Monday, January 08, 2007

Et Tu, Blank?

So, I guess Dan Reeves isn't coming back.

The Atlanta Falcons have hired Bobby Petrino, formerly of the University of Louisville, to be the new head coach.

Petrino was hired a mere six days after Jim Mora was fired. To me, the speed of this hire says that Arthur Blank and/or Rich McKay knew who they wanted all along, especially given that the financial details of the contract were hammered out so quickly.

And hiring who you wanted all along was one of the issues that the NFL mandated minority interviewing requirement was supposed to address. Consequently, I would like to express my disappointment that the Falcons organization brazenly trivialized the minority interviewing requirements in the way they went about hiring Petrino.

I thought it was just odd when McKay and Blank fired up the ol' private jet and went to Chicago to interview both Ron Rivera (Hispanic) and Mike Singletary (Black) in quick succession last weekend. In hindsight, they were just quickly taking care of two NFL mandated problems. I thought Singletary was an especially odd head coach interview, considering that he was only a linebackers coach. But in hindsight - if I was the cynical type - I could guess that the Falcons deliberately chose two minority candidates who seemed legitimate but would not draw much ire when they were passed over. Maybe that's why Norm Chow wasn't even interviewed.

And I'm not pining for a minority head coach for the Falcons. I want the best head coach available for the team. However if you mock the minority interviewing requirements, then I don't know how seriously you take personnel selection. Any organization committed to the human resources process would have no problem with the requirements. In fact, they would embrace them. After all, it just gives you the opportunity to cast the broadest net. So, by skirting the minority interviewing requirement, it shows a general lack of commitment to personnel selection. And, most definitely, Rich McKay's overall personnel selection has been questionable so far in Atlanta.

What was the rush? Even with the Miami job opening up, the Falcons job was probably still the best job available (the Pittsburgh job is likely going to be an inside hire). The Falcons had the leverage. Where was the effort? Wayne Huizenga allegedly flew to Costa Rica to get face time with Pete Carroll. That's serious recruiting. Alabama set the example for displaying incredible patience and getting their #1 pick, Nick Saban. That's serious recruiting. So the Falcons couldn't wait one more weekend to go fishing with Jimmy Johnson? See if Tony Dungy wanted a change of scenery after the Colts got bounced out of the playoffs? Make one good pitch to Bill Cowher? Wait and see if Bill Parcells became available? I definitely think the Falcons could have waited a little while longer to get a slam dunk choice. Frankly, the hot new college coach du juor are a dime a dozen.

Obviously, there is a reason why the Falcons hired Petrino. He is known for running an aggressive and creative offense. And we need that in Atlanta. But there are some questions with this hire. Frankly, I'm underwhelmed.

1. He is yet another college coach trying to successfully transition to the NFL. The odds are against him. And he doesn't even come from a big time program (sorry, Louisville fans).

2. The Falcons overpaid. They are paying Petrino $24 million over 5 years. That's a lot of change for an unproven college coach. Indeed, there aren't too many coaches at any level that you can't get for that price.

3. Petrino has ONE year of experience in the NFL, as an offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He went 6-10 with Mark Brunell as QB.

4. He has 12 jobs in 24 years, despite Blank claiming that he wanted a coach that would stay here for 10 or 15 years.

5. He's got a little Saban in him. He famously boarded a booster funded private place to interview for the Auburn job a couple years back when the job wasn't even open.

Mostly, I'm bitter we ended up with a college coach. To me, that is not the hire of an organization that claims it is serious about winning now. Any guy making that kind of transition needs a little bit of time for the learning curve. But I don't know if Falcons fans have that time to spare. Michael Vick isn't getting any younger. But as a Falcons fan, I'll give Coach Petrino the benefit of the doubt. But the rope is short.

1 comment:

Nobody's Reading said...

Note: I enjoy reading most of what you write. However ...

if you mock the minority interviewing requirements, then I don't know how seriously you take personnel selection.

The problem is that these "interview requirements" are a mockery all by themselves. So Atlanta wanted to hire Petrino right off the bat, and that was their guy - why on earth should they have to go and interview "minority" candidates that they have no interest in hiring? It's a waste of time to the Atlanta organization, not to mention those coaches who have no chance of getting the job. If you want to rail against something, rail against the rule -- it is beyond nonsensical.