Who the Cardinals interviewed before hiring Kliff Kingsbury
A casual NFL fan in Arizona might not be very familiar with Kliff Kingsbury.
Perhaps a name like Mike McCarthy — the longtime coach of the Green Bay Packers who was fired this season — or former Dolphins coach Adam Gase would’ve been more recognizable.
But the Cardinals have selected the 39-year-old former Big 12 head coach Kingsbury to replace the ousted Steve Wilks, which may cause some to wonder, how did they get to this decision?
There were at least five known interviews and two denied interview requests that the Cardinals churned through before making their selection. Here’s a timeline of the Cardinals’ coaching search and who they spoke with before arriving at Kingsbury:
Jan. 1 — Mike McCarthy declines interview
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Jan. 1 that McCarthy declined the Cardinals’ interest, and ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky later reported that McCarthy wanted to coach somewhere close to Green Bay, where his kids will stay to finish high school.
Jan. 2 — Eric Bieniemy declines interview
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was reportedly going to interview with the Jets, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Bengals, so NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Bieniemy would decide not to take the Cardinals’ interview. “Four is plenty,” Rapoport tweeted.
Jan. 2 — Adam Gase
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Jan. 1 that the Cardinals would interview former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase the following day.
Gase, 40, was fired on Dec. 31 by the Dolphins after posting a 23-25 record in three seasons, his first gig as a head coach. He was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears before taking the Dolphins job in 2016.
Jan. 3 — Jim Caldwell
Schefter reported that Jim Caldwell was going to interview with the Cardinals on Jan. 3.
The former Detroit Lions (2014-17) and Indianapolis (2009-2011) head coach had the most NFL experience among those who interviewed for Arizona’s job. He did not hold an NFL job in 2018.
A defensive back by trade, the 63-year-old Caldwell has extensive experience as a quarterbacks coach in college and the NFL. He held quarterback assistant coaching duties with Penn State (1986-1992), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2001), the Colts (2002-08) and the Ravens (2012-13).
Jan. 5 — Dan Campbell
Campbell, an assistant with the Saints since 2016, planned to meet with the Cardinals on Saturday, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station‘s John Gambadoro. The 42-year-old Campbell previously coached with the Miami Dolphins from 2010-15 and posted a 5-7 record after taking over as interim head coach for the fired Joe Philbin in 2015.
In addition to the Cardinals, the Browns and Packers reportedly also interviewed with Campbell.
Jan. 5 — Zac Taylor
The Cardinals reportedly put in a request with the LA Rams to interview their quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor on Dec. 31. They were reportedly the first team to put in the request for Taylor, and Taylor was also said to be the first candidate that the Cardinals attempted to interview. His meeting with the organization was reported to have taken place on Saturday, though it wasn’t until Monday that Gambadoro reported the Cardinals had completed the interview.
Jan. 8 — Kliff Kingsbury
It might’ve taken a little longer than it otherwise would have to get to Kingsbury, since it was originally reported that USC — his employer for a brief period for whom he never coached a game — was denying requests from NFL teams to interview the young coach.
But on Monday, it became known that NFL teams would begin interviewing Kingsbury. The Jets reportedly met with the former Texas Tech coach on Monday, while the Cardinals conducted their interview on Tuesday. Thereafter, the organization named him their head coach and gave him a four-year contract with a team option for the fifth year.