Is it just me, or should honesty and loyalty be common characteristics of NFL head coaches? This is not to say, by any means, that Gandhi should coach the Cowboys, however the actions of two coaches over the past months have been nothing short of classless.
Former Dolphins head coach Nick Saban has been renamed “Nick Satan” by many South Floridians. This is after Saban obviously lied to everyone in a press conference. You see, Saban is now employed by the University of Alabama. The former Michigan State and LSU head coach has returned to the collegiate ranks to coach the Crimson Tide.
Ever since Alabama finished their regular season with a 6-6 record and fired head coach Mike Shula, Saban was rumored to be one of the university’s leading candidates for replacement. When Shula was fired, Saban was just weeks away from finishing his second consecutive sub-.500 season since he left LSU just a couple of years ago. Nobody doubted the fact that Saban might be interested in returning to the college sidelines, where he had experienced tremendous success that included the 2004 BCS National Championship at LSU. When coaches in Saban’s position, employed by one organization while looking into other opportunities, are asked about their interest in jobs elsewhere, they typically respond with something to the effect of, “My focus is with the [current team.] We’re trying to win football games right now.” This simple line puts a coach’s players and fan base at ease while leaving all the coach’s options open. Saban didn’t take this approach. When asked about the prospects of his moving to Tuscaloosa, Saban replied, “I’m not going to be the Alabama head coach.”
There would be no coaching search in the Dolphins organization. This is why it was so disgusting to see Saban flee the coop so quickly following the Dolphins final game. It is impossible for any lie to be more blatant that Saban’s – he said one thing and proceeded to do the complete opposite. Putting Saban’s occupation aside completely, his actions were inexcusable as a human being.
The Atlanta Falcons’ head man, Jim Mora, Jr., decided to do a radio interview with his former college roommate at a small radio station in Washington around the same time as the Saban soap opera. Before the interview was over, Mora had admitted that the head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of Washington, had always been his dream job. In addition, he said that he would leave the Falcons in a second if offered the chance to coach the Huskies.
Needless to say, this was big news in the Atlanta area. After discussing the interview with his boss and Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Mora held a news conference in which he claimed the whole idea was a joke and that he was happy in his current situation. It hardly appeared to be any kind of joke to viewers.
As much as Saban’s players must have been happy to hear his original devotion to the Dolphins, the Falcons players were clearly affected by their coach’s lack of loyalty. Mora’s Falcons were beaten by an Eagles team playing all second and third string players in the last week of the season. Days later Mora was relieved of his duties as head coach.
Aside from the fact that Mora would have to be crazy to prefer coaching the struggling Huskies over Mike Vick, he showed no loyalty to the franchise that gave him his first and only opportunity to be an NFL head coach.
Mora and Saban are just the latest in an NFL head coaching fraternity that has seen Bill Belichick coach the Jets for a day and then take a better offer from the Patriots and Jon Gruden ask for a trade from the Raiders to the Buccaneers.
As the organizational faces of their respective franchises, coaches simply need to be better people and show some class as very public figures. Saban and Mora proved how pathetic a person can look when being completely honest or completely dishonest in the wrong situations.
Waldman is a member of the class of 2010.