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Proposed Rule Change Allowing Active Coaches To Sign Elsewhere Seems Doomed To Die

While I’ve devoted a lot of time over the course of the past week or two discussing many of the rule changes that will help affect the upcoming season, I wanted to talk about one proposed change that did not pass, which was tabled indefinitely, which is often a death sentence.

Following a year in which New England Patriots offensive coordinator ended up spurning the Indianpolis Colts to become their head coach (the team even announced the agreement on Twitter prior to a deal actually being signed), a change was proposed that would allow coaches on active playoff teams to talk to other teams about coaching vacancies.

Under the current rule setup, a coach’s team’s season must have come to a conclusion before he is able to formally sign with other teams. While it is often ‘known’ in advance what teams are planning to do, such as the New York Giants targeting Pat Shurmer, McDaniels’ decision reminded us that a deal is never done until it’s actually signed.

Peter King is one person who doesn’t believe that the rule proposed will ever pass. In fact, he never really understood the rule in the first place. “It was bizarre to me”, he wrote, “that owners wanted to pass a rule that would allow teams to hire coaches before the end of coach’s season”, noting that Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said he was glad his coaching search played out as it did because he “wouldn’t have wanted a guy who wasn’t all in”.

While King acknowledged that neither situation is ideal, he said that “the current rule is better than a coach signing with a new team, then continuing to coach his team through the playoffs”. While the Super Bowl is always an attractive commodity, of course, somebody who knows he’s about to become a head coach could lose some motivation. After all, not many coordinators are known for winning championships. The honor goes to the head coach.

The author of the Monday Morning Quarterback column noted that 10 coaches spoke about the rule while it was being presented at the Annual League Meeting last month, and that nine of those coaches were speaking out against it, and keeping the rule as it currently is. Bill Belichick was among them.

A source quoted Belichick as expressing incredulity over the idea of selling to fans that one of their coaches currently on the team during a postseason run is going to become the head coach of another team. That makes it difficult to convince the fans that they’re “doing everything possible to win the biggest games of the year”.

Belichick also raised the point of being employed by two teams at the same time. “’If you’ve been hired by one team, you’re continuing to coach your original team, and you talk to some of the assistant coaches you work with about joining your staff—shouldn’t that be tampering?’”, he asked.

And this is why the rule will probably never pass. Frankly, I believe they ought to go further in the other direction and not even allow active coaches to schedule interviews with teams or have contact, period. The coaching search should begin when the season ends for the league, not for each team.

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