The St. Louis Rams hired Jeff Fisher as their head coach last week; no firing date has been set yet.
Oh, and he will be fired.
As Fisher made his way back into the NFL Honcho Room, the Indianapolis Colts’ Jim Caldwell made his way out. If they bumped into each other, Caldwell might’ve reminded Fisher how uneasy lies the headset that wears a coaching crown.
In 2009, Caldwell went 14-2 in his first season as Colts coach. In 2011, Caldwell went 2-14. Bye-bye.
In fact, before the 2009 season, 11 new head coaches were hired and already nine have been fired – only the Jets’ Rex Ryan and the Lions’ Jim Schwartz remain.
It’s pretty simple:
When you get hired as a coach, you are signing up to get fired.
(Similarly – and I hate to state the obvious here, but, what the heck, it’s my job – when you get married, you are signing up to get, uh, unmarried. Note: I don’t use the “D” word anymore. Plus, this time around with Toni, a.k.a. She Is The One, it’s “till death do us part” – of course, in our case, she might end up killing me, but, hey, that’s technically still “till death do us part,” so I’ll take it.)
Sure, this NFL season the 49ers’ first-year coach Jim Harbaugh has been the flavor of the month, but you still don’t know if he’s going to be the next Joe Gibbs or the next Jim Haslett.
The late George Carlin used to say, “When you buy a pet, you know it’s going to end badly. You’ve just purchased a small tragedy.”
Coaches are essentially human pets.
The exception was Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 baseball seasons (1901-50), making him the longest tenured coach or manager in U.S. pro sports history.
The secret to Mack’s success? He owned the team. I mean, even a bankrupt Donald Trump wouldn’t fire himself.
Others have not been as lucky; everybody gets axed, some sooner than later.
In the NBA, the Sacramento Kings recently dismissed Paul Westphal after a 2-5 start. It tied for the second-fastest firing since the NBA-ABA merger – the Indiana Pacers fired Jack Ramsey in the 1988-89 season after a 0-7 start. The fastest firing? In 1977-78, the Philadelphia 76ers fired Gene Shue at 2-4 one season after he had led the team to the NBA Finals.
In the 2008-09 season, an NBA-record six of 30 coaches were fired before Christmas; of course, this was when the NBA actually played games before Christmas.
In Major League Baseball, only one man – the Angels’ Mike Scioscia – has managed the same team since before 2005. In 1988, the Baltimore Orioles fired Cal Ripken Sr., after a 0-6 start; in 2002, the Detroit Tigers fired Phil Garner after a 0-6 start.
In the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings’ Bill Gadsby won his first two games of the 1969-70 season – and was fired.
(Detroit’s a tough town.)
But no one in coaching annals has suffered the ignominy of Marty Schottenheimer, the star-crossed, sixth-winningest coach in NFL history.
With the Cleveland Browns – after no losing seasons and a 32-15 record his final three years – he was fired.
Then with the Kansas City Chiefs – where he had nine winning seasons out of 10 – he was fired.
Then with the Washington Redskins, he was fired after one season, in which he won eight of his last 11 games.
Then with the San Diego Chargers, he was fired after his fourth year, a 14-2 season.
(Look at those last two jobs again, with the Redskins and the Chargers: Schottenheimer was fired winning a combined 22 of his last 27 games.)
And now Schottenheimer has expressed interest in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head-coach opening. Really? He hasn’t had enough? I’m no shrink, but I figure the guy must like getting fired.
Ask The Slouch
Q. In keeping with the anomaly of Europeans and Asians dominating professional sports circuits, should we expect a PBA winner from the Ivy League? (John Swope; Irwin, Pa.)
A. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the pro bowlers tour bars Harvard grads and guys in J. Crew wear.
Q. Why would the St. Louis Rams agree to play a regular-season game in London in each of the next three seasons? (Dan Harper; Chicago)
A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke mentioned the importance of NFL growth in Britain, but I assume he just needs the frequent-flier miles.
Q. If Glen “Big Baby” Davis dropped his shorts at a poker table, what would you do? (Allen MacDonald; Cheney)
A. At that point, it wouldn’t matter what my cards were; I’d probably fold.
Q. Why doesn’t Uriah Heep get any airplay on classic rock radio stations? (Jeff Hazle; Woodbridge, Va.)
A. Was just wondering about that myself the other day while listening to Blue Oyster Cult.
Q. Did State Farm insure against a Green Bay one-and-done run in the NFL playoffs by taking out a policy with Allstate on its Discount Double Check ads? (Steve Casey; Ashburn, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.