The search for a new head coach is a dizzying array of rules and fast-paced decision making. And it's made even more head spinning with an impressive array of reports, whispers and innuendos that flood the digital world every minute on who is hiring who.
Welcome to the NFL's Coaching Carousel. Jump on board while the seats are available. Six teams, including the Eagles, are searching for a new head coach. And each team must heed league's rules for when candidates are able to be interviewed, where the talks can occur and how many times a team can contact a prospect.
Here is the way it works in the NFL, with some extremely specific rules in place:
- Any coach whose team has been eliminated from the postseason is eligible to be interviewed for a head coaching job. Teams ask that coach's current team for permission to speak to the coach, a request that is generally granted for a head coaching position. The job must be a promotion, however. The Eagles, for example, couldn't call Dallas and ask for permission to interview Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett for the head coach job here. Anyone else is fair game.
- Coaches who are on teams that are in the postseason and whose teams have a bye week – those teams are Carolina, Arizona, Denver and New England – are eligible to be interviewed this week.
- For assistant coaches of clubs that participate in a Wild Card game and advance to the Divisional Playoffs, interviews must be conducted after the Wild Card games and prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games. An inquiring club is permitted only one interview with an assistant coach while his team is competing in the postseason, and there shall be no other direct or indirect contact between any employee or agent of the inquiring club and the assistant coach or any representative or agent of the assistant coach. No initial interviews may be requested nor granted after the Divisional Playoff weekend for any assistant coach whose team is still participating in the postseason. However, in any year in which there is at least a two-week break between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, an assistant coach who (i) has previously interviewed for another club's head coaching job and (ii) whose current employer-club is participating in the Super Bowl may have a second interview with a club with which he has previously interviewed for an open head coach position provided that (i) the current employer-club elects to grant permission for a second interview, and (ii) the interview will take place at a time and location that is acceptable for the current employer-club, but no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.
- Every team must interview at least one minority before hiring a head coach to comply with the league's Rooney Rule, which states "The Rooney Rule requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is sometimes cited as an example of affirmative action, though there is no quota or preference given to minorities in the hiring of candidates. It was established in 2003."
- No contract shall be executed, and no agreement to execute a contract, or an announcement of a contract or of an agreement for employment, shall be permitted until after the conclusion of the employer club's playing season.
The Eagles have committed to being as transparent as they can with the process to their fans. So far, they confirmed interviews with running backs coach Duce Staley, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Yet, that transparency hasn't stopped reports on Twitter from claims of multiple interviews. Agents are hard at work creating a market for their clients and on and on it goes.
From a spectator's standpoint, it's a whirlwind. The Eagles are one of a half-dozen teams in the league lining up candidates and cross-checking their lists and performing their due diligence to narrow their focus to just the right candidate for their team. But teams are often competing with the other to attract the same candidate forcing a hiring decision into a one day interview.
Here's hoping the Eagles will hire the man who will lead them for the next decade or more. The postseason is the goal, the Super Bowl is the only prize that matters to all of us.