At the start of November, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman insisted that head coach Leslie Frazier would not be fired. By the end of December, Frazier had been fired.
Spielman’s statement that “Leslie Frazier is not going anywhere” is just the latest piece of evidence that a coach getting a “vote of confidence” during the season is meaningless.
Sometimes a vote of confidence is simply a public relations move, when teams don’t want fans to think the season is hopeless. Sometimes a vote of confidence is an attempt to keep the players from tuning out the coach. Sometimes a vote of confidence is a sincere expression that the front office is behind the coach, but the coach then loses the confidence of his bosses when the team takes a turn for the worse. (That wasn’t the case for Frazier, though: He was 1-6 when he got his vote of confidence and went 4-4-1 the rest of the way, so if anything the Vikings should be more confident in Frazier now than they were when he got his vote of confidence.)
But whatever the reasons for the votes of confidence when they’re given, they don’t actually mean the coach’s job is safe. If the front office extends the coach’s contract in the middle of the season, that’s a real vote of confidence. If the front office says the coach’s job is safe during the season, those are just empty words.