There’s a chance that 10 NFL head coaches could get fired tomorrow (or sometime tonight); apparently Rod Chudzinski (Browns) and Jim Schwartz (Lions) have already been fired, per various Internet reports. Then there’s this…
Last year, eight coaches and five GMs got the ax. This year, it’ll probably be roughly that, if not more.
We love speculation, and we love new hope. We love thinking that someone is going to come in, take the reins of a team we love, and lead it to new heights. We love the guessing game and trying to figure out what the moves are before they happen. This is all human nature. But the insane thing about Black Monday is how deep the repercussions can run, from colleges to pros and back again — especially because coaches develop relationships over time and carry “their people” with them.
Let’s look back at January 2010, because it’s fairly relevant now — it seems like the Seattle Seahawks are going to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs, and will likely be considered the prohibitive favorite in the entire playoffs (maybe Denver could stake a claim there, but not even). They got Pete Carroll from USC in January 2010 (some claim he jumped ship because of impending sanctions), which led to Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee for USC, which led to Derek Dooley leaving Louisiana Tech for Tennessee, which led to Sonny Dykes leaving Arizona (he was OC) for Louisiana Tech, which led to co-offensive coordinators in Tucson, and so on. Consider the multiple levels of crazy here, though:
1. Because the Seattle Seahawks owner had an interest in a candidate (Carroll), suddenly within 72-96 hours a college program in Tucson, Arizona is looking for a new offensive coordinator.
2. A 17 year-old kid somewhere who had been recruited extensively by someone like Dykes to Arizona now is thinking about living in Ruston, Louisiana in order to play for him.
3. Out of all those guys linked above, only Carroll still has the same job — and this was only about four years ago! Kiffin is unemployed. Dooley is back in the NFL working with the Dallas Cowboys. Sonny Dykes is the head coach at Cal. Even one of the co-offensive coordinators at Arizona is now working at Oklahoma.
People love to talk about how we don’t live in a “work at the same place for 40 years and get the gold watch” world anymore, and that’s true — people like to jump around a lot, within reason (ultimately it looks bad on your resume in the real world if you do this too much). But the rules of the football coaching world are unlike anything else out there — years later, seemingly no one is in the same place. Some aren’t even at the same level (college/pro). And all this happens within hours, like dominoes.
Think about this year: everyone wants to assume Bill O’Brien is about to be the head coach of the Houston Texans. Let’s say that’s true. Now PSU has an opening. There are rumors that guys like Greg Schiano and James Franklin might want it. If one of them gets it, suddenly Tampa Bay (NFL) or Vanderbilt has an opening, provided Schiano wasn’t fired by Tampa Bay already. If Al Golden of Miami becomes a candidate at PSU, now Miami has an opening. Whoever fills it has an opening — and so on down the line. Because of the first-mover (the Texans, in this case), literally hundreds of lives are changed (recruits, their parents, boosters, other coaching staff members, the athletic departments of the schools involved, the staff of the NFL teams involved, etc.) And this happens within hours.
I realize this isn’t breaking news, per se, but think about the drastic contrast between how this works and how “the real world” works — in the latter, you tend to stay at jobs for a few years, if not longer, for “consistency.” It’s much harder for someone to fire you after one year (i.e. Chudzinski in Cleveland). And when you do choose to leave, or you are fired, it’s a long, drawn-out process that usually involves about three months or more of work from start to finish. Relevant people have time to prepare. Not so here. Someone could be moving from Miami to western PA, or California to Nashville, or wherever to wherever, around New Year’s Day — and all because of how things shake out beginning tomorrow.
I wrote this entire thing without even mentioning the Texas Longhorns search, too.
Also to note: when and if Rex Ryan and Jim Schwartz get fired, none — zero — of the 2009 hires will still have jobs, a scant five years later. Crazy.