Itís funny. For the last week I have been planning to write an article entitled ďThe Pioli DecisionĒ. The gist of the article would have been that Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli will be faced with a difficult decision when the year is over. Actually, two decisions that have consequences on each other. One, what to do with the quarterback. And two, what to do with the head coach.
You would think that the Chiefs will have to at least consider drafting a quarterback in the first round of the draft this year. And head coach Todd Haley has (had) one year left on his contract. If Pioli believes in Matt Cassel, then he can allow Haley to coach the team through the final year of his contract before making a final decision on extending Haleyís contract or replacing him. But if the Chiefs draft a quarterback, you canít let Haley dangle with just one year left. You either have to fire him at the end of the season, or extend his contract. It wouldnít be fair to tell Haley heís coaching for his job, and then hand him a rookie quarterback.
But on Monday, Pioli fired Haley.
Is it fair? From a coaching standpoint, probably not. Haley made mistakes this year, but there were circumstances well beyond his control. Iíve read many of the local and the national articles about Pioliís decision, but I want to take this from a different perspective. The perspective of an employer.
I seem to be in the minority, but I like Todd Haley. I think heís a good coach. Is he good enough to coach a team to the Super Bowl? Maybe. With the right team. But I donít think Haleyís coaching ability had anything to do with why he was fired.
I have employed and managed hundreds of people. And one lesson I learned the hard way was that when you have an employee who is the wrong fit for your organization, the sooner you replace that employee, the better. There were rumors that Pioli wanted to fire Haley last year. Then there were rumors that Pioli would have fired Haley if the Chiefs had lost to the Colts and started the season 1-4. I tend to take rumors with a grain of salt. Many rumors are untrue and unfounded. But in hindsight, I think we can now assume they were true.
Itís clear that Pioli and Haley had a dysfunctional working relationship. And itís likely that Pioli had come to the conclusion long ago that Haley was the wrong fit for the Chiefs. Or at least, the wrong fit to work for Pioli. But how do you fire a coach that just won the AFC West? That would have been a tough sell to Chiefs fans. Pioli decided he had to wait until he had ďpublic justificationĒ for the firing of Haley. And he finally got it with the loss to the Jets. The Chiefs could no longer pretend that they still had a shot at the playoffs. And Haley was fired.
I think the jury is still out on whether or not Scott Pioli can lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. There are some glaring holes on this roster, and Pioli is responsible. Some have even speculated that Pioli sabotaged the roster so that he could justifiably fire Haley. I donít believe that for a minute. But that doesnít mean that Pioli made all of the same decisions that he would have made if he had full support of his head coach. Only Pioli can look in the mirror and decide if he did everything possible to make this season a success.
And while I tend to like Haley more than I like Pioli, I might have come to the same conclusion and fired Haley. Itís great to have fire and passion. I like that in a head coach. But I donít like disrespect. A heated discussion between Haley and Matt Cassel doesnít bother me at all. But some of the public arguments between Haley and his assistants bothered me a lot. Those discussions should be behind closed doors, and should always be respectful. As a business owner, I would never undermine one of my managers by berating them in front of other employees. (Actually, I donít think I ever berated an employee.) Haley not only berated his assistants, he seemed to relish that atmosphere. He wanted the confrontations, and obviously believed them to be beneficial to the team. Iím guessing Pioli came to a different conclusion.
One more comment and weíll move on. I listened to the press conference with Scott Pioli and owner Clark Hunt. Iíve been surprised that I havenít seen this comment anywhere else. On multiple occasions, Hunt said that he wanted a team that the fans could be proud of. Iím guessing that Hunt was not proud to have Haley as the face of the franchise.
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