Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Panthers arrival reminds us of uncertain futures of Fox, Cowher

The Carolina Panthers reported for duty Wednesday, with Jimmy Clausen signed and team regulars like Julius Peppers and Jake Delhomme no longer in the fold. This is a younger, and probably not better, Panthers team than the one that finished 8-8 last season.

The major storyline hanging over this season is the future of coach John Fox. Fox is a bright, sincere coach who wants to do things the proper way. He has won in Carolina, but from a distance you get the feel that his time there is running out.

Fox has only this season remaining on his contract, and an issue to watch is whether Bill Cowher returns to coaching – and goes to Carolina. When I interviewed Cowher for WRAL back in February, he had an interest in returning “if it were the right situation.”

You can’t help but feel for Cowher in light of the death of his wife, Kaye. They went to N.C. State together, and she was from Bunn. Moving to Raleigh, and leaving the NFL, was an important decision for their family. I wouldn’t begin to predict how a devasting loss like that would impact Cowher’s future.

Where Cowher takes his career remains to be seen, and that’s certainly not at the forefront of his mind now. Bbut his youngest daughter is already at Wofford, where the Panthers hold training camp. Cowher is a tough, smart, but quite compassionate coach who’d be a great fit with Jerry Richardson if he wanted to consider Carolina.

I couldn’t help today but think of the irony of the Panthers, and Cowher’s daughter, heading to Wofford – and wonder what that might mean for future developments.

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