This Coaching Move Seems to Have Stunned the League

Colts pick Jeff Saturday, who has no head coach experience in NFL or college
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2022 11:15 AM CST
This Coaching Move Seems to Have Stunned the League
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich is no longer with the team.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

That the struggling Indianapolis Colts fired head coach Frank Reich after a bad loss on Sunday isn't a huge surprise. The same can't be said for the subsequent move by owner Jim Irsay—he picked former Colts player Jeff Saturday as Reich's interim replacement. The moved "shocked the NFL world," writes Kendall Baker at Axios. "Bewildered" is the word used to sum up reaction from other NFL execs in a story at the Athletic. Why? Because Saturday's only head coaching experience came a few years ago at Hebron Christian Academy in Georgia, which, yes, is a high school team. It is unprecedented for an NFL team to name a head coach with zero pro or college experience in that role.

“It’s hard to fathom what is going on there,” an anonymous executive at a rival team tells Jeff Howe of the Athletic. In fairness, Saturday said he was "shocked" as well. The 47-year-old was an All-Pro center for the Colts for years—he has strong ties with Irsay—and more recently has been working as an ESPN analyst. In a news conference Monday, Irsay defended his pick, saying he was glad Saturday doesn't have NFL head coach experience. "I'm glad he hasn't learned the fear that's in this league, because it's tough for all our coaches," said the owner. "They're afraid. They go to analytics and it gets difficult. He doesn't have all that."

When NFL teams hire a permanent coach, they must abide by what's known as the Rooney Rule, which requires them to interview at least two minority candidates. However, that doesn't apply in this case because Saturday is an interim hire, per the Indy Star. Irsay made clear he hopes Saturday sticks around longer than this season, but the Colts would have to interview other candidates at the end of the season for that happen. At Yahoo Sports, Mike Freeman writes the move is still an insult to prospective Black coaches. "There is no Black NFL equivalent of a Jeff Saturday," he writes. "Black ex-players with zero coaching experience can't just walk off the street and get head coaching jobs, and this is what makes this situation so angering, frustrating and embarrassing." (Read more NFL stories.)

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