Are NFL Teams Really Serious About Hiring Minority Head Coaches??
As someone who can only be classified as an "Interested Observer" I can't speak to what goes through the mind of NFL Team Front Offices when it comes to hiring Head Coaches. It's possible they take every candidate seriously and try to cast as diverse a net as possible when it comes to finding the best possible candidate.
But despite having rules in place like the Rooney Rule, on the surface, one has to wonder if they really do adhere to the belief of whom the best candidate for their particular job has to fit a certain "Demographic".
I say this for several reasons: One, the NFL Head Coaching Fraternity is not exactly a diverse cross section of America or even the NFL as a whole. 32 teams and 4 minority Head Coaches (3 African-American, 1 Hispanic).
Maybe it is just a random coincidence and there are no preconceived notions involved with this---maybe there isn't.
Much like in College, this offseason has not had a lot of jobs come open: 4 teams fired their Head Coach after the 2019 season came to an end. Carolina, Cleveland, Dallas and the New York Giants. Three of those jobs have already been filled at the time I write this.
Dallas hired Mike McCarthy, a former Super Bowl winner in Green Bay, Carolina hired Matt Rhule, the hot "College" candidate of the offseason. The Giants--they chose a guy named Joe Judge, who apprenticed as a Special Teams/Recievers coach for the New England Patriots. Cleveland--being Cleveland still hasn't hired anyone at the time I write this.
Jerry Jones at least publicly just ignored the Rooney Rule it appears, having McCarthy ready to go as soon as he got around to asking Jason Garrett to leave the building. It's not clear if Dallas ever talked to anyone else.
Rhule was a bit of a surprise at Carolina, again it was not made clear who got a chance to even talk to team owner David Tepper. The real question is about the Giants---who are the team I really wonder about if for no other reason than why hire a guy who's name had been tossed about but was not nearly as qualified as just about any other candidate.
Guys left out this cycle: Eric Bienemy, the top Assistant for Andy Reid in Kansas City and a guy Reid has publicly endorsed as someone ready to take over a team. Byron Leftwich (yes, the former QB) has been a huge success running offenses in Arizona and Tampa Bay the past two seasons and his boss, Bruce Arians has sung Leftwich's praises far and wide. Kris Richard of the Cowboys is another who is mentioned as a future potential Head Coach. But that's as far as it goes.
Listen, I'm not going to sit here and back-seat quarterback hiring decisions. I'm not qualified to do that. It just is astonishing to me that a guy like Judge---who's only on the surface qualification is being on Bill Belichick's staff for the past 10-years as a mid-level assistant got a shot at running a team before Bienemy or Leftwich or Richard or for that matter any number of more qualified candidates.
We all know the NFL Coaching is all about going with trends. Last season it was hiring anyone who's ever had a connection with L.A. Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. That brought us Matt LaFleur in Green Bay and Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. And yes, the Packers were very good, making the 2019 playoffs. The Cardinals showed some signs of life with a less than adequate NFL roster.
Almost every offseason we get a spate of hires connected to the Belichick coaching tree and to this point, with the possible exception of Brian Flores in Miami, Bill O'Brien in Houston and Mike Vrabel in Tennessee, none of them have been successful. Check out this coaching lineup: Lovie Smith, Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, Matt Patricia, Josh McDaniels. All former Patriots Assistants, all failed Head Coaches.
Yes, it's very possible I'm overstating the problem here and teams really are making efforts to include everyone in the process and just hire the best available candidate. But considering this is a league that only in the past decade has come to the realization that a "Black" Quarterback is more than capable of being successful in the league. This is the same league that had some scouts and experts label a generational talent like Lamar Jackson as someone who might need to be a Wide Receiver or Running Back because he wasn't the traditional 6-4, tall, lanky white guy with a big throwing arm the league accepts as the norm at QB.
There's no compelling reason for there to be potential Head Coaches not hired due to their ethnicity. The NFL, because of it's stature, isn't required to list everyone who they interview for jobs. Yes, you can argue, it's the choice of whomever is in charge and you'd be right.
I'm only raising the question. All those years ago when the league adopted the "Rooney Rule" requiring teams to interview minority candidates, we thought things would diversify and even out. They haven't. There are a list of coaches who will get the obligatory interview to meet the requirements, but never get the job.
Change in the NFL comes glacially. It's like trying to get the Titanic to adjust course. So many things in the league are done because "It's the way we've always done it" which is an excuse more than a legitimate reason to change.
Maybe this will all change next year. Maybe the cycle will lean towards hiring a more diverse field of coaches with Coordinator or Assistant Head Coaching experience.
Then again, we're talking about the NFL, so it probably won't....