Skip to main content

Tony Dungy explains the unintended benefit of the Rooney Rule

The Los Angeles Rams have a coaching opening, and in accordance with NFL law the Los Angeles Times reached out to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy for his thoughts on NFL openings.

He explained an unintended consequence of the Rooney Rule -- the NFL rule requiring franchises interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operations jobs -- that benefits every team regardless of who they hire:

That’s one of the reasons the Rooney Rule is good. To me, the goal wasn’t to get more minority coaches hired. It was to make people slow down and hire the right person for them. If that happens, then it’s successful.

The spirit of the rule is really good. But what people have done more recently is, rather than figuring out what they’re looking for and drawing up some parameters and saying, “OK, let me look for some minority coaches who fit these parameters. Let’s discuss it and hire the right person,” people are saying, “Let me just interview a minority candidate and then get down to the business of hiring who I feel like I should hire.”

Rushing the process is where mistakes are made. I understand why that is. Your franchise hasn’t been winning recently, and you’re getting a lot of negative publicity.

There is a great deal of pressure to get who is deemed the hot candidate, or the No. 1 guy on certain people’s radar, whether it’s the best coach for you or not.

To me, rushing the process is very short-sighted and not very smart. You shouldn’t want to have to get the jump on people. You should say, “Let me investigate. Let me figure out what I’m looking for.” And go about getting that guy.

To add to his statement, any team waiting until it fires its outgoing coach to vet new candidates is already behind. To paraphrase John Wooden: it's possible to conduct a quick search without hurrying.

While we're on the subject of the Rooney Rule: there are four black head coaches among the 30 full-time NFL head coaches. There are 13 black FBS head coaches among 128 filled positions. Incidentally, only one state requires its college football programs comply by their own Rooney Rule -- Oregon -- and the Ducks just hired Willie Taggart.

Read the full interview here.