Monday officially marks the beginning of the latest hiring cycle in the NFL.
The numerous available head coaching jobs will draw attention to the opportunities given to and hiring of minority candidates. Last year's cycle saw only one of eight head coaching jobs go to a diversity candidate (Brian Flores with the Dolphins), sparking discussion of what the league and its teams can improve to increase the diversity among its 32 head coaches.
During Monday's The Aftermath, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Rod Graves, former Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross, ex-Redskins and Texans general manager Charley Casserly and NFL Network's Steve Wyche held a roundtable discussing the state of the Rooney Rule and minority hiring in the NFL.
"The league has a diversity policy which basically states that openings have to be fair, open and competitive, And part of what we do with Fritz Pollard Alliance is ensure that this process holds true," Graves said. "Primarily we want to make sure that we get a fair share and a good crack at the opportunities that are out there."
Wyche listed a litany of qualified potential head coach candidates: ex-Panthers HC Ron Rivera, ex-Lions and Colts HC Jim Caldwell, Chiefs OC Eric Bienemy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, Bills DC and former Vikings HC Leslie Fraizer. There also are former head coaches Marvin Lewis, Steve Wilks and Raheem Morris. At the college level, there is Penn State HC James Franklin, Stanford's David Shaw and Clemson OC Tony Elliott.
Rivera currently is considered the favorite to become the next head coach of the Redskins, while Bienemy and Saleh have drawn interest from team's with coach openings.
Graves said the onus is on the league's 32 owners to improve diversity in the coaching ranks.
"The league has done an excellent job of focusing on the develop and recognition of candidates," Graves said. "Where we haven't focused attention is on the decision side of the equation where there's been a lack of commitment on diversity and diversity of leadership and that's where the change has to come."
Graves added: "We require now as of 2018 that there be multiple candidates and that hopefully that increases the chances of someone emerging as a selection. But I will say this Steve that in 1919 Fritz Pollard was the first African-American head coach. 100 years later we've got three head coaches, maybe soon to be four or five and one GM. That is shameful in my opinion. That is not much progress. We need to take the position that this game belongs to all of us at every level. It's not just for the privileged few."
Graves said that it is not just interview opportunities that is important, but a concerted commitment to diversity.
"We're getting more opportunities to interview. We're not getting the call on the selection. I think that has evolved into a lack of commitment. We know that diversity has to be intentional. And that's the only way we satisfy this and turn it around."