Last week, the Seattle Seahawks announced that they were hiring USC head football coach Pete Carroll to replace fired head coach Jim Mora. Mora was canned after a single season as Seahawks' head coach. Prior to announcing Carroll's hiring, the Seahawks hastily requested "an immediate" interview with Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier.
Seattle's intention in interviewing Frazier was transparent. Looking to land Carroll before he changed his mind but intent on complying with the letter, if not the spirit, of the NFL's Rooney Rule--a rule that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for coaching vacancies--the Seahawks saw their opportunity in Frazier.
Virtually immediately after Frazier interviewed with the team, Seattle announced its hiring of Carroll. The hiring marks a return to the NFL for Carroll, who last served in the league in an unremarkable role as head coach of the New York Jets.
It's possible that Carroll will succeed this time around in the NFL. It's also possible that his prior track record is indicative of future prospects.
Clearly, Seattle is gambling that Carroll will thrive--hence the large salary. What is disconcerting about the Seahawks' process, however, is that those doing the hiring believed that Carroll's prospects as a one-time, unsuccessful NFL head coach were greater than either Leslie Frazier's or numerous other minority and non-minority candidates.
The Seahawks' decision to hire Carroll points out not the racism in the NFL, but the cronyism. And it's the type of cronyism that still greatly and negatively effects the prospects of those on the outside. As someone who remained on the outside well after proving that he belonged on the inside, Tony Dungy rightfully took exception to the Seahawks' hiring decision, going a bit further in stating that, had he been in charge of making the decision, he would have hired Frazier.
Dungy's statement smacks a bit of cronyism of another sort, but it garners some sympathy when a team like the Buffalo Bills subsequently hires Chan Gailey rather than going with someone like Frazier, who, by mere definition of not being Gailey, is more promising than Gailey.
For the Vikings, the Seahawks' clear manipulation and the Bills' by-passing of Frazier means one thing. Leslie Frazier will have even more motivation to prove himself in the playoffs than he had in devising his best defensive scheme yet against the Dallas Cowboys. In the end, that will pay off both for the Vikings and Frazier.
Up Next: No Reason for Nerves.