Push Coming to Amend Interviewing Rules for Assistant Coaches
There could be a push this offseason to amend the league's tampering rules when it comes to the ability of assistant coaches to interview for jobs with other teams.
Currently, a team must grant a request by another club to interview an assistant for a head coaching job. However, a team is not obligated to grant a request by another club to interview an assistant for another assistant coaching job--even if that job represents a promotion, such as from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.
The problem, in some teams' view, is that the rule under its current configuration allows some assistants to be hidden from league-wide view. If an assistant coach is under contract and his team doesn't want him to leave, he can be kept from departing even for a promotion.
Take the case of Jim Zorn, the former quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks who just became the head coach of the Washington Redskins after initially being hired by the Redskins as their offensive coordinator. Zorn almost didn't get a chance to interview for the Redskins' offensive coordinator job.
The Seahawks weren't obligated to grant the Redskins' request to interview Zorn for the offensive coordinator position, and sources say that some members of the Seattle organization initially wanted to deny the request and keep Zorn as quarterbacks coach. But, apparently after some prodding by Coach Mike Holmgren, the Seahawks did grant the request. The Redskins interviewed and hired Zorn as offensive coordinator, and became so enamored with him that they promoted him to head coach within a matter of a few weeks.
Zorn and the Redskins were lucky. It was close to neither side getting the chance to speak to the other, and Zorn's career could have been stuck at the position coach level.
Some teams might argue that there indeed is upward mobility for "lower-tier" assistant coaches. Three of them, in fact, were hired as head coaches this offseason. In addition to Zorn, Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Tony Sparano became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh became the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. In addition, Seahawks secondary coach Jim Mora was named Holmgren's successor after next season and Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell was named the eventual successor to Coach Tony Dungy.
Still, there could be other position coaches out there ready to make the jump to coordinator jobs and not getting the chance, and there likely will be a proposal made this offseason to attempt to remedy that by forcing teams to grant all interview requests that could result in a promotion.
By Mark Maske |
February 12, 2008; 9:28 AM ET
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