Colts' hiring of Jeff Saturday angers NFL coaches and executives over lack of experience and hiring process

Colts’ hiring of Jeff Saturday angers NFL coaches and executives over lack of experience and hiring process

Nobody knows how the Jeff Saturday experiment will play out in Indianapolis. Even Saturday himself admitted it.

But Jim Irsay’s decision to install an interim head coach with no college or professional coaching experience has upset coaches and executives across the league, especially those of color.

The league’s black coaches and executives told CBS Sports they are exhausted by what they see as a continuing problem with the league’s various hiring practices. The league has regularly amended the Rooney Rule and created programs such as the Quarterback Summit and the Accelerator Program intended to showcase promising coaches and staff in front of decision makers, but the league has only five permanent minority coaches (including three black men) and just saw an interim role go to an outside hire in a move unprecedented in the Super Bowl era.

“[Irsay] just said in front of the whole nation that he got it because he has no experience,” a black executive said. “These people have us chasing our tails for what they’re looking for. With these programs, I’m done with all that shit. Choose someone else.”

Another executive said, “If I do [go] and if they ask me to participate, they won’t like what I say.”

When asked for his reaction to Saturday’s hiring, a black coach sent CBS Sports the photo taken during the accelerator program of the dozens of qualified minority candidates in the pipeline.

In a Friday phone interview with CBS Sports, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said he was not surprised by Irsay’s decision to set up as coach on Saturday. – interim chief. Vincent noted Irsay’s familiarity with Saturday, as well as the former Pro Bowl center’s consulting work with the team and his winning years on the court, as reasons for his understanding of the nomination.

“It’s the members who are looking for answers and didn’t believe the answers were internal. I’m deleting racing. I’ve been in a locker room before where coaches were deleted. And I understand the feelings one can have But at the end of the day, when your club is completely underperforming against expectations, you make the call you think is the best to get you through the season.

“And those people who might feel like this opportunity should have been presented to someone else potentially on the list…I would say if it was John Fox, would we be having this conversation today? Probably not If it was Gus Bradley, would we be having this conversation today? Probably not. But if it was a minority outside the organization, would we be having this conversation today?

Indeed, it’s impossible that few would have balked if Irsay had installed a coach currently on staff who already had head coaching experience. It happens all the time, and it happened last month in Carolina when former Cardinals coach Steve Wilks took on the interim role after Matt Rhule was fired.

What makes Saturday’s hire unique is that he is the first person in the NFL since 1961 to become a head coach without college or professional coaching experience. Additionally, only two coaches since 1986 have been appointed on an interim basis as outside appointments. No one in the Super Bowl era has coached a team with “high school” at the top of their coaching resume, and Saturday is just the third outside acting appointment in 35 years.

In a text, an NFL head coach said the appointment was “not fair to the profession.”

Rod Graves, executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said in a statement earlier this week that while the spirit of the Rooney Rule “is to expand opportunity, we believe it should be applied consistently, even in the hiring of temporary positions”.

The Colts did not violate the Rooney rule in appointing Saturday because it does not apply to interim positions.

“We know Rod has concerns about this and other people have spoken about it,” NFL diversity officer Jonathan Beane said in a call with CBS Sports. “It will be a matter that will be discussed by the DEI committee, as they always talk about any particular issue that they feel needs to be discussed in more depth. With that, I am certain that this discussion will take place. But as of right now the spirit of the rule has not been violated in any way because when it comes to acting positions there is no application of the Rooney rule.”

Beyond racing matters, the Colts may have done some reputational damage that may last past the end of Saturday’s interim term. Whether the Colts are just a head coach or both coach and general manager, Irsay shows he can act with brashness and a heavy hand.

“I want them to realize that they are weakening the allure of this job that they will face in eight weeks when there are other openings,” said a team executive.

Both Vincent and Beane said their goal is to be well prepared once the hiring cycle begins near the end of the regular season. This is where they hope the work they have done at the league office will help NFL team owners make the most informed decisions where they also place a high value on valuing diversity. .

“Right now it can almost become a distraction from what’s really important,” Vincent said before listing more than a dozen qualified trainer candidates from all races. “And what’s really important is that these people are ready for the clubs that are hiring. At the moment we know there are two [openings.] It is under our control. What is under our control, what can we see, what is real?

“The Indianapolis Colts will be hiring a new coach with all the guidelines, practices and policies in place as soon as their season ends. And then the Carolina Panthers, same thing. Making sure we’re talking about these men here, c It’s both Black and White to try to create that level playing field.”

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