The New York Giants had been rumored to be pursuing Baylor’s Matt Rhule as their next head coach. However, on Tuesday, the Giants announced that they had hired former Patriots wide receiver coach Joe Judge as their next coach.
This news was greeted with surprise by many, but was received with anger by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who lashed out at the Giants for hiring Judge, who is white, and not hiring Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who is black. Smith criticized the Giants for hiring a wide receivers coach from a team where wide receiver was considered a position of weakness. Then, he further lambasted the hire by pointing out that Bienemy is an offensive coordinator, a higher position than a receivers coach, and a particularly good one.
For those reasons, Smith believes Bienemy should have been the hire.
Specifically referencing race and the Rooney Rule, Smith said:
And so to me, that speaks to a bigger issue. And the other thing that I’ll speak to, and I’ll say this to all these professional sports team out here just from a generic perspective. You know what? We speak constantly and we preach in our society about going through the proper channels and the proper levels to elevate yourself to another level. And I’m telling you something right now. I am getting sick to my stomach at guys that I see — I’m just going to say it because nobody else, most people won’t.
This don’t happen for black folk. A wide receivers coach that becomes the head coach. Eric Bieniemy is in Kansas City. Now, he’s the offensive coordinator even though he’s not the play-caller. That would be because the great Andy Reid is the one calling the plays. This guy gets those gratuitous interviews that don’t really amount to anything. I don’t know who they brought in for the Rooney Rule. The Cowboys brought in Marvin Lewis. And by the way because someone had that conversation with somebody about Marvin Lewis. Marvin Lewis coached in this league for 16 years. I know that Marvin Lewis deserves to be a head coach in the National Football League, but there’s something to be said about not winning a playoff game in those 16 years. There are plenty of African Americans in the National Football League, who by the way happen to be coordinators, that deserve a look.
On Twitter, Smith called the Rooney Rule “bogus:”
I don’t want to hear a damn thing else about the Rooney Rule. Not after this hire by the NY Giants pic.twitter.com/NEiG4aCLOJ
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 7, 2020
Smith says he doesn’t know who the Giants interviewed to satisfy the league’s Rooney Rule requirement which states that each team must interview at least one minority candidate prior to selecting a new coach. However, as it turns out, the Giants did satisfy the Rooney Rule requirement by interviewing Bienemy himself last Saturday. So, considering that the Rooney Rule only mandates the interviewing of a minority candidate, not the hiring of a minority candidate, the Giants complied with the rule.
As to the part about Bienemy perhaps being better qualified than Judge because he has a higher position, there’s some truth to that. Though, it’s not a minor point that Bienemy has not called plays in Kansas City. Most teams like the coordinators they interview to have some play calling experience. However, more to the point, Bienemy not getting the job might have much more to do with the fact that he couldn’t start right away because his team is still playing.
Bienemy, potentially, would not be able to start working in New York for another month. That, according to NBC’s Peter King, was a factor in the Panthers choosing to hire Baylor’s Matt Rhule over Bienemy, and it could very well have played a role in the Giants decision to hire Judge over Bienemy.
Ultimately, Bienemy’s situation could lead to the NFL making a rule which prevents coaching searches from beginning until after the Super Bowl.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn