Colts will have trouble attracting big-name coach

January 19, 2012
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NFL head coaching jobs are difficult to come by. There are only 32 teams and at least a hundred times that many people who would like to try try their hand at leading a team as head coach.

So the Indianapolis Colts will have little problem finding people, some with decent resumes, willing to take the head coaching job. If the Oakland Raiders over the years have been able to lure so many willing to try coaching that mess, the Colts should have no problem finding people to sit down for an interview.

That aside, the biggest fish aren’t likely to consider the Colts the best place to work right now. I’d be surprised if the Colts can attract someone with significant head coaching experience, certainly not at the NFL level.

This is why.

It’s unclear what type of owner Jim Irsay will be without Bill Polian, and no one has any idea how capable the team’s new general manager, Ryan Grigson, 39, is going to be. It’s difficult to predict Grigson’s leadership style or what type of field general might be a good fit with him.

So even if John Gruden, Bill Cowher or even University of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz were interested in jumping into NFL head coaching, they’d likely steer clear of such unknowns.

One carrot to dangle is the opportunity to coach Andrew Luck—or whoever is going to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Still, the likes of Gruden and Cowher could take virtually any open NFL head coaching job they wanted. So they’re not going to jump on a ship which doesn’t know which way its rudder is turned.

So Grigson and Irsay are faced with one of the most difficult tasks for any business: searching for hidden talent and unseen potential.

The Colts’ new dynamic duo is going to have to mine for promising lumps of coal and hope that in the pressure-cooking position of NFL head coach they turn into a diamond.

  • A better job than that
    Disagree. Irsay has proven himself to be a good owner who listens to his GM and his coach. Grigson is new to this level, so a big-name coach could expect to have a greater voice than Caldwell apparently had. Also, the opportunity to coach Manning or Luck, or both, is very attractive.
  • don't totally disagree
    Homer, I don't totally disagree with you. I do think Jim Irsay has proven he's an owner who is serious about winning and is willing to pay to get it done. I also think JI has earned a reputation as an owner who listens to his players and coaches (to an extent). I think the bigger question is Grigson, and how Grigson and Irsay will work together.
  • Consider Peyton
    I think Manning's been unofficially coaching the team for years. His future as a player is limited at best and can you imagine the fan swell if he were head coach and Luck was the QB?
  • Great Opportunity
    A prospective head coach would jump on the opportunity to coach Manning and have Luck in the wings for the future. Jeff Fisher just took the St. Louis job and that team will have no chance of competing for the playoffs anytime soon. Oakland is a bigger unknown than Indy with the recent death of Al Davis and Jacksonville has go to be the least desirable place to coach in years. There are only 32 total coaching spots so Indy should get somebody that is well qualified.
  • $$$$$
    You're missing the single most important component determining which coaches will be attracted to the job. How much is Irsay willing to pay? You're naive to think he couldn't get almost anyone available if he is willing to break the bank and pay something like eight million dollars or more a year. Does he want to or does he need to do that? Probably not. Honestly, I'm not that impressed with most of the former coaches not currently attached to a team. I'm completely fine with identifying a rising star and going that direction vs. hiring someone that wasn't really that impressive before. Sure, there are a few exceptions but not that many. Regardless, you've got to understand that money talks in every profession. I'm amazed that you totally disregarded that in your column. If the job isn't as attractive it simply means you may have to pay more to get a big name but plenty of big names will still want it if Irsay is willing to pony up big enough dollars.
  • more on $$$$$
    IndyTodd, You have to consider the group of companies and company/team owners Jim Irsay is competing against for top coaching talent. They all have extremely deep pockets and they won't easily be outbid. The salary of an NFL head coach is a lot like the price of a gallon of gas. When one station/team owner raises the price/ante, the rest follow very quickly. Any NFL owner is going to have at least the depth of resources as Irsay to counter any offer he might make. So again, if all things are equal, I think you see a big-name coach chose a more stable environment than the Colts are perceived to be right now.
  • Irsay can afford it if he wants to
    You are making Irsay sound like he's the poorest guy on the block as far as NFL owners go. That isn't exactly true. A 2010 ranking of owners wealth had Irsay listed as the 7th wealthiest owner in the NFL. This was based on the 2010 list of the world's richest people. Regardless, of whether he is the 7th richest owner or 25th richest owner though he has demonstrated in the past that he will spend money when he feels it is worth it. This isn't necessarily true for all professional sports team owners no matter what their wealth is. I don't disagree that certain jobs that aren't as attractive at a moment in time might require a higher premium to land the coach you want vs. a more attractive job. The bottom line though is if it really mattered to Irsay to land one of the handful of big name coaches out there he could accomplish it. I don't think it does really matter that much to him and really don't think most of them are worth the money they would want. If they don't pay Manning the $28MM there is plenty of money free for another purpose if they so desire.

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