Super Bowl media week is in full swing and the ratio of blather to real insight is at an all-time high. One of the more interesting points of discussion concerns the Rooney Rule. Instituted after the 2002 season, the Rooney rule requires NFL teams to interview African Americans for head coaching vacancies. The rule does not, of course, require teams to hire an African American - merely to talk one. Of the talking heads I have been listening to today, including Mike and Mike and the "professor" John Clayton, there's strong support for the rule. Golic and Greenberg have both endorsed it and Greenberg noted that it was "frankly embarassing" that prior to Rooney in 2002, there were only two African American coaches. Adding to the support for the rule was Lovie Smith's comment yesterday that he never would have gotten the job had it not been for the rule. And, it's widely recognized that Mike Tomlin ended up getting the Pittsburgh Steelers' job because of the rule. Prior to Tomlin's interview, Russ Grimm had a stone cold lock on the job. But, apparently, Tomlin, who only got the interview due to Rooney, apparently blew the Steelers away and ended up with the job (as an aside, I would love, one time, a useful description of what prospective coaches are asked to talk about when they interview for a job).
But the subject has also come up today in connection with the Dallas Cowboys' head coaching search. Mike Singletary, universally regarded as a future head coach in the league, will be interviewing for the job even though there appears to be no chance he's going to get the job. Because of this, Mike and Mike have wondered whether Singletary should even bother, because it seems superfluous except to satisfy the rule. Technically, the Cowboys don't have to see Singletary, since they've already talked to a Parcells assistant, Todd Bowles. But, according to Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Before Singletary, Jones also interviewed a member of Parcells' staff, Todd Bowles, who is black. Some candidates get a more in-depth visit than others. Norv Turner, for example, received a lengthy interview with Jones, extending from Sunday into Monday.
Bowles' interview was much briefer. Maybe an hour. So brief, "The time he spent waiting outside the office for the interview was longer than the time he spent inside the office," one Cowboys' insider put it.
So, it doesn't look like Singletary is going to get much of a fair shake, at least not this time around. OK, now this is all a fine discussion as far as it goes. But, there's one thing missing: why isn't everyone in an uproar about the fact that Norv Turner is the likely winner of the job competition?
A couple of days ago, echoing ESPN.com's Bomani Jones, I said that we'll know we've made progress when there is a Black Gene Shue, a chronically bad coach who keeps getting jobs. Well, Turner is Gene Shue. Turner's been a head coach for nine seasons. In that time, he has made the playoffs exactly once and compiled a truly pathetic 58-82-1 record overall (he was fired midway through one season). Turner has a history in Dallas, having served as offensive coordinator for the first two of the three super bowl rings that the Aikman-era Cowboys won. But, seriously, aren't there two dozen guys, White and Black, who have a better shot at success than Turner. As an offensive coordinator, Turner was innovative and successful. As a head coach, he showed nothing - neither as a tactician, a motivator, or a developer of talent.
Can we please hear someone question owner Jerry Jones' judgment here. Why do hacks like Turner keep getting third chances while we wring our hands about whether minority candidates need the Rooney rule to even get a foot in the door?
Update: Chris Mortensen just reported that Singletary ended up spending seven hours with Jones today and is now a serious candidate. It still leaves unanswered the question of why Turner is a serious candidate.