Timing for hiring of coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs must change

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Last week, Peter King proposed a moratorium on any coaching interviews or hires until after the Super Bowl. It would make for a far more fair playing field, even if the rule would routinely be violated with off-the-record conversations that never officially happened.

Before considering such a radical change, why not dust off an idea that died on the vine three years ago? In 2017, the Competition Committee proposed a rule change that would have permitted a club to “negotiate and reach an agreement with a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.”

The proposal was made in March, the owners discussed it in May (the meeting where many proposals go to die), and then it died. It should be resurrected.

From time to time, a team will wait to hire a coach whose team is still playing, with the eventual hire one of the worst-kept secrets in the league. So why not let it become official, with the understanding that the new coach will not actually take the job until after his team’s season ends.

Any “what if?” scenario that could be conjured regarding potential distractions applies whether the assistant coach has accepted an offer or not, from thinking about the next job (instead of the task at hand) to lining up assistants, to considering any of the many logistical issues that will need to quickly be handled once things become official.

There’s an important reason for allowing assistant coaches to be hired before their teams end their playoff runs. For the Browns, two minority candidates — 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy — couldn’t have been hired at the time the hire was made. (As it’s currently going, Biemieny could have been available tonight.) So the Browns were able to hire Kevin Stefanski, who was available, at a time when Saleh and Bieniemy couldn’t have been hired, providing Cleveland with a certain amount of cover for not actually hiring a minority candidate.

Even without that reason, it makes sense to let teams hire their preferred candidates even if their seasons haven’t ended. The team shouldn’t have to wait, and a candidate shouldn’t have to worry about possibly getting passed over simply because someone else can be hired immediately.

14 responses to “Timing for hiring of coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs must change

  1. Peter is right, ban all coaching changes throuighout the playoffs. Anyone found vialoting this rule is banned from the NFL for 5 years, with the team losing their next 5 first round picks.

  2. “There’s an important reason for allowing assistant coaches to be hired before their teams end their playoff runs.”
    **************************************************************************************
    Your reason is that this year there happens to be 2 really good minority candidates?

    How about waiting until after the Superbowl so that it is about keeping it fair for everyone?

    Teams that are currently playing, can keep their coaches focused on the task at hand & preparing for a big-game, instead of flying to another city to cram for an interview.

    Teams that are hiring will likely get a better interview from a candidate that is not also burning the candle on preparing for a big-game.

    The NFL has always said they are focused on the integrity of the game. There is no reason that bottom-feeding teams with job openings need to take time away from the top-tier during the most competitive time of the season. It’s not good for the fans.

  3. Owners don’t want their employees working for someone else while they still cash paychecks with their signatures.

    This is exactly why Saban fired Kiffin ahead of the Natl Championship game.

  4. I agree with King. You can fire as quickly as you want, but you won’t be able to start you official process until February. Unofficial back channel negotiations already happen. Can’t stop it. But you can stop coordinators from having incentive to lose.

  5. The Browns are the only vacancy. Stefanski wasn’t going anywhere; they wanted him, for better or for worse.

  6. Before considering such a radical change, why not dust off an idea that died on the vine three years ago? In 2017, the Competition Committee proposed a rule change that would have permitted a club to “negotiate and reach an agreement with a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.”
    _________________________________

    BThere a very good reason that idea died on the vine, because that would take time from that coach doing what he’s paid to be doing, concentrating all his time and effort into getting his CURRENT team ready to play, it’s a HUGE and un-needed distraction!

    WHAT AN IDIOTIC IDEA!

  7. COMPLETELY DISAGREE…..
    I think they shouldn’t be able to interview anyone still in the playoffs…. As a Vikings fan I can remember 3 specific immediate hires of our coordinators after they laid an egg in big playoff games..
    98 Billick is hired by the Ravens after the NFC championship flop
    2017 Shurmur is hired by the Giants after the NFC championship flop
    today Stefanski is hired after a divisional flop….
    I know it’s happened to other teams but it’s easier for me to give examples from the team that I follow the closest….

  8. spaz5150 says:
    January 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    98 Billick is hired by the Ravens after the NFC championship flop

    ///////////////////////////

    Rumor had it that Scott Studwell had to be restrained from going after Billick because he stopped coaching after 1st half of the game.

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