Black Football Coaches Shut Out of Eight NFL Head Coach Vacancies

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Lovie Smith

Lovie Smith, former head coach of the Chicago Bears, was the only minority coach possibly considered to fill the 6 vacant NFL head-coaching positions. (photo VIA Thegrio.com)

It was announced this morning that Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will be the next coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

That means the Cardinals, in addition to Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Chicago, and San Diego have filled all of their head coaching vacancies. Eight out of the 30 teams, in the NFL, did not hire or barely even considered a minority candidate for the job.

Many people thought Lovie Smith, the former Chicago Bears head coach, would take the head coaching job with another team, like Buffalo. Buffalo chose Syracuse University head coach Doug Marone

If you are a football fan, you’re probably aware of the deep pool of NFL assistants that have the potential to be head coaches, most of them being minorities. So why aren’t they being considered?

Mike Freeman of cbssports.com, had to good explanation to why so many successful minority NFL assistants can’t break through to the next level. He writes,

We can debate the Rooney Rule or that there is a lack of minority assistants in key offensive coordinator positions. That last fact is pointed to often as a reason for the dearth of hires this NFL cycle — or college cycle for that matter, which was equally inexcusable.

The real reason for the problem can be exemplified with the Arians hire. The real reason is coaches of color have still not broken into, in significant numbers, the NFL’s old-boy network. They are, to many owners and others in the NFL, outsiders. Until that changes, the numbers will remain somewhat bleak.

This is what I mean. Arians was fired by the Pittsburgh Steelers — some reports said Arians retired, others said his contract was not renewed. The truth is he was let go by the team.

After that, Chuck Pagano, coach of the Indianapolis Colts, hired Arians to be his offensive coordinator. Pagano and Arians are close friends.

When Pagano fell ill, Arians became the interim coach.

And that sequence, more than anything, illustrates the biggest reason for the problem. There are almost no black coaches who could get fired from a nice position (or retire or not have his contract renewed) and then have a close enough friend as a head coach who could immediately give him the same nice position.

Most black assistants don’t have those types of connections. They are not part of that network. They also don’t quickly get that same type of chance.

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Here are some photos of NFL assistants I believe can be head coaches in the NFL.

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