The View From Pluto: The Ticking Clock on Interim Coaches

Nov 7, 2018

The Cavs and the Browns are taking different approaches in the aftermath of firing their coaches. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says interim coaches know their time at the helm may be short, and it adds a whole new dynamic to the team and its staff. 

The tainted coordinator
When the Browns fired Hue Jackson with just three wins in two-plus seasons, they promoted defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as interim coach. 

Williams has had a rocky tenure in the NFL. Most notably, he was suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, when he was the defensive coordinator there. Members of the team were found guilty of paying out bonuses or "bounties" for injuring opposing team players.   

"He was the one that they tried to make an example of," Pluto said. "But a whole lot of teams had been doing that for a long time. He probably never thought he was going to be a head coach again."

'He probably never thought he was going to be a head coach again'

So, Williams saw an opportunity. But it's a much different view for the more than dozen other coaches and coordinators.

"Somebody like Williams whose been an NFL lifer and has made millions and millions of dollars. He gets fired tomorrow, someone else will make him a coordinator next year. But you have these younger assistants who came to the Browns just this year and moved their families. They know what they're getting into but part of Gregg Williams' job is to keep his assistants focused on their jobs and not just thinking about the next job."

And Pluto said the team had many positives in their loss to Kansas City. "They only had four penalties which was a season low for them and they looked very organized. So we'll see how it holds up the remaining games to keep the ship from just tanking straight to the bottom."

'He played the power card and won'

Refusing the interim title
On the flipside is Larry Drew. The Cavs' assistant was named interim coach when the team fired Tyronn Lue. But, Drew refused to that title and demanded a new contract. It took a couple weeks, but he and the Cavs worked it out. The deal includes an option for next season.  

"They just figured he'll finish out the season and go into the good night. He's 60-years-old. He's played in the NBA and has been a long-time assistant coach. He took over an Atlanta team that wasn't all that good and took them to the playoffs three straight times."

Pluto says Drew was fired in Atltanta and another head coaching job in Milwaukee. 

"His view was, 'I'm not the typical interim coach. I don't actually need this job.' He played the power card and won."