Reports came out Tuesday morning Jacksonville has fired head coach Jack Del Rio amid a 3-8 season that has seen some of the lowest offensive production numbers in team history.
Del Rio has coached the Jaguars since 2003, and saw a moderate run of success in the middle part of the last decade. He is the first and only coach to lead a team to two victories over the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Del Rio's Jaguars converted a controversial 4th-and-short in the 2007 Wild Card Round playoff game in Pittsburgh that sealed a 31-29 victory. They defeated the Steelers 29-22 in Week 15 that same year.
It turned downhill for the Jaguars after that season - that ended in a 31-20 loss at undefeated New England. His teams are 23-36 (.389) since the 2007 season. A slew of bad draft picks came in the years to follow, and the team has not been able to find much offensive help to go alongside franchise player RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
Surprisingly, they elected to release veteran QB David Garrard right before the start of the 2011 season. He was replaced by Luke McCown, who played horribly before being replaced by rookie (and first-round draft pick) Blaine Gabbert.
Some suggested at the time Del Rio released Garrard as a way to justify what many expected to be a losing season. Rookie quarterbacks do not often find immediate success in winning games.
Speculation is floating around now that Del Rio asked to be removed from his position in order to become a candidate for head coaching jobs at the college level. With recruiting in full swing at that level, this is the time colleges will making hiring and firing decisions.
Today, for example, former Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer was named the new head coach of Ohio State.
Del Rio was linked to the vacancy at USC, his alma mater, when Pete Carroll (now the head coach of the Seahawks) resigned a season ago. No word is coming out of Los Angeles on whether USC is looking to terminate Lane Kiffin, their current coach.
Del Rio has been in the hot seat in Jacksonville for three seasons now, and his removal isn't as much a surprise as the timing of it. It does point to a desire to coach in college, a level in which Del Rio has not coached previously. Considering the amount of former NFL head coaches currently unemployed (former Steelers coach Bill Cowher in particular), it doesn't seem likely Del Rio would be hired back as an NFL head coach any time soon.