49ers hiring process a sham?

The agent for Jets' defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell has called the 49ers' hiring process "a dog-and-pony" show, among other comments. The situation comes on the heels of criticism regarding the Lions' hiring practices after naming Steve Mariucci head coach, and continues to call into question the league's minority hiring mandate.

(SAN FRANCISCO, Ca) -- Recent comments by Joe Linta, agent for jilted New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, exposes serious flaws in the NFL's new minority hiring guidelines. 

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, Linta said Cottrell's interview was nothing more than "a dog-and-pony show."

"Was it a dog-and-pony show? Yes," Linta told The Chronicle. "But did it give [Cottrell] some visibility? Yes. ... But if they're parading these guys out there just to give them exposure where they wouldn't have had it before, then why not just say that?

"If they're not truly being considered, but [the 49'ers] want to make it known that they are strong candidates, just come out and say it," Linta continued. "Because if they did that with them, why did they keep the other guys a secret? Why lie about (Dennis) Erickson? Why lie about (Rick) Neuheisel? Why have Neuheisel lie? Why pile lie on top of lie and misstatement on top of misstatement?"

Linta was reacting to the way the 49ers handled their head coaching position.  San Francisco interviewed Cottrell along with Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache and labeled them the finalists among "known candidates" for their opening.  However, after Cottrell had interviewed a second time, former Seattle Seahawks and Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson and University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel secretly interviewed for the position and after just one interview, Erickson was quickly named the 49ers head coach. 

Of course, the reason the 49ers did it was because of the flap in Detroit, where Rev. Jesse Jackson along with attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri are demanding serious sanctions be leveled against the Lions because Detroit's President and CEO Matt Millen took just the opposite track.  Millen told all the minority candidates he called for interviews that Steve Mariucci was 'a leading candidate' but that he wasn't the 'only' candidate.

Apparently the mere mention of Mariucci's name was reason enough for all five minority candidates to eliminate themselves from consideration from the interview process and label the Lions interview process "a sham".  When Detroit went ahead and hired the emminently qualified Mariucci, the cries went up that Detroit should be heavily fined and even disqualified from participation in the NFL draft.

Mike's Take:
Both situations highlight the flaws in the NFL policy.  No one, however is disputing the goals of the NFL's diversity committee.  The problem is with the process, not the clubs.  The NFL needs to take a step back and listen to all the parties involved.  No fines, no draft picks forfeited, just get in a room and talk it all out.

Penalizing the Lions for being honest in their evaluation of candidates isn't the way to go.  Penalizing the 49'ers for being dishonest, but following the NFL's policy also isn't the way to go. 

What is the way to go?  Fairness, honesty and openness.

Notes: The Seattle Seahawks have hired Lions' defensive line assistant John Marshall as their linebackers coach. Mariucci earlier had said he would not allow Seattle permission, Marshall must have asked for it.

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