Ron Rivera will continue to coach the Carolina Panthers. Although he started poorly both seasons with Carolina, and lost lots of games, he never lost his players.
Early this season, he coached as if the Panthers had something special and he was afraid a coaching error could ruin it. But by December he was the leader players required. Everybody I know in the organization, in the locker room and in the offices, cutting grass and selling tickets, respects him.
Jerry Richardson, who owns the Panthers, met with Rivera Saturday. Richardson made the call to retain him. Although the decision was sound, the wrong man made it.
Richardson could have a new general manager within the week. That general manager, after soliciting input from Richardson, should have been granted the authority to determine Rivera’s future.
Richardson, 76, obviously knows Rivera better than any general manager will. But the owner-as-general manager model doesn’t work. The most successful owners hire football people and gracefully slide out of the way.
Clark Hunt, the chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs, hired Andy Reid this week as head coach. The Chiefs don’t have a GM at the moment. Hunt made the hire. How would you describe the Kansas City organization in three words? Not too good.
Jerry Jones is owner, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have won one playoff game since 1996. They last appeared in the playoffs in 2009, one season after the Panthers last appeared.
Rivera had to wait six days after his team beat New Orleans to learn he still had a job. To make Rivera dangle between employment and unemployment for an additional week would have been less than gracious. But every job presents challenges. Rivera could have handled his.
There was one tremendous upside to Saturday’s developments. When Richardson retained Rivera he stopped the rumors.
Whenever there’s a void people fill it with gossip, rumors and innuendo.
A Big East coach was said to be in Charlotte Friday night staying at a luxury hotel downtown.
Except that nobody in the hotel was registered under the coach’s name. And if I were looking for a Big East coach, I’d start at Motel 6.
Of course Bill Cowher’s name was invoked. It’s a rule. Good old St. Bill was said to be a candidate. For what? For whatever he wants.
Mike Dunlap, who coaches the Charlotte Bobcats, could be too much of a micro-manager to succeed in the NBA. If so, why not hire Cowher to coach the Bobcats and the Panthers? How many years would it be before both teams go undefeated?
I’ll have you know, Bill Cowher, that the Panthers went undefeated their last four games. But they finished 7-9. That’s not a good season.
Numbers don’t lie. Carolina has been a testament to mediocrity. The organization needs new ideas, new perspectives and a new philosophy. The Panthers don’t have to surrender their values. They have to adjust them. They have to be honest. They have to acknowledge that their way hasn’t worked.
Can Richardson hire a credible GM and say: “You’ll have control of the football operation except when I say you won’t?”
Can he say: “You run the football end of things except when we disagree?”
Can he say: “Bring in your people except when they conflict with mine?
I know that a head coach once told Richardson he wanted to replace a few non-football employees with friends of his. Richardson rightly said no, you won’t do that.
Head coach is different. There are several paths to respectability. The coach and the GM have to agree on one.
And if the owner goes along with them, that’s fine, too.