Chan Gailey wasn't the glossy name atop coaching wish lists throughout Western New York. Fans haven't exactly been losing sleep, hoping for his arrival.
Further, he wasn't the Bills' first choice. But today he'll be named the team's next head coach. He brings several years of experience on the offensive side of the ball, along with a winning track record.
Weeks ago, Buddy Nix said he wanted someone with previous head coach experience to run his team. He's not Bill Cowher. He's not Jim Harbaugh. He's not Brian Schottenheimer.
But Gailey fits that criteria. And reports indicate he was a strong candidate for offensive coordinator all along.
Gailey, 57, was the Dallas Cowboys' head coach in 1998 and 1999. The Cowboys made the playoffs in each season. From 2002-07, Gailey was the head coach at Georgia Tech. His teams went 44-33.
More specifically, the Bills would get an offensive-minded coach in Gailey. Pivotal, considering Buffalo has toiled in the league's bottom eight for seven straight seasons. The lack of a potent offense, run or pass, has been the biggest reason Buffalo's postseason-less stretch reached a decade.
Gailey most recently served as Kansas City's offensive coordinator in 2008 and was fired by Todd Haley two weeks before the '09 season opener --- much like Turk Schonert getting canned immediately before Buffalo's opener. Gailey's crowning achievement in K.C. may have been squeezing every ounce of talent out of young quarterback Tyler Thigpen. The Chiefs flipped from a rush-first team to a spread offense midseason under Gailey. Thigpen, a second-year quarterback from Coastal Carolina, threw for 2,608 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Gailey, who has also has been an offensive coach in Denver and Pittsburgh, was Miami's offensive coordinator in 2000 and 2001 after getting fired by Dallas. The Dolphins went 11-5 in both years behind a power, Lamar Smith-led rushing attack. The team didn't drop off in the wake of Dan Marino's retirement.
His Georgia Tech teams made six straight bowl games, but couldn't beat in-state rival Georgia.
The Bills were shunned by countless coached on their coaching search. Cowher, Harbaugh, Schottenheimer, Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan all said thanks, but no thanks.
Gailey fared well in his brief stint as a head coach, turning around an aging Cowboys team from 6-10 to 10-6 and a division title. The next year, Dallas went 8-8 and reached the wild card. To date, owner Jerry Jones has somewhat regretted firing Gailey after these two short seasons.
"The most unfair that I've ever been in anything in sports and maybe in other parts was dismissing Chan after two years," Jones said. "That wasn't right. . . . That is one thing I look at today in my mirror and say you just weren't as fair as you needed to be there to the team, the fans and certainly to Chan to make that change after two years."
At his press conference today, Gailey's vision for the team may become clear. Will he lean on a run-first style like he did in Miami? Or could he spread things out as he did with the Chiefs? We'll see. He has been mildly successful at every step along his coaching career.
A retreat hire, yes. But the Bills must be happy the search is finally over.