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Old 02-11-2003, 03:37 PM   #1
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Default Erickson in with Niners

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49ers' search for coach ends with Erickson hiring


The San Francisco 49ers' drawn-out search for a head coach ended Tuesday with the hiring of Oregon State's Dennis Erickson, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports.

Team officials said Monday that a decision on a hire would be made by week's end. The stunner is that Erickson, who coached the Seattle Seahawks from 1995-98, wasn't among the three most-talked-about candidates -- defensive coordinators Jim Mora Jr. of San Francisco, Ted Cottrell of the New York Jets and Greg Blache of the Chicago Bears -- vying to succeed Steve Mariucci.

Cottrell, Mora Jr. and Blache had second interviews last week.

Since leaving the Seahawks, the 55-year-old Erickson went 31-17 at Oregon State with a 1-2 bowl record. He was 31-33 as Seahawks head coach, the same record his successor, Mike Holmgren, has compiled.

Before joining the Seahawks, Erickson won a national title at the University of Miami, going 63-9 with a 3-3 bowl record in six seasons.

There had been rumors that 49ers general manager Terry Donahue was reaching out to potential college candidates, among them Washington coach Rick Neuheisel. But Neuheisel issued a statement Monday saying he wasn't interested in another job.

ESPN.com learned that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who led his team to an Orange Bowl berth last season, last week declined an invitation to interview for the 49ers job. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, according to reports, also rebuffed the 49ers' overtures.

San Francisco fired Mariucci on Jan. 15 after going 59-42 and making the playoffs four times in his six seasons.
See, this is what's wrong with the NFL Minority Hiring Regulations. They're all wrong. I wasn't absolutely sure of it until now.

The Niners drag Blache and Cottrell around as if there's the real possibility of the Niners hiring a minority, when all the while, Donohue's waiting for Signing Day so he can grab the first college coach that says yes.

Worse, this guy's a retread, and a bad one at that. A fair college coach, Erickson proved nothing in his first run as a pro coach, except that he was as despicable in Seattle as he was in Miami.

Worse again, the Niners drag around 3 defensive coordinators as if they were going to take a philosophical shift from Mooch's west coast offense to a more defensive (and in general, tougher) mode of play. Then they go and get a spread offense guy whose offense didn't work the last time he was in the league (granted, talent was lacking, but I'm ignoring arguments of substance).

This is a bad hire, and spells doom for the NFL Minority Hiring Guidelines. More to the point, it spells doom for the San Francisco 49ers.

On the NFL Minority Hiring Guidelines for one more second:
What's the point of having guidelines that have no enforcement provisions?
Which is better to do: reward teams who work to break down the racial barriers, or punish teams that don't?
How necessary are the guidelines? As more and more minority former players and minority collegiate coaches make their fortunes as assistants, doesn't it make sense that more and more of them would find themselves in the position to be head coaching candidates?
In light of the above comment, don't guidelines regarding minority hiring in positions of power throughout the league require a time limit or some point to be reached when the guidelines are no longer necessary, and would be thrown out, with the threat of returning given some amount of inexplicable backsliding?

I'm making too damned much sense.

I'm not really opposed to the guidelines, but I think this hiring proves how incredibly useless they are in their current state. While I think Johnny Cochran and Jesse Jackson are full of it in the instance of Detroit, I think I will stand behind any declaration of awfulness and out-and-out deception that this hiring reveals.

Not that I had a lot of respect for the Niners after their inexplicable firing of Mooch, but I now feel openly compelled to root against them, something I've never done in my life. That'll be aided by my general disdain for Erickson.


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Old 02-11-2003, 06:00 PM   #2
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well this is what you get with the 49ers. the niners think they are on top of the world in football. they think they deserve to win every Super Bowl. i think Donahue and Walsh are both asses for waht they've done. they drug around some minority candidates and some other guys so they could get Dennis Erickson.

in the first place i wouldn't have fired Mooch. the team made the friggin' play offs 2 years in a row and was improving steadily. Well they threw that to the curb. i would take Cottrell any day over Erickson. he sucked with Seattle. He did win a BCS Bowl at Oregon State but really- was Erickson the best man out their? no.

What the niners did was much worse than Detroit or Dallas did. everyone knew Parcells was going to Dallas and Mooch to Detroit. so they didn't "pretend" to be interested at least they were honest and basically said "we know who we want". what SF did was drag a couple guys around and then send them packing. the NFL needs to ditch the minority candidate thing because it does nothing. if a team wants to hire a black coach they will. giving them an interview means nothing except a meaningless interview
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Old 02-11-2003, 08:59 PM   #3
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Don't ask me what happened with the hiring of Dennis Erickson. I have no clue. *shrugs* I wonder if Marvin Lewis wishes he coulda stayed around a lil' longer.

Anyways, I don't believe that there is anything wrong with the minority hiring rule. That's like saying that every team in the NFL has to look at a foreign QB before signing a new QB. It makes no sense to me. Everytime a black coach gets passed by, whether he's right for the job or not, someone is always going to say that it was because he was a minority. I'm not trying to tread any racial issues here, because that is a completely different conversation. Dennis Green is a good coach, but in the final years in Minnesota, he failed to gain control of his team. He had an explosive Vikings team a few years ago, and they lost in the Championship game versus Atlanta. Lately, he hasn't had a good track record. Maybe he needed a couple of years to clear his head, maybe not. The point is, he might not be worth the risk.

Ted Cottrell deserves a chance somewhere. Anywhere. I think Cottrell would've been a good choice for SF who already has a solid offense. Their youthful defense needs guidance and the banged up secondary needs a lot of help. I really love Julian Peterson (if only he was a Cowboy)...he's a versatile linebacker who I believe is capable of doing it all after getting a few more games under his wing. Cottrell could've helped out a lot on this team.

I don't believe SF really knew what they wanted, so race wasn't the issue. I think they were getting worried and panicked. They made what seems to be a bad choice in Erickson. But this is the thing that makes the NFL so special.....you never know.
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Old 02-11-2003, 09:48 PM   #4
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As Jeff Garcia has said, this entire process has been an embarrassment. I'm surprised they couldn't do better than this, considering the high-profile job. Erickson reminds me of Rich Brooks, who was hired as Kentucky's coach. Both are older and have near .500 records for their careers, including subpar NFL tenures, so I don't see what teams see in them. Erickson will do worse than Mooch!
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Old 02-11-2003, 09:54 PM   #5
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I disagree, Cowboy, that SF didn't really know what they wanted. In fact, I think because they knew they were waiting for Signing Day, they merely abided by the NFL Minority Token Interviewing Guidelines to avoid any flack from the NFL and to make it appear that they were actually doing something while really doing nothing, avoiding flack from the fandom.

Look at who they talked to from the pro assistant ranks: Romeo Crennel (African-American), DC New England; Greg Blache (African-American), DC Chicago; Ted Cottrell (African-American), DC New York Jets (maybe former; the Jets havent' signed him for next year yet); Jim Mora Jr. (White), DC San Francisco. These guys give the appearance of management's desire to have a tougher, defense-minded head coach.

Does that make sense? Maybe from a football point of view, but what have Niners fans complained about in the last couple years of Mooch-ville? TOO CONSERVATIVE. These guys above aren't likely to change the offense all that much. The fans sense it, but are willing to overlook it to get a black coach.

SF knocks Crennel out of the running and wastes another week giving 2nd interviews to the remainders, 2 blacks and a white.
Signing Day happens.

Almost immediately, reports have Bob Stoops (white) HC Oklahoma refusing to talk to SF. This comes as no surprise, either that they wanted to talk to him, nor that he refused. He's a big name, despite being a defensive coach, that fans would happily applaud.

Kirk Ferentz (white), HC Iowa, reportedly refuses the job outright. Note that in the stories ESPN is posting right now that his name is being omitted, from what I can tell. Ferentz is an offensive guy, but not a flashy offensive guy. After a wonderful season with Iowa, his name would bring some approval, albeit also some questions about who he is.

Rick Neuheisel (white), HC Washington was a rumored name who appeared never to get an interview. Still, the name floated out there. Big offense guy. Very flashy. Controversial in some circles. Lots of fanfare would follow this one.

Dennis Erickson (white), HC Oregon State, gets the job. Reportedly, just beating out Ted Cottrell. Reportedly, because his offensive philosophy better fits management's offensive philosophy. Reportedly. My stomach just did a flip. What hooey. This won't be a giant hire with the fans, but bigger than a no-name DCs from around the league. Especially when they're reminded that about ten years ago he was winning games at University of Miami, and was faring well at Oregon State. Either way, this guy's a better fanfare hire than any of the other guys they were talking to.

This hire was a manipulation of the guidelines that the NFL established in December. In fact, the guidelines gave the Niners the opportunity to make some political correctness points while really they were waiting for Signing Day.

This hire is an abomination. At least Millen, while a complete dolt, had the balls to admit that he only wanted one guy to other prospective candidates. The Niners "braintrust" lied to everyone from the word go. They fired Mariucci on the pretense of "management philosophy," when reality was that he was fired for offensive philosophical debates and growing fan disdain. They lied to Cottrell, Blache, Mora Jr, and the public by suggesting they were serious about these three.

Let Erickson destroy this franchise now, because that's what John York deserves. Seattle was a disaster when Erickson took over, and maybe even worse when he left. Here's to hoping that he destroys York's franchise, too.

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Old 02-12-2003, 02:10 AM   #6
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Take a deep breath.....or 5, Dave.

Erickson was a "fair" college coach, in your estimation???

Uhh.....2 National Championships.

Jeez boss, guess 4 or 5 National Championships would have nudged him to.....uhh.....to the "pretty good" level.

Seattle was a disaster when Erickson took over, and maybe even worse when he left, you say?????

Erickson went 31-33 in Seattle.

What is the definition of DISASTER???

Playing .500 ball is not part of that definition, IMO.

Folks may have been taking pot-shots at Buffalo back when they hired Marv Levy. Four straight years as the cream of the AFC crop and Marv's "blah" tenure in KC prior to taking the Buffalo gig is all but forgotten.

Bill Belichick???

He sucked donkey in his first NFL go-round in Cleveland. Heads off to NE and....uhh.....the rest is history.

Just a couple (among MANY) of examples for y'all to consider before you start taking shots at a guy and a team that have yet to show that this is INDEED a bad hire.

Carry on..........

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Old 02-12-2003, 01:20 PM   #7
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I agree with Poptart, how can you judge this as a bad hire until he actually fails at the helm of the 49ers? This was obviously an unexpected hire, but I would not call this hire a bad one.

I really disagree with this Minority hiring regulations bullcrap. Owners and teams should be able to hire whoever they want and for whatever reasons they want to hire them. There is only 1 white cornerback in the league, so does the league want to make a push for more white corners......should the league put out drafting regulations to teams to draft more white cornerbacks? You can call that a terrible analogy, but it is right on with what the NFL has done.

On another note, the 49ers were really a sorry organization if they had no intentions to hire any of the black coaches they interviewed. The 49ers need to try to stop being politically correct and try being bold and to the point. The 49ers should have just came out and said we fired Mooch cause he wanted more control than what our power hungry controlling selves wanted to give him. They also should have just hired who they wanted, instead of playing the teacher's pet role of following all the correct procedures and regulations the NFL had set out for them. To me, the 49ers look like an organization who wants to make themselves look better by doing the right thing, but yet they don't really want to do the right thing...and in this case they didn't follow up with doing the right thing according to the new regulations set by the NFL.

NFL, please get rid of this crazy minority hiring regulation policy you have, because this is getting way out of hand.

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Old 02-12-2003, 02:23 PM   #8
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Joey, I'm going to take you up on your offer. The white cornerbacks thing is a terrible analogy.

What exactly is the pressing need to get rid of a policy that doesn't seem to have had any effect so far?

There is a clear lack of African Americans in head coaching positions in the NFL. At this point, there really is no explanation other than that some owners out there are racists. The league's new policies won't force anyone to hire a minority candidate, but they are calling attention to the owners who aren't giving blacks a fair shake.

So it isn't perfect; no system is. It doesn't do any harm that I can see. Do you have a better idea for how to correct the problem?

And in Dave's defense, I'm guessing he remembers failed re-treads like Rich Kotite, Joe Bugel, and every Bengals coach in the last decade. I think we all agree that Erickson is a weird choice. Not necessarily a bad one, but it seems like we all smell something rotten here.
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Old 02-12-2003, 02:45 PM   #9
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Do we really have a problem here, or has ESPN and other media outlets made this a bigger problem than it really is? I will take the latter on that one.

Should teams not be able to hire who they want? Should they not be able to do what they want with their money? The answer to both of those questions would be yes.

Your right about not getting rid of a policy that hasn't worked yet, but why even have it? I understand that there are qualified men who are getting overlooked by owners, teams, and organizations....and are taking 2nd chairs to those that have already failed in the NFL so to say. Now is that fair....no, but does each team, owner, and organization have the right do such things...yes.

This policy is basically tying up what each team does to obtain a head coach for their team. If they don't take the right steps by this new policy for hiring coaches they are blasted. When really the only time they should get blasted is when the coach they hire does a poor job coaching....not when they didn't pick the minority coach.

This was more than a right field hiring, but the 49ers had every right to do so.

I was wrong for making the analogy of white corners, for players and coaches are 2 different situations all together....but this new policy and big stink over who teams have to interview and hire now to be politically correct is total junk.

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Old 02-12-2003, 05:44 PM   #10
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Joey, I do agree on one thing. The Cowboys and Lions, who knew who they wanted before the previous coaches were fired, shouldn't have to fake interviews with people they aren't interested in. Bill Parcells and Steve Mariucci have impeccable coaching credentials and no team can be blamed for ignoring other candidates if it can land those guys. So yeah, politically correct processes are silly in that case.

For a team like the Jaguars or 49ers, though, you've got a completely different situation. It seems like the 49ers have already aroused some animosity -- from Dave, for instance -- because they initially appeared to be conducting a good-faith search for a candidate, including several minorities. Then they hired Erickson. Does that mean John York -- or anyone else in the organization, for that matter -- is racist? No. Is it weird? Yeah. Does it leave a bad taste in our mouths? It seems like almost everyone agrees on that.

The lack of African Americans in prominent coaching and executive positions in the NFL is a disgrace, and it IS a problem. More black coaches wouldn't come near Jackie Robinson joining mlb, but it would have effects that go beyond football. Even if it didn't, the current situation isn't fair, and it isn't right. I think it's great that the league is trying to do something about it. The rules need to be tweaked, not eliminated.
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Old 02-12-2003, 08:21 PM   #11
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the only reason why Dennis Erickson won two national titles was because of Jimmy Johnson. Dennis is a subpar coach to say the least and becuase of him we had a terrible mid 90's
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Old 02-12-2003, 11:35 PM   #12
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The first time TO drops the ball at the 2 yard line and walks in for a TD is when you know Erickson will have arrived.

I don't think the Erickson hire is that bad at all. 31-33 is well in Seattle, what's Holmgren doing? He did well at Oregon State. The Niners would have been better the past two seasons had they thrown the ball down the field, Erickson will do that.

As for the black coaches. Let it happen more naturally, don't make a joke of things. Also let the NFL push guys like Bobby Mitchell up to the GM level. That's as big of an issue.
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Old 02-13-2003, 12:06 AM   #13
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The Jags hired Jack Del Rio, he is hispanic, should that not count as a minority hiring?

I tend to agree with Joey on this matter. If Johnny Cochran or Jesse jackson want more black coaches, then maybe they should each buy a franchise and hire who they want to run THERE team.

I always have believed what is yours, is yours and you do with it what you want. If I own a store, I want to hire who I want, to work it. Its there teams, they are the ones who are putting the most upfront.......there money. They should be allowed to have whoever they want to run there ship.

Its not a popular opinion I know, but it is how I feel. I dont want someone telling me who I have to hire, to run what I own.
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Old 02-13-2003, 04:15 AM   #14
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Two facts stand out here.

The first is a kind of poetic justice, for in a very real sense Dennis Erickson was the "poster boy" for reinstating instant replay, if you remember the call in a 1998 game between the Seahawks (then coached by Erickson) and the Jets where the officials ruled that Vinny Testaverde had "crossed the plane" on a game-winning TD when the replay seemed to clearly show that he hadn't; had instant replay existed in 1998, the call would have been overturned, Seattle would have made the playoffs, and Erickson wouldn't have been fired.

The second fact deals with the minority-coaches issue. While the Cowboys (5-11 in 2002) and the Lions (3-13) can be faulted by virtually no one for hiring Bill Parcells and Steve Mariucci respectively, the hiring of Erickson, who in his four years at Seattle never finished better than 8-8 or higher than third in the AFC West, to coach a 49er team coming off a 10-6 season and a division title, is just the type of situation that is tailor-made to draw heated complaints from the usual circles. John York thus ends up "looking" a lot worse than either Jerry Jones or Bill Ford.
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Old 02-13-2003, 05:30 AM   #15
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Okay, I've had some time to calm down. I'm still rooting for the Niners to go 0h-fer until they fire Erickson.

Two quick things: I was at work when I learned of the hire and wrote the posts I wrote. No exposure to Sportscenter or other sports opinions, aside from the announcement on espn.com at all. So, whoever suggested that motivated my angst can go watch sportscenter some more and see if they actually have any real upset over the hire.

Digital chimed in with what I would have had I not read his post first. I will add, because that's what I do. Does ANYONE (Digital is exempted) remember what happened at Miami while Erickson was there, aside from winning two gift-wrapped National Titles (gifts left over from the Jimmy Johnson era), and why he left? ANYONE?? The program was a mess. He brought in every drug dealer, rapist, thug that he could. He was going to be fired from the job!! Fortune and a pro team saved him the embarrassment. Butch Davis was brought in with one edict, and that edict was not to win. It was to return the program to one of respectability. Davis' first season was spent continually removing players from the roster for even minor deviations from the law. I don't know what the situation is like down there now, but I do know that if the team is harboring drug dealers and rapists and thugs like they were ten years ago, they're keeping it out of the news.

Poptart's rehashing of success stories in failed coach's second jobs rings true for the names he mentioned, but I am unconvinced and unmoved. His record in Seattle isn't as good as it looks on first blush. He never cracked .500. In fact, the Seahawks finished .500 in 3 of his 4 years. In four years, Holmgren's twice broken .500, the first time in his first year as coach there WITH JON FRICKIN' KITNA AS HIS STARTING QB and many of the same players Erickson had the year before!!! One game doesn't mean much, but it means enough.

On minority hiring of coaches in the NFL: I think one of the things most people feel, and Joey and #47 expressed, is that somehow the NFL mandates that you hire someone you'd prefer not to. That's not even close to the case. The NFL, if the world were utopic, wouldn't give one damn who was hired where and when. The world isn't utopic, and our nation, like it or not, continues to be a highly segmented one, and one of the lines of segmentation is race, or skin color.
Over the past, oh, twenty years or so, the NFL has become increasingly played by men of color. I have memories of a joke from my childhood (not as long ago as it feels) regarding the predominance of running backs being the lone black among ten white guys. (A misnomer to be sure, since there were plenty of black WRs at the time, but you get the point.) Now, it's not at all uncommon to have but two or three white guys, usually on the offensive line, on your offense. The defense may have no white starter at all.
And, of 32 teams, only 3 have black coaches. Okay, so nature actually has to take effect, and we're starting to see that. The preponderance of black players whose careers have ended in the last decade and a half or two who had the motivation to coach have been toiling as assistants in college and in the pros, and, worth salt, moving up the ladder. We see now a number of minority assistants, with many of them reportedly successful assistants and as having the potential to be head coaches in the league.
Remember that the NFL is vying to be/continuing to be the country's top sports entertainment seller. In that regard, they owe it to themselves not to have people gripe about race as a power issue in the league.
Remember also that the NFL is self-monitored and self-governed. When owners themselves are convinced to recognize their shortcomings in hiring minorities and create a policy regarding such shortcomings, that's to be commended. Jesse Jackson and Johnny Cochran didn't tell the league to create guidelines.

(The threat of lawsuit at the season's start by Cochran was fanciful attention-getting at best. Tagliabue, being an attorney, knew two things: 1. The league would likely win, but at what cost to the bottom line? 2. The league doesn't want bad press; Tagliabue doesn't believe in the "any press is good press" adage. He's running a sports league, not a train wreck. ) The owners themselves did that. That their guidelines are well short of the mark isn't too surprising, as the guidelines are an attempt to break a cycle that they themselves established.
We call that cycle the "Old Boy's Network." The phrase doesn't sound ominous, but has that connotation that certain folks, usually women, but certainly black men, are locked out of positions because somebody's good buddy, who screwed up the first three times, is looking for something to do, and yeah, while there's this other young guy available who has developed a reputation... you get the point.
The old boy's network is showing its cracks. As someone suggested in above posts (not scrolling to recover, but it was either Doug or Brad), front office jobs for blacks have been lacking as well. But, the first black GM was hired this hiring cycle, as well as the first President of anything. Both moves in the right direction, but are they fast enough? Maybe, maybe not.
As a society, we have a history of trying to artificially ameliorate wrongs committed in the past. While this occasionally rankles the middle-aged, middle-income white guy, it's difficult to argue that the practice usually advances the cause at a pace faster than would normally be the case. Left to rich white men with a lot of friends, and middle-income white guys with opinions, things wouldn't change very quickly at all.
Things aren't changing in the NFL either. So, the owners decided to try to guide change, while not really asserting it. This is where they messed up, not in the attempt.
47 argues that he should be permitted to hire whomever he likes. Yes, that's true. However, statutes exist that protect the prospects en masse that you don't hire. If 47 doesn't hire, as a rule, black men when they could easilty do at least as good a job as the schleps he has on staff now, in today's society, it's difficult to argue that to be an "OKAY" thing. I won't go so far as to say you HAVE to hire a black guy, 47, but I think that you should be forced to consider it, because, for crying out loud, they make up, in th e NFL's case, what, 90% or better of the work force(players), probably 15-25% of the lower management(assistants), exactly 9.375% of middle management(head coaches), and something on the order of .01% of upper management(front office). Hardly a fair representation of the work force that over the last decade started realizing that opportunity does exist. Will time change that? Of course. But, as I noted above, there's no real harm in trying to artificially expedite matters, especially when done correctly.

One more note on your post, 47, because I can still see it without scrolling up: suggesting Cochran and Jackson go out and buy their own team and hire who they want is about as 8-year old-sounding as it gets. The NFL is strictly a members-only club (one of the problems) that admits members rather infrequently (second problem). And when a team goes up for sale, the buyer must be approved by the rest of the club. So, for someone like Ben Johnson (isn't that the name of the BET guy who just opted in on the NBA expansion team) to just put down the cash doesn't mean he'll get his team. So, take that argument back to the playground it came from.

And finally: I submit that Tom Donohue knew his intentions from the moment after Mariucci was fired. This contention (based on nothing but a keen sense of filth) is supported by a report on ESPN that Erickson had been contacted over THREE WEEKS AGO. For the record, Mariucci was fired THREE WEEKS AGO Wednesday.
And, instead of simply hiring his man, he let Erickson see Signing Day through. Good for Oregon State, bad for Oregon State's recruits.

And really, aren't this year's Beaver recruits the REAL victims here. Erickson did right by his current employer --sort of-- by alienating and abandoning his recruits. Weren't we all ripping Franchione for screwing players he'd convinced to stay through sanctions? Shouldn't we be ripping Erickson likewise? It's far too late in the game for Oregon State to get a top flight college name, and heaven forbid Mike Riley run Oregon State again. (Serves Riley right for having to go back there when 'Bama wanted to give him the job. What an idiot.) I realized he had a fair run at Oregon State, but it wasn't anything to be excited about.

Umm. It's late. Time for bed.

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