The Seattle Seahawks are going to hire Pete Carroll -- a white guy -- to be their new coach, ESPN is reporting this morning, but the real story might well be how a rule to increase the number of African Americans in the NFL coaching ranks has trivialized some of them in the process.
The rule -- known as the Rooney Rule -- has resulted in more African American coaches by requiring teams to interview African Americans when a coaching vacancy occurs. True, the rule has resulted in more black coaches, but how'd you like to be put in the position Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Lesley Frazier is in? In the rush to hire Carroll, the Seahawks have pressured Frazier to be the required black interviewee.
What's wrong with that? Here's the "money paragraph" in the ESPN story that says Carrol and the Seahawks have agreed to a deal:
The hangup could be locating a candidate to interview that would put the Seahawks in compliance with the rule, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate for head-coaching hires.
That's not the way the rule is supposed to work. Teams aren't supposed to go looking for a black coaching candidate just to say they looked for one, they're actually supposed to consider their qualifications for the job.
That's not happening in this case. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting today that Frazier, an African American, is being wooed by the Seahawks, to be the show horse in the scheme.
Schefter says Frazier has agreed to the interview this morning.
"I hope when they bring in a minority candidate they legitimately are looking at that candidate as a potential head coach as opposed to satisfying the Rooney Rule," Frazier told the Pioneer Press' Bob Sansevere this week. "I'm hoping that's the case, that they are legitimately believing that this guy has a chance. "
If Schefter's report is correct, Frazier doesn't.
"Thank God for the Rooney Rule," ESPN's Bill Simmons tweeted this morning. "Otherwise Leslie Frazier never woulda had a chance to not have a chance at the Seahawks job."
I have to wonder what they are thinking in the Vikings' front office. Yes, it is a "bye" week and no they do not know their opponent yet, but if Frazier is my coach and is under contract, do I want my Defensive Coordinator jetting around under these circumstances?
Will a simple "no" suffice?
Only Leslie Frazier can explain why he would choose to interview under these circumstances. But reports in the past have indicated that candidates interviewed to satisfy the Rooney rule end up having a better chance of being considered for other vacancies. In a case like this where the outcome is already known, the Seahawks better interview someone that the rest of the league and the media would consider a "viable" candidate or else they run the risk of whatever process is in place for violations of the rule. Before the season was over and Jim Zorn was rumored to be out the Redskins satisfied the Rooney rule by interviewing one of their coordinators. It was widely believed at that time the Redskins wanted former Denver coach Mike Shanahan. In fact they may have already had a deal worked out. But it doesn't really matter. The fact that these men are being considered means that the next time a team has a vacancy and wants to go in a new direction then these coaches have experience in the interview process. They will be better prepared for their next opportunity.
And you never know maybe Pete Carroll will have second thoughts and back out on the Seahawks.