The Fritz Pollard Alliance announced it will initiate an inquiry with the NFL on if the Colts went through the proper process when they hired Jeff Saturday as interim head coach.
“In light of the recent interim head coaching hire in Indianapolis, the FPA has initiated an inquiry with the NFL into whether this hiring process conformed with NFL Hiring Guidelines for naming an interim Head Coach,” the Fritz Pollard Alliance — the diversity group that works with the NFL on its minority hiring — said in a statement, per NFL Media insider Tom Pelissero.
Saturday was shockingly hired by Indianapolis last Monday after it fired head coach Frank Reich. Saturday proved owner Jim Irsay right in his debut with a victory over Josh McDaniels’ Las Vegas Raiders.
The NFL has the Rooney Rule, a policy where teams must interview an ethnic-minority candidate for a head coach or senior football operations job. However, there appears to be debate on if the policy must be followed on interim head coach hires.
FPA executive director Rod Graves told Pelissero on the “Rich Eisen Show” last Thursday the Rooney Rule should apply to interim head coaches, but the NFL said it does not. The FPA’s statement made Thursday likely seeks to change that stance.
The Colts were lambasted for the Saturday hire, with many analysts and pundits noting there were many more qualified candidates — the retired offensive lineman and former ESPN analyst had not been a head coach beyond the high school level prior to his hire.
Some people pointed to wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne as a viable candidate. The former Colts wideout was asked Thursday if he would have taken the job if asked last week.
“(Expletive) yeah! Why wouldn’t I?” Wayne said, per The Athletic’s Zak Keefer.
That sentiment is why many are pointing the blame toward Irsay rather than Saturday — the former is the key decision-maker and the latter was in a position where anyone would say yes to the offer. The Colts owner appears to be very fond of his interim head coach. Reich reportedly was forced to start the inexperienced Sam Ehlinger, whose performance against the New England Patriots likely was the last straw for Irsay. But Saturday was able to start Matt Ryan against the Raiders last Sunday.
There is belief around the NFL the second half of the season is Saturday’s tryout to eventually be named head coach of the Colts, which is probably why the FPA wants change in the hiring process to allow minority candidates the chance at such opportunities.
In the meantime, Indianapolis moves on to Week 11 to face the Philadelphia Eagles, where Saturday will hope to move to 2-0 as a head coach.
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