Jim Ayello of the IndyStar spoke with former Colts General Manager Bill Polian about all that is involved in finding a new head coach in the NFL. Throughout the story, Polian explains how important it is for each General Manager to maintain and update a relatively short list of coaching candidates who they would interview if hiring a new head coach becomes necessary. This is the same expectation that Chris Ballard indicated he has for head coaching candidates when it comes to each aspect of their operation as well.
Polian expressed confidence in Ballard’s approach to the process and the likelihood that he will get the choice right.
He’s a dyed in the wool football person. He’s not someone who came up via law school or something like that. He’s a detail person. He’s worked at every level of the game. He’s worked in every facet of the game. He knows exactly how he wants to proceed. He knows what his vision is and he knows and has a plan for winning championships. He’s the right guy for the job.
He also supported Ballard’s approach to keep the process internal and to not get caught up in what is being said in the media. This puts fans in an interesting position because there is a ton of information and speculation that gets passed around through media circles, and specifically through social media. Assuming that the media knows every interview that happens or every candidate on Ballard’s list is likely unwise — after all, it may be only a media fabricated story that Toub is Ballard’s main guy.
Or... maybe not.
Polian suggested shutting out all of the noise during this process.
Turn off the TV; turn off the radio; don’t read the newspapers, have the PR guy brief you on stuff you need to know and get on with your job of hiring the best guy for your franchise. I could give a rip what the trend is in the league. I couldn’t care less what somebody else is doing. It only counts in terms of what you’re doing. You’re picking the best person for you, based on your parameters, based on your needs, based on what your blueprint is. Nothing else matters.
While it is too early to tell who Ballard will hire as the next head coach for the Colts, it is clear that he and Polian share philosophies. In his year-end press conference he made it very clear that candidates from every background, various levels of experience, at various ages, and with any possible football philosophy or focus will be considered and potentially interviewed for the spot. Members of the media and fans may have strong opinions about these candidates but none of them have a clue what the process looks like during the interview. Only Ballard will be able to make heads or tails of who impresses him and he will have to block out the external to make the right choice.
In what might be one of the more interesting pieces of the story, Polian goes out of his way to describe Irsay’s role in the hiring process. He makes it clear that the interviews are the General Manager’s responsibility to lead and that after each interview Jim Irsay will be brought into the fold. Sometimes the discussion will be brief and quickly move to the next candidate and other times there will be a deeper focus as the General Manager narrows down the candidates and determines whether there is a need for a second interview.
Polian indicated that Irsay is a very knowledgeable owner, the most knowledgeable that he ever worked with, and that his role in the process was helpful in reaching the right decision.
Any discussions about coaching personnel and anything about the football team with him took 75 percent less time that it would with someone else who doesn’t have that the football background he does. He always asked me a lot of great questions and forced me to think and come up with answers that made me come back and say, ‘You know what, your point is well taken. We should do something else.’ He’s different. He’s totally different. He’s got a breadth of football experience that very few owners brings to the table.
This view of Irsay is in contrast with a lot of the pot shots that comes the owner’s way. While some focus on his tweeting habits, the darker points of his battle with addiction, or even criticize the way he speaks during press conferences, Polian’s comments support the common consensus from those who have worked with Jim Irsay professionally that is very knowledgeable and a valuable resource to have at the table. There is little incentive for Polian, who is in the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments, to go off of the rails to make these comments about Irsay if he didn’t really believe them.
As the playoffs crawl on, you can be sure that Irsay and Ballard are hard at work preparing for the next interview or carefully considering the candidates that have already come through the door. If Ballard and Polian are to be believed, there is a good chance that very little of what is said in the media has any impact on what direction those conversations will go. Fans will have to patiently wait for the process to play out — something they should be used to after this 2017 NFL season.