Quarterback coaching summit held to help minorities land NFL jobs

Minority coaching hires since Rooney Rule was enacted in 2003

It’s common for seven to eight coaches to get fired after every season in the NFL.

But after last season, when five of the eight minority head coaches in the NFL were terminated, the term “Black Monday” took on a different meaning in some quarters.

After only one of eight of those positions went to a minority candidate, that was seen as a diversity setback around the league, which now has four minority coaches, of 32.

During that last hiring cycle, owners were looking for offensive minds and pointed to the lack of minorities coaching in the key positions on offense.

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, and Doug Williams and James “Shack” Harris of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, decided to shift the focus of their second coaching summit to minority offensive talent across the nation at hotel near the airport and at Morehouse College last week.

Over 50 coaches, college and pro executives from around the country attended the two-day event and a book was compiled for NFL teams with bios of the coaches that some contended did not exist.

“There are aspirations of being an offensive play-caller,” Vincent said. “There are some who are here that are actually offensive coordinators. We talked about how do I advance in developing a quarterback. What does that process look like in the hiring process.”

Some of the attendees included Georgia Southern wide receivers coach Lamar Owens, Prairie View A&M offensive coordinator Ted White, Alcorn State quarterback coach Pat White, Missouri offensive analyst Garrick McGee, Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, Florida quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and California tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo.

“There are some that are coordinators looking at going to the next level,” Vincent said. “More importantly over the past two years, we’ve been challenged with someone saying there is no talent, there is no pipeline. I’ve heard that.”

Vincent believes the summit will help to debunk that notion.

“That’s an excuse for not hiring (minorities),” Vincent said. “Where is the talent? Where is the pipeline? Who are they? They are here. They are all in one place.”

Vincent pointed to Clemson’s Elliott as high-profile college coach on the rise.

“Some of these men here have won national championships,” Vincent said. “They have developed some of the top quarterbacks in the country, but they are not spoken about.”

Williams, Washington’s senior vice president of player personnel, felt the summit was necessary.

Former NFL head coaches Marvin Lewis, Jim Caldwell and Hue Jackson are on a panel with former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. The panel at the Quarterback Coaching Summit was moderated by Steve Wyche of the NFL Network. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)
Former NFL head coaches Marvin Lewis, Jim Caldwell and Hue Jackson are on a panel with former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. The panel at the Quarterback Coaching Summit was moderated by Steve Wyche of the NFL Network. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

“What we are doing now is trying to show that it is not about supply, as much it is about demand,” Williams said. “If you demand one, we have the supply for you. This is what the summit is all about. They are out there if given the opportunity to come in and coach.”

The coaches exchanged some general scheme and detailed information on NFL offensive trends.

“You have a lot of coaches here who run the RPOs (read-pass options),” Williams said. “That seems like to be the thing now going into the National Football League is to have that weapon, and the RPOs to get the defense (off) balance.”

There also was some old-school coaching information.

“You also have the guys who can coach traditional football,” Williams said. “It is football, you just throw some wrinkles in there. The most important thing is to let them know that we’ve got guys. All they need is an opportunity to get a chance to coach in the National Football League.”

The summit was designed to share information and philosophies with the goal of accelerating the attendees long-term goals and coaching aspirations.

“Filling a gap for us at least at the National Football League level,” Vincent said.

The session opened with a panel of current and former general managers discussing the hiring process.

Former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman, former New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese, Miami general manager Chris Grier and former Eagles and Redskins personnel executive Dick Daniels, who’s now an NFL consultant, comprised the panel.

Former NFL head coaches Jim Caldwell, Marvin Lewis and Hue Jackson and former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer were on the coaching panel.

NFL teams went with some reaches on offensive coaches in the last hiring cycle as Arizona hired Kliff Kingsbury, who had a losing record (35-40) as a college coach. Also, Green Bay’s hiring of former Falcons quarterback coach Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s hiring of Zac Taylor, raised some eyebrows.

Both had no or very little NFL play-calling experience. Taylor was a position coach.

“Getting into the pipeline of quality control, quarterback coaches and then to coordinator, that seems to be the wave of (coaches) entering the NFL and to have some upward mobility,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell has a 62-50 record as a NFL head coach and guided the Colts to Super Bowl XLVII.

Fox analyst Urban Meyer was a panelist at the Quarterback Coaching Summit held in Atlanta  on June 24 and 25 , 2019. NFL Network's Steve Wyche, on the right, was the moderator. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)
Fox analyst Urban Meyer was a panelist at the Quarterback Coaching Summit held in Atlanta on June 24 and 25 , 2019. NFL Network's Steve Wyche, on the right, was the moderator. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

“I think college has a great pool and a lot of them were unknown,” said Caldwell, who presented on the hiring process and video resumes at the Morehouse session. “That’s another good thing about this particular conference is to have an opportunity to bring some of those guys in an acquaint them people within the NFL, general manager, head coaches and ex-head coaches that know the role and how to enter the NFL. It’s important to indoctrinate them as well.”

Meyer, who’s an analyst for Fox Sports after stepping down at Ohio State, discussed coaching harmony and how the young coaches need to improve on their weaknesses.

Meyer discussed how early in his career he didn’t like to talk in front of people, so he started reading more at church in front of the congregation with the goal of becoming a better public speaker.

“I had someone tell me that the college and NFL games have never been closer,” Meyer said. “Years ago, they were farther apart. I’ve watched a lot of NFL games, and it’s the same offenses.

“You don’t run the quarterback as much, but even in college they are not running as much. They are making double-option reads where they can throw it or run it.”

For the past 12 years, the NFL’s hiring process has been monitored by the Fritz Pollard Alliance.

“We believe that everybody who has worked their way to a level of expertise deserves an opportunity to advance,” said Rod Graves, Fritz Pollard Alliance’s new executive director. “That’s the mission of Fritz Pollard is to try to continue to see that the doors are opened for our minority candidates and to make sure that the processes are fair and equitable.”

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