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And Another Thing


Opportunity or insult?

Frazier "interview" exposes Rooney Rule

Sometimes even the best of intentions can backfire on you. It's why the road to hell is paved with them.

Case in point: The NFL's Rooney Rule, which stipulates that for every head coaching position that comes up, the team looking to fill it must interview at least one minority candidate.

The intention, of course, was to promote minority coaching hires and enable qualified candidates -- and there are plenty out there -- to at least get a foot in what had previously been a locked door. The reality has been ... well, something different.

Hardly ever has that been demonstrated better than over the weekend, when the Seattle Seahawks tabbed USC coach Pete Carroll -- fleeing, apparently,from the impending hammer of the NCAA and the fact that other schools in the Pac-10 were starting to catch up to the Trojans -- as their new head coach. The deal was done. They'd made their choice.

But first, to satisfy the Rooney Rule, they had to interview a minority candidate. Enter Leslie Frazier, whom the Seahawks interviewed as an obvious and blatant formality.

The whole process, frankly, was an utter farce, not to say an enormous insult to Frazier, an eminently qualified candidate who didn't need the implied condescension. And it did absolutely nothing to promote the hiring of minority coaches.

Here's what I think: I think Frazier should have declined the interview. I think he should have said, "If and when you're ever serious about hiring me, come talk to me. Otherwise, don't waste my time. I'm not a charity case and I'm not here to help get you off the hook with the league. I refuse to be treated that way."

Wonder what would happen to the Rooney Rule if every minority candidate did that who was in Frazier's situation. Wonder what would happen if teams started looking around the league at all the qualified minority coaches there are -- from Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh to Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis to Mike Singletary in San Francisco -- and realize they might be better off pursuing them than some big-name college coach fleeing the NCAA heat to come back to the NFL, where he failed miserably before.

Ben Smith's blog.