Sometimes people comment, email, or tweet me questions about whether or not Bill Polian hires the head coaches for the Indianapolis Colts. The simple answer is no. Not always.
The only Colts coach Polian has ever hired was Jim Mora Sr. The marriage ended badly, with Polian firing Mora after he refused to dimiss his then-defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, following the 2001 season. Today, Fangio coordinates Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers defense, which ranks No. 1 in the NFL. Mora Sr. still has not spoken a word to Polian since their break-up ten years ago.
After Mora, the common myth is that Polian then hired former Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy. Not true. Polian never had any intention of hiring Dungy back in 2002. It was Colts owner Jim Irsay who wanted Dungy despite Polian's protests. To make the situation work, Irsay and Polian went to Tampa, met with Dungy, and worked things out. The rest is history, as they say.
Phil Wilson of the Indianapolis Star spoke about the hiring of Dungy yesterday on an Indianapolis radio show:
Dungy wasn't Polian's guy. I know that for a fact, that Dungy was not who Bill wanted. Jimmy [Irsay] basically got Bill on a plane. He went down to Tampa. They got Tony and Bill in a room and said, You work it out. Jimmy just made it clear: He's my coach.
It's always been speculated that Polian wanted to hire Nick Saban as the Colts head man after Mora was canned. Some of you might not know this, but Saban was who Polian wanted to hire in 1998. The deal never materialized. Polian settled for Mora. Saban was eventually hired by an NFL team in 2006 (the Dolphins), only to lie to and then ditch them after two seasons so he coach coach as Alabama. While the coach in Miami, Saban also famously snubbed free agent quarterback Drew Brees and opted to sign Dante Culpepper. Brees signed with the Saints after the deal with Miami fell through. Saban was also an insufferable prick to both his players and his team employees.
Yeah. Saban in Indy would have been grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!
Fascinated bit of history, isn't it? Bill Polian's legacy was solidified by the work Tony Dungy did in Indianapolis. Prior to Dungy, Polian was viewed as a loser who couldn't build championship teams. He'd get close, but his teams would end up choking in the end, like the Bills and Scot Norwood in 1991.
Yet, Polian never wanted to hire Dungy. He even had to be strong-armed a bit to work with him. Amazing.
It kind of makes you wonder who Bill will want to hire if he and his son Chris are retained following the 2011 season. After the jump, Phil Wilson explains how that coach might be... Norv Turner?
It's worth noting that, like Dungy, Jim Caldwell was not someone Bill Polian wanted to hire as the head coach. Again, like Dungy, Caldwell was an Irsay hire, and it was done to maintain the status quo. Also, think about it: Caldwell was Peyton Manning's quarterback coach. Clearly, the move was made to satisfy the retiring Dungy and to keep Peyton happy.
Now, with the Colts 0-13 and flirting with 0-16, Jim Caldwell's job is in serious jeopardy, as are the Bill and Chris Polian's. However, should Bill and Chris stick around after 2011, the speculation has already begun as to who they would hire to replace Caldwell.
As Phil Wilson astutely points out, the problem with keeping the Polians around is, quite simply, many coaches don't want to work for them. The Polians have an awful reputation in league circles for being insufferable pricks (they act that way with everyone, not just media), and they are known as meddlers. They will want full control over the roster, and they will also want the next head coach to retain some of the current assistants working under Caldwell.
Wilson explains to radio personality Dan Dakich on his show yesterday:
It's complicated, as you probably have already surmised, when you've talked about with me or your listeners. If Bill is still in place, there's certain coaches he'll want to keep. And, a head coach who comes in is going to want some control. He's going to want to do things his own way, a little bit. Well, that's not the Colts.
Those assistants Wilson is referring to are likely offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars, wide receiver coach Frank Reich, interim-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Murphy, and quarterbacks coach Ron Turner. Polian drafted Metzelaars and Reich as players while he was G.M. in Buffalo. Polian is close with Norv Turner, who is Ron Turner's brother. Murphy is the coach Polian supposedly told Caldwell to replace Larry Coyer with. Coyer was fired two weeks ago.
For people hoping that someone like Jeff Fisher would come to Indianapolis, the meddling nature of the Polians probably puts the breaks on that. Independent-minded coaches, a.k.a. REAL ONES, want their own people on their staff. Weak-minded coaches, a.k.a. lackeys, will do anything the G.M. tells them.
People like, say, Norv Turner.
Turner has worked for general manager A.J. Smith in San Diego for five seasons. Smith worked under Polian in Buffalo for many years. Both he and Turner are likely on the outs in San Diego after this season, and since Turner is close with Polian, he might be a candidate in Indianapolis.
I don't know if Jimmy has someone in mind [as a new coach], or if he'll go outside the box, or whether he'll actually let Bill hire the coach this time. I'm kind of curious about that. You know, somebody who is close to Bill is Norv Turner, and Norv could be on the way out [in San Diego]. So, I wonder about him.
I'd probably stop rooting for the Colts if Norv Turner were introduced as the new head coach in February. Maybe that's Bill's secret plan.
Look, we continue to beat this drum, and we will do so until Jim Irsay opens his eyes and realizes the obvious: Bill Polian and his useless sons must be purged from the front office at the end of the season. I don't know how Jim Irsay could sell to the fanbase that soon-to-be-thrice-fired Norv Turner is going to lead the Colts to a championship. And since it seems unlikely that any sort of credible head coach would ever come to Indy and deal with the overbearing asshats who currently run the front office, the question is: Why keep them?
Why keep the Polians? How do they help? How do they improve the quality of the franchise?
Their recent draft record is horrible. They spurn free agency. They can't hire quality coaches. People around the league refer to them as 'toxic.'
If, for nothing else, they should be fired just to kill any and all suggestions that Norv friggin Turner would ever be the head coach in Indianapolis!
Heck, if we're purging Polians, let's purge Turners as well. It's not like Ron has been stellar this year getting the quarterbacks ready to play. Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, and Dan Orlovsky have thrown a combined 11 touchdowns and 12 INTs. They also have an astounding 13 fumbles. Most of the touchdowns tossed by Collins and Orlovsky were done in garbage time with the game already decided.
So, yeah. If you personally are still on the Polian bandwagon, maybe the name NORV TURNER will finally scare you off it.