Allowing position coaches to leave for promotions could help expand diversity

As the NFL and its teams embark on an effort to inject some (any) diversity into the hiring process, the focal point will be the Rooney Rule.

Some think another rule should receive equal scrutiny.

Several years ago, the NFL decided to allow teams to block assistant coaches under contract from taking a promotion with another team, unless the position offered is head coach.  As a result, position coaches are now routinely prevented from becoming coordinators.  Which in turn delays their ability to develop into head-coaching candidates — and to demonstrate that they are ready to take the next step.

Which ultimately makes it harder for a coaching staff chock full of talent from spawning five head coaches, like the 1992 Packers did.

Former Buccaneers defensive backs coach (and current Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin was a prime example of this dynamic.  His ascension to defensive coordinator was delayed for several years because he was stuck behind Monte Kiffin in Tampa and unable to accept that position with any other team.

Getting rid of that rule would put more up-and-coming position coaches in the pipeline for coordinator jobs, perhaps reversing the trend of churning former head coaches and former coordinators into coordinator positions.

So how will this introduce more (any) diversity into head-coaching hires?  As one league source explained it, minority position coaches who have concerns about whether the playing field is truly level are routinely tempted to embrace the security of a contract extension, which in turn prevents these coaches from becoming a coordinator with any other team until that contract expires.

Still, some think that reversing the current rule will lead to the very abuses that caused the NFL to adopt the rule in the first place.  A team that wants to pilfer another team’s offensive line coach would give its offensive coordinator a new title (“senior offensive assistant,” for example) and add offensive coordinator to the offensive line coach’s title.

It’s a valid concern, but surely the league can come up with a way to prevent this, specifically by imposing stiff penalties on anyone who hires an offensive coordinator but doesn’t actually let him coordinate the offense.

Regardless of what happens with the rule regarding the hiring of coordinators, the discussion demonstrates that the challenge of increasing diversity has no easy or obvious solution.  But that doesn’t mean we should give up trying to find one.

11 responses to “Allowing position coaches to leave for promotions could help expand diversity

  1. Minority coaches aren’t asking for handouts but some of the posts will say that this isn’t an issue. It is! It’s a Old Boyz network in some instances within the NFL. Heck, even the NFL is saying it’s an issue. These coaches just fair shake. Good example, Trestman who had a pretty good resume as an OC with some good top producing offenses (Heck..he made Gannon a Pro Bowler..Rich Gannon!) and he had to go to Canada to coach a CFL get a shot back in NFL and people are ripping the Bears for such a move (BTW, I’m a Giants fan). I would doubt that if a black coach took that same route, and then was hired fans would go up and arms and say all kinds of stuff other than the guy’s not known. The problem is that there are alot of great coaches who don’t even get a chance. That’s a problem!

  2. @ howiefeltersnatch, that’s not what the issue is. No one is saying to hire an inferior coach for a qualified. Don’t get it twisted

  3. Taking race completely out of it, it’s ridiculous that teams can block position coaches from moving on to coordinator jobs.

    If it’s a promotion, they should be allowed to take it.

  4. Diversity is a repugnant concept and insulting to everyone. We should never seek racial purity and goals to advance racial issues when we ignore other areas where there is just as much racial imbalance (but it is politically acceptable).

    On this MLK day, let us advance those who deserve advancing through their efforts and ignore the color of their skin.

    Selective racial balance is far more repugnant than any asserted (and unproved) racism in hiring.

  5. That is unbelievable that such a ridiculous rule exists. It should be a total free market where coaches can go to whichever team they’d like!! Unreal what is this China?!

  6. I like the idea, although it would hurt my team. If you’re a team trying to assemble a new coaching staff, wouldn’t you love to pluck a Ben McAdoo or possibly an Edgar Bennett (who would get plenty of interviews under a restructured Rooney Rule) as your new OC after being under the tutelage of Mike McCarthy for 5 plus years? Instead, you have to either pull from the college ranks are look for guys who are currently unemployed (and most for a good reason). Look at the Raiders pulling Greg Olson in. He stinks.

    You get the same retreads getting coordinator positions and failing over and over again but a guy can’t advance to OC or DC without being on a staff that gets fired first?

  7. If the rule chane includes the following verbage I think it could work.

    “The offensive coordinator position is considered vacant only if the incumbent leaves the team or accepts the teams head coaching position.”

  8. I completely agree. Any coach should be allowed to accept a promotion other than head coach from another team other than when offered.

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