Is the Rooney Rule Working?

Is the Rooney Rule Working?

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ unless you are on the coaching staff of a struggling NFL franchise that is. Black Monday approaches and already two teams – the Jaguars and Rams – have taken care of business early by relieving Gus Bradley and Jeff Fisher of their duties.

With coach firings come coach hirings, and the NFL utilises what they call the Rooney Rule in order to ensure equal opportunities within the process. The rule itself came into effect in 2003 and obliges teams to interview minority applicants for head coaching roles. It is a rule that some accuse teams of paying ‘lip-service’ too and has come under fire of late from some of the games top names.

The NFL commissioner who was at the helm when the Rooney Rule came into practice was Paul Tagliabue, he recently stated “I don’t think the Rooney Rule has done as much as anyone hoped it would”.

Looking at trends in Head Coach hiring the last few seasons, we have seen jobs for Todd Bowles at the Jets and Hue Jackson at the Browns. But one assistant coach has been interviewed over and over just to see someone else get the job over him.

Teryl Austin’s Lion’s defense is having a great year, conceding the least points in the NFL between weeks 6 and 14, he is fully deserving of consideration for a head coach position again this year. The problem is that after 8 interviews in 2 years he may be fed up with trying. Speaking about his 4 interviews last season Austin suggested that he may have only had a “legitimate shot at the job” in 2 of those interviews.

The L.A. Rams have been quoted as searching for a ‘big name’, with names touted such as Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh, Jon Gruden and Nick Saban. The Jacksonville Jaguars may already have Bradley’s replacement on staff in Doug Marrone, there could also be a return for former coach Tom Coughlin.

Could this mean that the job will be filled prior to interviews? If so it would suggest that any interviews for a minority applicant would be a waste of his or her time.

Speaking recently, Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy did not mince his words suggesting teams think along the lines of “Let me just interview a minority candidate and then get down to the business of hiring who I feel like I should hire”.

Dungy went on to suggest that there may not be malice in their thoughts simply that they are rushing to hire the hot name before anyone else – be it the unemployed successful Head Coach or current up-and-coming assistant. This would certainly be the case if names linked to the Rams and Jaguars are found to be correct.

Overall it is an excellent concept but as with all rules we don’t like in our careers, we find the best way to make the rule work which suits us. If it is true and the NFL teams are not taking the Rooney Rule seriously, it would be a sad day for the sport.



picture credit:

Duncan Terry

Duncan covers the NFC West, as unbiased as possible for a Seahawks fan, promising “I just like good football”. He has been writing online for around four years for various publications enjoying Football, Cricket, Rugby League and anything else he can find on TV that weekend. Priding himself in being a realist when it comes to opinions on sport, you won’t catch him jumping on any pre-season bandwagons. Also a big fan of Fantasy sports, ask nicely and he will show you his 3 seasons in a row collection of winners medals. You can follow Duncan on Twitter at @DuncanJTerry.

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