Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Interim Thing Works?

Peter King tells us that "Interim coaches, mostly, bring fresh air and new approaches."

there have been seven interim coaches since the start of the 2007 season, and every one of them has had a better winning percentage than the coach he replaced in that season. ... Here's how the last seven teams to make in-season coaching changes have fared with the new man:
I think he's missing the point. Leslie Frazier, Jason Garrett, and Mike Singletary were earmarked as rising stars: they were guys that you would want to hire to be the head guy. Perry Fewell might be in that same category: he looks like he can coach, based on what he's done with the Bills and Giants. Putting THOSE guys in charge might be a good move regardless of when you do it. The other guys on King's list were replacing disasters (Linehan, Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino) with solid professional coaches: not stars, but not disasters either.

King's examples do not tell us that it's an awesome idea to fire a coach midseason and appoint an interim. They reinforce how important it is to get the head coaching hire right, which we sort of knew anyway. They also tell us that Frazier, Garret and Singletary (and possibly Fewell) have some potential as head coaches – which we also knew anyway. Not every team has a potential star waiting in the wings.

I suppose I should admit somewhere that (a) I am rooting for Leslie Frazier to succeed, because John Harbaugh said he's tremendous, and (b) I am rooting for Jason Garrett to fail spectacularly, because he was offered the Baltimore head job and turned it down to stay a coordinator (John Elway redux) – plus he's a Cowboy, of course. But who knows, Garrett could turn out to have a little Sean Payton in him. Which would be frightening.


  1. The Lions have an interesting recent history with interims, the more interesting than the first. In 1988 Darryl Rogers was fired midstream after a fairly disastrous four years and Wayne Fontes made interim. The team played a bit for him down the stretch and he went 2-3 which I guess was good enough. He inherited a team with a really solid young nucleus, they drafted Barry Sanders that winter and the team teased and teased for the next decade. It's hard to say what would have happened sans Fontes though. While I like to think that a great coach would have gotten a championship or two out of that group, the Lion braintrust hadn't hired a great head coach since Buddy Parker (with some apologies to Joe Schmidt).

    The more interesting one was in 2000. Bobby Ross quit with the team at 5-4, giving over to Gary Moeller. Moeller went 4-2 in his first six, before losing the last game and a playoff spot on a 47 yard field goal to the Bears as time expired.

    I am fairly certain that if the Lions win that game they keep Moeller. They keep Ron Hughes and Kevin Colbert who went on to turn the Steelers into champions. Again, it's hard to say how the Lions would have done with those guys, but what they wouldn't have done it hire Matt Millen to a (football) lifetime contract.

  2. and down goes McDaniels


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