Found January 19, 2013 on
Ditka in a Box:
The National Football League is the most progressive of the major sports when it comes to advancing to put a better product on the field. The same cannot be said for their front office and coaching hiring practices. The NFL just has their eighth head coaching position fill when the Arizona Cardinals selected Bruce Arians as their new coach. The pigmentation of the eighth coach selected seems strikingly similar to the other seven coaches hired this year. There is a problem with the “Rooney Rule” but the problem that is happening goes far beyond the hiring process. It bleeds into the assistant coaches the supporting cast and perhaps beyond the NCAA ranks. The problem with the “Rooney Rule” is that it is tremendously antiquated and it encompasses a small percentage of the careers that it should.
I remember years ago watching Buckeye Robert Smith play. He was the single smartest player I’ve ever watched both on and off the field. He is now one of the most insightful commentators on the collegiate game in the business. The question I’ve asked for a while is “why hasn’t some team asked him to bring his intelligence to their organization?” Honestly, I have no idea what Robert Smith’s motivations are but it begs the question why “skill position” players, who are predominantly black so rarely moved into leading positions in the NFL.
Ignore the train wreck that the Oakland Raiders are for a moment, their hiring practices are more in line with the demographic of the players of the NFL than perhaps any team in the NFL or the college ranks. They started with Tom Flores, continued with Art Shell (twice to horrible reviews) and continued through Hue Jackson. Their position coaches are ex-Raider players first and outside hires second. Or at least they were. A season after Al Davis died; their hiring looked more in line with current hiring practices in the NFL.
The fact is this, Hue Jackson took an awful Oakland team and made them competitive and Lovie Smith continually put a good product on the field (despite some really suspect decisions by the upper management). Neither got a legitimate shot at a head position this off-season. The hiring practices of the NFL are a little suspect.
The fact is also that the NCAAs hiring practices are far more difficult to digest. Less than ten percent of Division 1 coaches in the NCAA are minorities. It’s a terrible percentage and worse when considering their rehire rate. Sure the Lane Kiffins of the world will get rehired to a head coaching position the Turner Gills have a much more difficult path.
As it goes, if the NFL doesn’t make wild changes to the “Rooney Rule” their history is doomed to repeat itself. It can’t demand that the NCAA and its booster alter itself, so they must put themselves under their own microscope. Instead of the “Rooney Rule” applying to only GMs and Head Coaches, it should apply to assistant coaches and position coaches and should have a hiring policy that insists teams hire from within the organization as it applies to retired players. By enforcing these ideals they would force themselves to look into their own pasts to players who helped develop their own rosters in the first place. I think that they’ll find that living by these bylaws that their hiring practices won’t have the same pigmentation issues that the 2013 head coaching class had.
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