The coaching carousel that is the NFL continues to upset Stephen A. Smith. Though it’s obvious he’s not wrong here. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t care for the guy. While he and Skip Bayless are essentially paid to argue and spew erroneous shit on the daily, there’s the topic of the Rooney Rule that needs to be discussed. The Rooney Rule states that each team must interview a minority within their search for a new head coach.
On one hand, you want to spend your time wisely and look for/talk to the people that are most qualified and are the best fit for the open position with a particular team. But then again there’s always hidden gems or great options elsewhere that aren’t the obvious choice only because they haven’t had their moment in the sun. And while there are success stories out of various retreads in the NFL, you have got to experience your firsts at some point to gain experience.
Guys that come to mind that have come in to their head coaching position after being let go and produce are Andy Reid, Bill Bellichick, and Tom Coughlin. However, there’s the flip side of that. Guys that haven’t been successful in their new stops that were let go (whether fired or had contracts run out) include Rex Ryan, Lovie Smith, Jeff Fisher, and John Fox. Pete Carroll is the only guy I can think of that’s had some trouble in his first stop and gone on to success in his next NFL venture, but he obviously had to get it straight at USC for a while.
And then there’s the guys that have been long-time coordinators that have gotten their chance after waiting patiently. That list could essentially be everyone coaching in the NFL right BUT when considering guys that are better known as coordinators than head coaches (though they are changing that perception) include Bruce Arians, Dan Quinn, Marvin Lewis, Gary Kubiak (I know, he had several years as head coach in Houston but he’s still more of coordinator- much like his DC Wade Phillips), Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden, Jack Del Rio (yes, the Raiders are headed int he right direction) and Todd Bowles. The guys that couldn’t cut it were Jim Tomsula (who didn’t get a fair shot, IMO), Mike McCoy, and Jason Garrett.
Scanning all those names there are only 5 minority head coaches out of 32 and while that’s not the worst the league has seen, it’s hardly indicative of the percentage of players that have gone through the NFL or nation’s population over the past 10 years. Similarly, college football’s top division only has 11 minority coaches out of 128 teams (which is actually worse). The only way to buck this trend is to get and push for quality options in the highest of positions.
With regards to the Rooney Rule, the best options should be the only options. It shouldn’t matter what the skin color is of the person you interview, but when the disparity is so pronounced it is worth mentioning. I think it’s irresponsible to think there should some kind of “eye for an eye” mentality if the situation should ever get to the opposite ratio in favor of minority coaches. Because the best qualified candidates should get the job no matter if you’re applying to flip burgers at a fast food restaurant or you’re interested in becoming the next commissioner in the NFL.
Retreads aplenty, there needs to be a better job done by GM’s in the hiring process. Did anyone see Chuck Pagano sticking around in Indianapolis? He’s a good guy and obviously has had some tough luck (no pun intended) dealing with cancer amidst his first head-coaching opportunity. But once the heads were shaved and Pagano beat the disease it became a business again and his job had more to do with performance than it did circumstance. If Andrew Luck getting hurt was his excuse for a bad season then not many guys (if any) should have been fired this season. He should be gone.
Mike Pettine wasn’t a good fit in Cleveland. I think he had the right attitude, but he wasn’t the right figure. No one was going to respect him the way they should look at their leader. Johnny Manziel was a mistake by Jimmy Haslam that no owner should ever put solely on the shoulders of their coach. Pettine shouldn’t have been in this position (though he may be a head coach somewhere else at some point, he feels like a better college guy) in the first place. But now that he has been, he should’ve been given another chance to get it together.
Jim Tomsula was an odd hire that seemed just to be either a stop-gap or a continuity hire with the idea that all the guys that retired AFTER his hire weren’t going to do so. Instead, he had a QB with no idea what he was doing/regressing immensely, he had a RB with injury issues, one past his prime receiver, one receiver who’s a one-trick pony, no TE, a patchwork O-line, and a defense that was a shell of its former self. Who would have been successful with all that?
And then there’s Jason Garrett. He hasn’t had a chance to become an NFL coach on his own. Maybe he’s made in-game moves and such that have been his own. But who the fuck knows? Jerry Jones rules the Dallas Cowboys with an iron fist much like Al Davis. And sad to say, the Cowboys won’t be back to their glory days until Jones kicks the bucket. That’s right. Jones is the problem. Much like Peter Angelos doesn’t want to pay for high-priced free agents for the Baltimore Orioles (save Chris Davis this offseason), Jones doesn’t want to give up stance on making daily decisions in the front office. They’ve got the talent, but they don’t have the right leaders. So instead they will suffer until they have a new owner.