There wasn’t much doubt in anybody’s mind that follows the National Football League that the Houston Texans were going to make a coaching change.

After all, when a team is considered to be a Super Bowl contender and then turns out to be THE WORST team in the league at the three-quarters mark of the 2013 season, something drastic has to happen.

But the firing of Head Coach Gary Kubiak by team owner Bob McNair Friday still was a shocker, probably because of the timing involved. Why couldn’t he wait until then season ended?

McNair made this decision on the flight home after Thursday night’s nationally televised 27-20 loss to Jacksonville. It was the Texans’ second loss in 11 days to the Jaguars, who had the distinction of having the NFL’s worst record before their win in Houston 11 days ago.

“It was difficult for me because I think so much of Gary,” McNair was quoted as saying in Saturday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s something I didn’t want to do, but you do what’s best for the organization.”

McNair mentioned “accountability” and “unacceptable” in explaining why Kubiak had to go. Shortly after firing Kubiak, McNair also canned special-teams coach Joe Marciano, who had been with the Texans since their inception in 1992, also on Friday.

The owner said that losing to the Jaguars for a second time with such a mistake-infested performance was that proverbial straw than broke the camel’s back. He also said the list of appropriate replacements for Kubiak would not be picked over in early December like it probably will be a month from now.

There’s been all kinds of speculation as to who McNair will select as the Texans’ new head coach. One of the prime candidates is Houston’s defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who McNair named as the team’s interim coach for the final three games of the season.

Phillips took three teams to the playoffs as head coach and is an interim coach for the third time in his 36-year coaching career.

But the Orange native will have his hands full operating with a skeleton crew that has lost a franchise-record 11 straight games and play at Indianapolis Sunday where they have NEVER defeated the Colts.  But McNair did order Phillips to start Case Keenum at quarterback for the remainder of the season.

One of the biggest rumors circulating the blogosphere is that Mack Brown will be available AFTER he is fired by the Texas Longhorns and will take over the Texans while Alabama coach Nick Saban moves his coaching talents to Austin.

Another is that Kevin Sumlin would leave Texas A&M for the Houston Texans’ job. Sumlin and Texans’ General Manager Rick Smith both played football at Purdue—but not together—and are good friends.

But these pipe dreams don’t fit with McNair’s specifications for his new head coach. During last week’s press conference announcing Kubiak’s dismissal, McNair stated that his preference would be to hire a candidate who has been a head coach and has NFL experience.

Some of the candidates filling that criterion are television football announcers Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, Stanford coach David Shaw, San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was Jacksonville’s head coach for nine years.

O’Brien coached under Bill Belichick at New England and Shaw turned down NFL teams after the 2012 season and might again, according to Monday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle. Shaw is doing a great job at Stanford and was an NFL assistant for nine years with Philadelphia, Oakland and Baltimore.

After his playing days as an NFL tight end, Whisenhunt was a successful offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh before accepting the head job at Arizona. During his six years (2006-12) with the Cardinals, he had two winning records and guided them to Super Bowl XLIII, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23.

Lovie Smith is a native Texan who grew up in Big Sandy, playing on high school state championship teams and as a head coach led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI, losing 29-17 to Indianapolis. Smith was fired after coaching the Bears to a 10-6 record in 2012.

Another rumor is that Mike Shanahan is about to be fired by the Washington Redskins and would be a good choice to fit McNair’s hiring profile. However, Kubiak’s former boss would NEVER take a job as his replacement.

I really like Gary Kubiak and was a big fan of the way he built the Texans into playoff contenders. He was very humble and honest and polite during his press conferences throughout the seasons as head coach and never made excuses for the team’s poor play.

He is a first-class act who is certain to land on his feet as some team’s quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator.

KWICKIES…There certainly were some interesting NFL games Sunday that were played under some blustery wintry conditions. And most of them were very entertaining, especially those decided in the final minute of play.

Monday night’s nationally televised game between the defense-less Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears also was played in the extremely raw cold which undoubtedly affected Dallas players much more than those whose home stadium is Soldier Field. Idiot owner Jerry Jones needs to do another de ja vous and get rid of that senior citizen of a defensive coordinator and bring in somebody who’s more in tune with stopping those sophisticated offenses being used by most of the NFL teams.

Just as the BCS is being antiquated for a College Football Playoff system, it appears the 13-member selection committee finally got it right in their send-off season by pitting Florida State against Auburn for the BCS national championship game.  Ohio State vs. Clemson in the BCS Orange Bowl also seems right, but I would rather see Baylor have a crack at Alabama rather than play Oklahoma in the BCS Sugar Bowl.

Despite being a seven-point favorite and playing on their home field, my alma mater McNeese State certainly laid an egg Saturday night on Louis Bonnette Field in Lake Charles against Jacksonville State in the Football Championship Subdivision second round after having a first-round bye. The Pokes were overpowered 31-10 by the aggressive visitors and finished the season at 10-3.

Zach Johnson rallied from four strokes down with eight holes to play to tie Tiger Woods at the end of the 72 holes and then beat him on the first playoff hole Sunday to win the World Challenge at Thousand Oaks, Cal. Johnson holed out from the drop area for a par to force a playoff and then won when Tiger missed a five-foot par putt on the first extra hole. For Woods it was only the fourth time in his career that he lost a lead going into the final round. Johnson won $1 million while Tiger settled for $400,000.

JUST BETWEEN US…It a crying shame the Class 3A Regional championship game between the West Orange-Stark Mustangs and Carthage had to be played under those unbelievable weather conditions Friday night. The temperature at The Butch Stadium in Beaumont was in the 30’s and the wind chill factor because of the 20-30 mph north wind was in the upper teens. Probably the best team won—but maybe it didn’t due to the wintry weather conditions that led to seven Mustang turnovers. Anyhow, WO-S surpassed all expectations EXCEPT perhaps the ones they set for themselves.