Trio of coaching decisions rock professional, college football landscape
‘Black Monday’ is the moniker given to the first Monday following the conclusion of the National Football League’s regular season. It's a time in where teams are motivated to make changes after unsuccessful seasons in a day of mass firings
Black Monday had its casualties, with the Atlanta Falcons' job the first to open up after the team dismissed head coach Arthur Smith.
The Washington Commanders followed suit with the firing of veteran head coach Ron Rivera.
But Wednesday and Thursday's announcements shocked the football world. From the dismissal of Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, to the sudden retirement of Alabama head coach and college football titan Nick Saban, plus the New England Patriots-Bill Belichick era coming to an end after 24 years, the week will go down in history.
Three legendary football coaching tenures come to a close within the span of 24 hours. pic.twitter.com/0RnYor7rlT— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 11, 2024
Carroll was the first domino to fall on Wednesday as chair Jody Allen and the Seahawks announced that, after 14 seasons, Carroll's role with the franchise would change.
"After thoughtful meetings and careful consideration for the best interest of the franchise, we have amicably agreed with Pete Carroll that his role will evolve from head coach to remain with the organization as an advisor," Allen said in a statement.
In his farewell, though, Carroll stated he still has the desire to coach.
"I competed pretty hard to be the coach, just so you know,” Carroll said Wednesday in exit press conference.
"I just wanted to make sure I stood up for all of our coaches and the players and the things that we had accomplished. Not just so we could be the coach still, but so we could continue to have a chance to be successful and keep the organization going. That's what I was fighting for."
The now 72-year-old Carroll joined the Seahawks in 2010 following a decorated tenure with the University of Southern California Trojans, winning a pair of AP Poll National Championships in 2003, 2004 and a litany of Pac-12 (2002-08), Orange Bowl (2002, 2004), and Rose Bowl (2003, 2006-08) titles.
Carroll led the Seahawks to the franchise's first Super Bowl title in 2013, beating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8.
Carroll and the Seahawks fell one play shy of a repeat against the New England Patriots a season later by a goal-line interception by Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl XLIX.
Following the team's decision to trade star quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos in March of 2022, Carroll and the Seahawks turned to veteran Geno Smith as the team embarked on a new era.
Carroll is the winningest head coach in Seahawks history, with a 137-89-1 record.
“I'm thrilled that we've had this run. I really am. This level of consistency that we've demonstrated is such that it makes you proud,” Carroll added.
Just as one shoe dropped, another was on the way as ESPN's Chris Low reported Wednesday that Saban informed his Alabama players of his decision to retire.
Saban, also 72, has won seven National Championships, including six with the Crimson Tide, and has set the standard of what a successful program looks like at the college level, sending countless players to the NFL.
Saban would establish a juggernaut during his time in Tuscaloosa. Over 17 seasons, Saban's Tide would win 11 SEC titles and six National Championships. He leaves the Tide with a mark of 201-29.
He finishes his NCAA career with a record of 292-71-1 over 28 seasons. His 292 wins are 15th all-time and were most among active FBS coaches.
"I don't think there's any good time, especially when you're a coach. Because once you're a coach, you think you're going to be a coach forever." Saban to ESPN's Rece Davis on Friday.
"I thought that in hiring coaches and recruiting players, my age started to become a little bit of an issue. People wanted assurances that I would be here for three years, five years, whatever. And that got harder and harder for me to be honest about. And to be honest, this last season was gruelling. It was a real grind for us to come from where we started to where we got to.”
"And when people mentioned the health issue, it was just the grind of, 'Can you do this the way you want to do it? Can you do it the way you've always done it and be able to sustain it and do it for the entire season?'
"And if I couldn't make a commitment to do that in the future, the way I think I have to do it. I thought maybe this was the right time based on those two sets of circumstances.
"There's never a good time. But I thought maybe this was the right time."
Now was also apparently the right time for the Patriots and Belichick to go separate ways as owner Robert Kraft announced Thursday that the two parties would mutually part ways after six Super Bowl titles and 17 AFC East Division titles.
Kraft decided to take the franchise in a new direction after finishing 4-13 in 2023, the team’s worst finish since Belichick’s first season at the helm in 2000.
It was also the worst record of Belichick’s 29-year NFL head coaching career. It is the first time during Belichick’s tenure that the Patriots have finished last in the AFC East.
"Robert and I, after a series of discussions, mutually agreed to part ways," Belichick, 71, said Thursday. "And for me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration."
"(I'll) start with Robert and his family: so much thanks for the opportunity to be that coach here for 24 years. It's an amazing opportunity. (I) received tremendous support. We had a vision of building and winner and building a championship football team here. That's exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations.”
"This is a move that we mutually agreed that is needed at this time," Kraft said Thursday. "What Bill accomplished, in my opinion, will never be duplicated.
"It'll be difficult to see him in a cutoff hoodie on the sideline, but I'll always wish him continued success, except when it's against the beloved Patriots."
The Patriots have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons and have finished with a record above .500 just once since quarterback Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots filled their coaching vacancy promptly, hiring Jerod Mayo as their next head coach on Friday.
Mayo, 37, is now the youngest head coach in the NFL. He joined the Patriots coaching staff in 2019 as an inside linebackers coach.
He spent his entire eight-year playing career with New England, winning Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. Mayo was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008 and a First-Team All-Pro in 2010. He was also a two-time Pro-Bowler.