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Coaching carousel brings NFL’s outdated hiring rule into focus

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Already, teams are clamoring to hire their next coaches. But some of the best candidates won’t be available to be hired — possibly for more than a month.

The league allows certain interviews of assistants whose teams are in the postseason, but nothing can be made official until the playoff run of a candidate’s current team ends. The effort to avoid the creation of an obvious conflict of interest, with an assistant employed by one team already officially named the head coach of another team, sets up an even more awkward situation where the assistant at some level realizes that losing in the postseason could help him fulfill the lifelong dream of becoming an NFL head coach.

It would be better to have full transparency, allowing the hire to be made but no actual work on behalf of the new team to begin until the work with the current team ends — other than to put a staff together.

For now, teams with vacancies will be relegated to interviewing this week the assistants from teams that earned bye weeks. After the wild-card round, assistants from the winning teams can be interviewed, but only with the express permission of their current teams.  After the conference championship round, teams who already interviewed an assistant from a Super Bowl team can interview him again.

The inability to be actually hired has contributed to keeping guys from getting jobs in the past, and it could contribute to some teams choosing not to wait this year, too. This could hurt candidates like Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, and Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

Ultimately, it depends on how important speed of hiring will be for the teams involved. If time is of the essence, a viable candidate could be left behind, hoping that in a non-playoff year he’ll still be viewed as sufficiently desirable to get a promotion elsewhere.

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41 Responses to “Coaching carousel brings NFL’s outdated hiring rule into focus”
  1. lowfootballtalk says: Jan 3, 2016 9:22 AM

    Jack Del Rio knows how to get around this. Simply blow the game!

  2. j0esixpack says: Jan 3, 2016 9:30 AM

    When will the owners wake up and hire a proactive (and non-corrupt) commissioner rather than one re-acting and playing catch up to everything from fair hiring practices to domestic violence

    Also if they could find someone who recognizes that the Laws of Physics and US Constitution aren’t nullified by their anti-trust exemption that would be nice too

  3. logast says: Jan 3, 2016 9:31 AM

    The affirmative action Rooney rule is asinine. Race should not dictate who gets interviewed for a job. Either you are the best candidate or not. Period.

  4. jets13 says: Jan 3, 2016 9:33 AM

    You ask for transparency, and suggest hiring without being allowed to do work.

    That is going to give just as big a grey area.

    Also, can you give a specific example of when an assistant would have been hired but he was to successful so missed his chance?

    It doesn’t seem logical a team would hire another coach just to have a coach hired.

  5. idoubtiwillbother says: Jan 3, 2016 9:37 AM

    Ooooorrrr… Nobody hires until all games are done? I like yours better.

  6. doggeatdogg says: Jan 3, 2016 9:39 AM

    I see how the rule hurts playoff candidates but it also protects the their teams from distractions as they get ready for the post season. It’s a quandry. No clue how to fix that.

  7. kerzondax says: Jan 3, 2016 9:48 AM

    It’s the NFL with a cadre of rich moron owners. You expect something that makes sense? Hope not.

  8. peytonwantsaflag says: Jan 3, 2016 9:50 AM

    Bad solution- the best and most logical is absolutelely no hiring nor interviewing at all until after the season. The free for all that begins the day after the Super Bowl would be incredible and we’d have some actual excitement at the pro bowl.

  9. barrymichaels61 says: Jan 3, 2016 9:51 AM

    Joe Philbin and Tony Sparano are available.

  10. gmjerry says: Jan 3, 2016 9:52 AM

    Easy solution to this “problem.” No one can interview or hire anyone until after the super bowl.

  11. kevin777w says: Jan 3, 2016 9:53 AM

    Or making all teams wait until a specific date after the Super Bowl.

  12. walker7727 says: Jan 3, 2016 9:58 AM

    I was hoping you were referring to the Rooney rule. Is is the biggest joke of them all.

  13. burgandy2260 says: Jan 3, 2016 10:04 AM

    I haven’t heard Matt Patricia’s name mentioned ever. How can this guy not get some consideration?

  14. micronin127 says: Jan 3, 2016 10:21 AM

    They’ve already pushed the draft back 6 weeks. Hiring a coach mid-Feb with free agency starting in March a few weeks later would be compressed.

    Maybe push out free agency 2 weeks and make everyone wait until the Wednesday after the Super Bowl.

  15. raiderapologist says: Jan 3, 2016 10:27 AM

    No wink-nod agreements? I thought that was how the league normally does business.

  16. patriots123456 says: Jan 3, 2016 10:32 AM

    The assistant coaches are still under contract and have games to play. It’s a total distraction to the team. Keep it the same but change it like previously mentioned to no hiring or interviewing until after the Super Bowl.

    You can’t interview players under contract for a new team, why should the coaches be any different?

    Unless you’re a Jets owner named Woody Johnson, come on home Revis we miss YA! Your pal (and Roger’s) Woody.

  17. kneedragr says: Jan 3, 2016 10:42 AM

    Easy solution. Just make a rule that until 80% of the coaches are minority, no white person is allowed to be hired. This would line up with the player percentages, so its fair. To say minorities are good enough to play but not coach is racist, they have much more experience with the pro game. Once this fairness is implemented, these racist team owners will have no choice than to hire a qualified minority candidate.

  18. celticsforever says: Jan 3, 2016 10:44 AM

    I listen to rap and wear my hat sideways. So I’m black-ish. Does that get me an interview? Of course I’m kidding. Just pointing out how ridiculous the Rooney rule is. It’s an insult to minorities and non minorities alike. Duce Staley. Really? Might as well interview Clinton Portis as well. ” ok, well I’m glad that 10 minutes is over. Now let’s go hire the guy we’ve wanted since day 1″.

  19. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 3, 2016 10:54 AM

    Totally disagree with you. Assistant coaches are being paid big money by the team they are currently employed with.

    The teams have every right to expect the assistants to focus on the playoffs and/or Super Bowl. If it means they miss out that’s the breaks if teams that need HCs don’t want to wait for them to be available for interviews.

    The system should not be changed in any way that allows rivals of a team in the playoffs to interfere and tamper with their assistants.

    For example lets say the Ravens decide they want to “interview” McDaniels in the couple weeks before the Super Bowl, assuming the Pats make it. The Ravens might well have zero intention of hiring McDaniels and every intention of disrupting a chance to win another Super Bowl.

  20. roadtrip3500 says: Jan 3, 2016 11:01 AM

    jets13 says:
    Jan 3, 2016 9:33 AM

    You ask for transparency, and suggest hiring without being allowed to do work.

    That is going to give just as big a grey area.

    Also, can you give a specific example of when an assistant would have been hired but he was to successful so missed his chance?

    It doesn’t seem logical a team would hire another coach just to have a coach hired.

    The problem isn’t so much the head coach… it’s the availability of assistants.

    Bad Team A fires their coach after week 17 and has their eye on a hot assistant of Good Team B – and they’re willing to wait for him. Bad Team C also fires their coach after week 17 and hires a new head coach right away. Team C’s new coach now has his pick of assistants and can put together a top staff quickly. By the time Team A gets their new coach from Team B (especially if B reaches the Super Bowl), all the best staff/assistants will be gone.

    I agree with others… just as players have a free agency/”new league year” date where they can’t move around until that time, so should coaching staffs. You may not be playing after week 17, but the season should not “end” for anyone until after the SB.

  21. corky2141 says: Jan 3, 2016 11:02 AM

    So free agency frenzy is anticipated every year by all the fans of all the teams. This wouldn’t be as enticing, but every fan would be paying attention – is my team gonna hire the big name coach, is my OC/DC/etc going to leave us & so on and so forth. Push it back to after the SB & come up with some goofy nickname to hashtag it with.

  22. bchap17 says: Jan 3, 2016 11:02 AM

    The Rooney rule is not affirmative action, you rube.

    When have team owners ever NOT been able to hire whoever they feel the best candidate is?

  23. hellawaitsusall says: Jan 3, 2016 11:03 AM

    We should enjoy football while it’s legal. A day will come where we won’t have any sports because it encourages individualism. Our country doesn’t want that.

  24. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jan 3, 2016 11:09 AM

    Why can’t you just write an article based on common sense and leave the conspiracies out of it?

    Allowing assistant coaches to be hired as head coaches before their teams are eliminated makes perfect sense, both out of fairness to them and the process itself. Colleges do this all of the time. Kirby Smart was hired weeks ago to take over at Georgia, and it doesn’t seem to be affecting Alabama’s defense, does it?

    You don’t need to float the possibility that some assistant somewhere would “realize that losing in the postseason could help him fulfill the lifelong dream of becoming an NFL head coach”, the insinuation being that he would purposely not prepare his players to win.

    Believe it or not, most people who rise to the level these men have most likely possess enough integrity and common sense not to do that.

  25. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jan 3, 2016 11:11 AM

    @harrisonhits:

    You do realize that other teams are already allowed to interview assistants on playoff teams, just not officially hire them, right?

  26. cuda1234 says: Jan 3, 2016 11:15 AM

    When you referred to outdated hiring rules, I thought for sure you meant the Racist Rooney Rule that requires teams to judge candidates by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character.

  27. jr4real says: Jan 3, 2016 11:18 AM

    First off, this isn’t about the Rooney rule. It’s about coaches being unavailable after the playoffs start.

    Second this isn’t arcane. It was requested by he owners who kept getting their coaches distracted mid-playoffs.

    Maybe understand the article before posting.

  28. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 3, 2016 11:28 AM

    “You do realize that other teams are already allowed to interview assistants on playoff teams, just not officially hire them, right?”

    Yes, if and only if the teams give them permission to be interviewed. They should not automatically be granted that right.

    And rivals should not be allowed to tamper with assistant coaches they have no intention of hiring, but have every intention of interfering with a Super Bowl run.

  29. thetwilightsown says: Jan 3, 2016 11:35 AM

    Lolz at ppl so unnecessarily up in arms about the Rooney rule which affects them in no way at all. Fact is: these stuffed shirts needed it to be reminded their non-white players & coaches might be capable of more than just rushing head first into a meat grinder or taking orders from someone else. Also, without it, considering non-white coaches would never become the norm. Hard to digest, I know – plus, such a burden for the fan to bear. Power through.

  30. maxkingpin says: Jan 3, 2016 11:36 AM

    Some teams are thinking about hiring Josh McDaniels or Mike Shula?

  31. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jan 3, 2016 11:48 AM

    harrisonhits2 says:
    Jan 3, 2016 11:28 AM
    “You do realize that other teams are already allowed to interview assistants on playoff teams, just not officially hire them, right?”

    Yes, if and only if the teams give them permission to be interviewed. They should not automatically be granted that right.

    And rivals should not be allowed to tamper with assistant coaches they have no intention of hiring, but have every intention of interfering with a Super Bowl run.
    ======

    To your first point: Not true. Teams cannot prevent assistants from interviewing for jobs that would constitute a promotion. They can only bar them from interviewing for lateral moves.

    To your second: Can you prove that has ever actually happened?

  32. immafubared says: Jan 3, 2016 11:55 AM

    The rule I want is to require black candidates. Talk about out of date. There are obviously a hoard of black candidates now that the NFL should not be afraid of. It will happen so lets stop the racism and just end the rule.
    For example without the rule, the coach at Stanford would be tops on a list due to his ability to coach but he loves Stanford so far and has opted to not go pro.

  33. immafubared says: Jan 3, 2016 11:58 AM

    Jan 3, 2016 11:02 AM
    The Rooney rule is not affirmative action, you rube.

    When have team owners ever NOT been able to hire whoever they feel the best candidate is?

    ————————————————————-
    Technically you are correct since there is no ‘percentage’ but were talking 32 different instituitions here, not one.
    I say the rule should be eliminated because there are a lot of very good black coaches out there now capable and like you said, they will hire the best fit and those fits will be black and white.

  34. pftstory says: Jan 3, 2016 12:03 PM

    Do people think Dan Quinn, one of the sought after candidates last season, was the last coach hired?
    If a coach wants a certain job, and a team wants a certain coach, the deal will be made well before his current team is done with any playoff run.

    Announcing it is another thing,

  35. tonebones says: Jan 3, 2016 12:05 PM

    I would like to see some statistics regarding hiring assistants from winning teams. For example, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels. Over the last 20 years there have been so many “hot” assistants from winning teams who got a head coaching job, only to be fired a couple years later. Most NFL teams with HOF QBs are winning. That’s not necessarily a result of great coaching. There are some really good coaches who are on losing teams. That’s not always the result of bad coaching. The Packers won a super bowl with Mike McCarthy, but they hired him off a 49ers team that had just gone 1-15. Chances are high that some of these assistant coaches that everyone is waiting for, will only be getting fired in a couple years. There are all kinds of great coaches on losing teams, and you don’t have to wait.

  36. jets13 says: Jan 3, 2016 12:11 PM

    The problem isn’t so much the head coach… it’s the availability of assistants.

    Bad Team A fires their coach after week 17 and has their eye on a hot assistant of Good Team B – and they’re willing to wait for him. Bad Team C also fires their coach after week 17 and hires a new head coach right away. Team C’s new coach now has his pick of assistants and can put together a top staff quickly. By the time Team A gets their new coach from Team B (especially if B reaches the Super Bowl), all the best staff/assistants will be gone.

    I agree with others… just as players have a free agency/”new league year” date where they can’t move around until that time, so should coaching staffs. You may not be playing after week 17, but the season should not “end” for anyone until after the SB.

    ————————

    I understand the logic of the hypothetical, i’m just looking for a specific example in reality.

    If you are an owner and rush the hire, that’s just stupid.

  37. 6thsense10 says: Jan 3, 2016 12:12 PM

    logast says:
    Jan 3, 2016 9:31 AM
    The affirmative action Rooney rule is asinine. Race should not dictate who gets interviewed for a job. Either you are the best candidate or not. Period.
    ———-
    So where were you and people like you when minority coaches who had put in YEARS as assistant coaches or coordinators couldn’t sniff an interview? Where you as up in arms over that as you are in the Rooney rule?

    This rule wasn’t made in some vacuum. Study after study showed qualified minority coaches were consistently passed over for head coaching opportunities. It is so easy to say go earn a head coaching interview when the system in place before was stacked against minorities getting that opportunity.

    Lastly
    Why is this rule such a point of contention to people like you? The rule doesn’t say teams must hire a minority only at least interview them since they were not getting interviews before the rule. In the grand scheme of things who loses because a team interviews a minority candidate? Seriously what is the issue? The team will still pick the candidate they feel is best for the job. How will interview of a minority candidate even vaguely impact your life? Teams can interview as many candidates as they want so I honestly don’t understand why you all are up in arms.

  38. pftstory says: Jan 3, 2016 12:17 PM

    Someone above said…..
    Bad Team A fires their coach after week 17 and has their eye on a hot assistant of Good Team B – and they’re willing to wait for him. Bad Team C also fires their coach after week 17 and hires a new head coach right away. Team C’s new coach now has his pick of assistants and can put together a top staff quickly. By the time Team A gets their new coach from Team B (especially if B reaches the Super Bowl), all the best staff/assistants will be gone.

    Its a tossed about theory, but it doesn’t jive with this other often talked about theory.
    Part of the interview process, we are told, is the question “Who would you bring as assistants?” So part of the process of getting hired is having that question answered. The good HC candidate already has had discussions with the top assistants he would like to bring with him. He knows who he would want to be his OC & DC and knows if they want to be on his staff.
    Dan Quinn is the example again, He wanted Shanahan. Shanahan was actually officially hired before Quinn.
    Sure the ‘better’ Running Backs coach might get hired by another team first. But the key assistants are lined up months if not years in advance.

  39. ReligionIsForIdiots says: Jan 3, 2016 12:19 PM

    The Rooney Rule is a sham, half these teams interview equipment boys just to meet the conditions required to hiring their guy.

  40. vazoof says: Jan 3, 2016 11:05 PM

    @6thsense10

    Because many teams already know who they want to hire. That they’ll get fined something like $500,000 for not interviewing a guy with darker skin pigmentation (who they don’t want and have zero shot at getting the job) is completely asinine and a waste of time for both parties.

  41. 6thsense10 says: Jan 3, 2016 11:25 PM

    vazoof says:
    Jan 3, 2016 11:05 PM
    @6thsense10

    Because many teams already know who they want to hire. That they’ll get fined something like $500,000 for not interviewing a guy with darker skin pigmentation (who they don’t want and have zero shot at getting the job) is completely asinine and a waste of time for both parties
    ———–
    If it’s a waste of time then it’s both the team’s and the interviewees’ time to waste. However the data showing an increase in minority coaches hired over the years seems to suggest this isn’t a waste of time. Just getting an interview is valuable in building a network. In any case this Rooney rule isn’t a government mandate…..this is a rule created by a PRIVATE organization to address issues in its members’ hiring of minorities. How again is it impacting your life?

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