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New Coaching Rules Needed - By Bryan Hersh Dec 23 2006

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The need to find the right head coach is very important in the NFL but that importance should not supercede the needs of the various teams from which those coaches are plucked. Interviewing 8 to10 coaches, as the Cowboys did, over a period of a month or longer is simply an abuse of the process.

At its foundation the problem is one of scarcity. As one team draws out the process of hiring a coach from another team, the list of potential replacements for that candidate evaporates - leaving mainly inadequate replacements for the coach that was hired away. It is for this reason that the coaching hiring procedures in the NFL need to be overhauled.

There are four changes that can be made to improve the process. These alterations can be implemented independently, but when taken on sum provide the greatest improvements:

1. Place a statute of limitations on exposure of coaches. Although I do not object to teams taking there time in finding the right coach for the job, I do believe that teams should be limited as to how long they can keep another team waiting on the coaching decision. Limiting the opportunity to hire a coach to one week from the initial interview, would prevent a team from holding one third of the league hostage, and reduce the effects of scarcity. Of course, for this to work, it would be necessary to bar a team from hiring a particular coach after the week of opportunity has passed.

2. Remove restrictions on hiring coaches for lateral moves. This change would be particularly effective at increasing the number of suitable coaches available to replace a lost coach. It would also inflate coaching salaries, allowing assistant coaches to be paid as per their worth to a particular team rather than simply based on position title.

3. Limit a team's exposure to one coach at a time. In the case of the Cowboys' coaching search, there were multiple candidates from the same team (such as 49er coaches Norv Turner and Mike Singletary). Hence the 49ers were even more exposed then the norm. Teams should be limited to consider one coach at a time per team. In other words the hiring team should have to discount one coach before moving onto another coach from that same team.

4. Provide compensation to the team that looses the coach from the hiring team. Players get traded all the time, players are lost via free agency just as regularly and in both cases teams are compensated for the transactions. The same should hold true in the coaching world. Losing an offensive coordinator or key assistant coach of another sort could have far greater effects on the team than the loss of a Pro Bowl player. Compensation is thus justified.

These rules would require teams approach coaching changes with greater diligence. That diligence would create equilibrium in the coaching market and make the game better. Teams will have to act on a more calculated basis when hiring a coach, and other teams will not be as badly penalized when they lose a great coach or any coach for that matter. Have we not all had enough of being held ransom every time a coaching position is opened?

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