Saturday, November 1, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #201, Nov. 3, 2008 (

“Bum” Phillips, former NFL head football coach of the Houston Oilers once said, “There are two kinds of head coaches; those that have been fired and those that are ABOUT to be fired.” Each year the month of October seems to bring realism to Phillips’ statement. (

After the St. Louis Rams went 0-4 to start the 2008 NFL season, management fired head coach Scott Linehan, replacing him with interim head coach Jim Haslett ( Haslett was on Linehan’s staff as the defensive coordinator, as well being as a former All-Pro Linebacker on the Buffalo Bills and former (he was fired) head coach of the New Orleans Saints. Haslett was promised the permanent job, if the Rams won 6 of their remaining games. (

The San Francisco 49ers ( fired head coach Mike Nolan (, in October, in his third year as head coach. The Niners were 2-5 after losing to the world champion New York Giants the weekend before Nolan’s termination. The Niners replaced Nolan with defensive coordinator Mike Singletary - as interim coach. Singletary had never been a head coach, but was a Hall of Fame (’98) Linebacker for the Super Bowl (XX) champs Chicago Bears. ( At this writing, Haslett has gone 2-1, while Singletary lost his first game as head coach. I know both coaches personally and have great respect for their character, talent and leadership strengths.

What makes these changes interesting is the “Rooney Rule.” Dan Rooney (, Chairman of the NFL Owners’ Committee on ”diversity hiring,” urged the owners to create a rule whereby a club (team) must interview qualified minority coaches in the process of selecting a new head coach ( . If you were the Rams, what would you do in hiring a head coach, interview all qualified candidates, yet feeling that, since Haslett (a non-minority) has done the job you asked of him, Haslett can’t be your automatic pick?

Singletary, an African-American, was not offered anything beyond this 2008 season. However, since Singletary is a minority, the Niners (as I interpret the Rooney Rule) could offer Singletary the job in 2009 WITHOUT interviewing other qualified candidates. What about Ron Rivera, a Hispanic, newly named San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator? ( Rivera wants to interview for an NFL head coaching job. The Rams have to interview him, if he wants to -- the Niners don’t.

Diversity, as written in It’s the Will, Not the Skill (see chapter 9), is important. Diversity, however, without unity is of little value. Coach Herm Edwards ( has followed the path, “Just show me an opportunity; I’ll work for it!”

Will you honor qualifications as well as diversity when offering jobs to candidates?

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