Could Lovie Smith be coaching in the NFC North in 2014?

I'm available to coach you guys. - Jonathan Daniel

After being fired by the Bears last December, former head coach Lovie Smith got nary a sniff from teams searching for a new leader. Now though, with plenty of teams entering train wreck territory, the rumors are already ramping up about which teams could be interviewing Lovie for a potential head coaching gig in 2014.

No matter what you thought about the Bears' decision to fire Lovie Smith following last year's 10-6 mark there was little argument that he is a good coach who would certainly land at least a defensive coordinator gig for this year.

But he allegedly didn't want to settle for being "just a coordinator" and decided to sit out 2013 when no teams made him an offer to take the reins of their team. Who can blame him either, since he's still getting paid by the Bears this year to not coach them.

Smith built an 81-63 regular season record (3-3 playoffs) over his nine years at the helm and his shortcoming, without question, was his inability to field a competitive offense to pair with his perennially hard-nosed defense.

While the Bears would likely be no better off with Smith still at the helm (the defensive injuries would have to be too much for even him to handle), it is surprising no teams wanted to hire him.

But all that will change next year. With the season half over and plenty of teams in full-on dumpster fire mode (Hello, Tampa Bay), Lovie should at least get a couple of interviews come January.

On Friday, Pro-Football Talk noted that there could very well be a "land rush" for Smith's services, especially in Tampa Bay where Smith was an assistant under Tony Dungy in the late-90s.

But, the article notes that there could be two NFC North teams giving Lovie a call for an interview: the Vikings and the Lions.

The article speculates with a simple "if they make a change," which seems somewhat unlikely in the case of the Lions since they are sitting at 5-3 and right in the middle of the NFC North title race, but perhaps if they have a late season collapse or their ownership grows tired of the same old discipline and inconsistency problems they've had under Jim Schwartz.

The Vikings make some sense too, although personally I'm not sure Leslie Frazier is a bad coach as much as he's surrounded by bad players (this same basic team was 10-6 and in the playoffs last season and he had Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel at quarterback). However, at 1-5 the team could certainly make a coaching change and Lovie Smith would bring a steady hand to an up and down franchise.

What would it mean for the Bears? Well they'd have to face their former coach twice a year. Would that be good or bad?

I would be nervous about it, Smith would know how to defend against Jay Cutler and he had the defensive mind that could give Marc Trestman's improved offense fits. However, without a good quarterback whatever offense his team fields would likely be a mixed bag.

I would be more nervous if Smith took over the Lions than I would be the Vikings.

That said though, I think he could be a good fit for any team looking to make a change next year, but he would have to be paired with a strong offensive coordinator, good quarterback and general manager.

How would you feel about the Bears having to face Lovie Smith twice a season?

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