans interviewed him, however.)
According to McClain, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt are possible candidates for the gig. Current interim coach Wade Phillips "will get [an] interview."
All three of them have coached at a championship level in the NFL; Whisenhunt and Smith took the Cardinals and Bears, respectively, to the Super Bowl. O'Brien was on the Patriots coaching staff when they came up short in recent Super Bowl runs.