And Then There Were 4…
January 29, 2013
Since the Rooney Rule was implemented in 2003, 12 African Americans and 1 Hispanic American have been hired as a head coach in either a full time or interim role. This rule has given many minorities coaching opportunities, that previously wouldn’t have had a chance pre-Rooney Rule. This offseason however, the rule has come under scrutiny because a bigger issue has emerged. No minorities have been offered coaches positions, and after Lovie Smith and Romeo Crennel were fired, only 4 minority head coaches remain. One of the reasons I’ve heard that no minority head coaches were hired was because there weren’t any qualified candidates. Really now?
Jim Caldwell ring a bell? How about Charlie Strong? Ray Horton? Sylvester Croom? Lovie Smith? to name a few…
When Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator for the Ravens in December, the offense improved significantly. Ray Rice and the running game saw a boost in production. In the playoffs the Ravens have averaged 138.7 rushing yards pg. Caldwell also has head coaching experience. When Tony Dungy retired, Caldwell took over for the Colts, led them to a 14-2 regular season and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Charlie Strong just inked an 8 year extension with Louisville that will pay him approximately 3.7 million a year. His raise is well deserved after his Cardinal’s finished 11-2 with an upset bowl win over #3 Florida 33-23.
Ray Horton, now the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, was the DC for the Arizona Cardinals this past year. The Cardinals defense was a solid, scrappy bunch under Horton’s leadership. They ranked #5 in the league against the pass, giving up only 200.5 yards pg.
Sylvester Croom is currently the running back coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a former head coach for Mississippi State. Despite having a overall lack of talent, he managed to beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide back-to-back seasons and was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 2007. If you ever get a chance, watch ESPNU’s film “Croom”. During an interview for this film, Croom gave a powerful quote that gives insight on the type of person that he is…
“When I went into a player’s home and told Mom and Daddy that I was going to treat their son like he was mine, that was the truth. If you send your boy to me, if you send him to our program, four years from now you’ll get a grown man back. He’ll be prepared to provide for himself and his family. He will have his degree. Because if he comes here, I will not play him if he won’t go to class. I’m not going to exploit his athletic talents and he leave here with nothing. That was a promise I made to every one of their parents.”
Lovie Smith lead the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at QB. Enough said.
Now let’s look at some of the head coaches that were hired…
Andy Reid, New Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs: Reid is coming off of a 2-14 season, 8-8 the year before, with a talented roster. Many considered the Eagles to be Super Bowl contenders the past 2 years. Instead we saw and undisciplined team that was a turnover machine on offense, and couldn’t stop anyone on defense. Andy Reid was unemployed for 6 six days! Not only did he become a HC, he also was given input on General Manager decisions as well.
Rod Chudzinski, New Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns: Chudzinski worked as an assistant HC for Norv Turner from 2009-2010. The past 2 years he was the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers went 7-9 this year. Cam Newton and the offense took a step back from his rookie campaign, and was inconsistent to say the least. Many times during the year Newton looked lost in an offense that wasn’t catered to his style of play. The offense started to pick it up towards the end of a year, but was Chudzinski really the Browns best option going forward?
Marc Trestman, New Head Coach of the Chicago Bears: Trestman has spent some time in CFL as HC for the Montreal Alouettes. His teams were outstanding on the offensive end. In 2011 the Alouettes lead the CFL in scoring (28.6 points per game), total offence (403.8 yards per game), and passing (309 yards per game). Despite his success in the CFL, I wouldn’t say that Trestman will be a sure thing in the NFL.
Obviously there needs to be an adjustment to the Rooney Rule. As of 2011 there are 1,773 minorities playing in the NFL, which makes up 70%. Despite making up 70% of the players, only 4 minorities are qualified to be a HC in the National Football League? As Chad Johnson would say, “Chile please.” So now what? The NFL can’t force owners to hire minority coaches, so the next best thing is to tweak the Rooney Rule. Instead of just being used for a head coaching search, this rule should apply for every level of coaching. Minorities need more opportunities to coach at the professional level so they can perfect their craft while establishing a network with other coaches. This will in turn increase their changes of landing head coaching positions. More importantly, there needs to be a change in mindset among the NFL owners. Teams are taking chances on coaches like Rod Chudzinski and Marc Trestman, but shy away from the Sylvester Croom’s, and Ray Horton’s of the world. From that standpoint, there is huge disparity in the perception of minority coaches and their white counterparts. Once the state of mind of NFL owners change and a tweek of the Rooney Rule is implemented, we will truly begin to see diversity in NFL leadership positions.