As you’ve probably heard elsewhere, Seattle will announce later today the promotion of assistant Jim Mora to head coach in 2009, following the retirement of Mike Holmgren. Mora signed a 5 year extension with the Seahawks, and the Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil helpfully points out the Rooney Rule doesn’t apply in this instance.
One of the things that will be discussed in the coming days is the application of the Rooney Rule, the nomenclature commonly applied for the protocol that NFL teams must interview at least one minority candidate for any coaching vacancy.
But there is an exception to that provision, one very clearly spelled out as early as December 2002 and that is if a team has a contractual commitment to promote an assistant coach to the head-coaching position — as the Rams did in 2000 with Mike Martz — then there is no need for additional interviews. So according to the NFL, if a promotion to head coach is written into Jim Mora’s contract while he is an assistant, there is no need for additional interviews.
Mora is the second assistant coach to be designated a successor this offseason. Indianapolis’ Jim Caldwell will succeed Tony Dungy when he steps down. Caldwell is African-American, which makes moot any discussion of the Rooney Rule and its application.
One could make a case for Mora’s firing in Atlanta being the greatest thing that could’ve happened to him. Had Arthur Blank not given Mora the axe, the latter would’ve presided over the Falcons’ first post-Michael Vick campaign. It’s pretty unlikely Mora would’ve found a major college gig waiting for him (before the season ended).