Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Event Has Become Job Fair for Coaches Turnover Rate Adds to Urgency

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Event Has Become Job Fair for Coaches Turnover Rate Adds to Urgency

Article excerpt

MOBILE, Ala. -- Kevin Gilbride stood in the cold rain, and although he wore a Steelers warm-up suit, he stayed on the sidelines while the Steelers' staff coached on the field.

Gilbride, for the second time in three seasons, is unemployed, fired after two seasons as Steelers offensive coordinator. Two years ago, Gilbride was in a similar situation in the offseason, having been fired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Gilbride, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator from 1995-96, can take solace in one overriding truth.

In the volatile world of NFL coaching, his story is far from unique.

"You recognize it as an inherent part of what you do, and you don't dwell on it," Gilbride said yesterday morning at the Senior Bowl. "If anything, it's spiraling downward even more. Each year, it seems it gets crazier, harder to maintain some continuity. But you do the best job you can, hope it's appreciated, and hope it allows you to maintain your employment."

Often, employment is not maintained, and many coaches at the Senior Bowl smiled forlornly when asked about continuity. Ron Zook, defensive coordinator of the Saints, spoke yesterday of his days as defensive coordinator and special teams coach at the University of Florida, and recalled that he lived in Gainesville from 1991-95.

"That's the longest I've ever stayed anywhere," Zook said. "The norm is to move."

Nearly every coach has a similar story, and that's why Senior Bowl practices are annually as much about handshakes and politicking as scouting players.

Gilbride yesterday met with Bengals head coach Dick Lebeau about the offensive coordinator job there, and ex-interim Redskins coach Terry Robiskie and ex-Bills head coach Wade Phillips were also actively working the lobby at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Mobile.

"The NFL is a business," Cowboys coach Dave Campo said. "People have to understand that. To the general public, it's a game. To the owners, this is a business. Consequently, there are bottom lines involved."

Since the end of the season, four head coaches have been fired: Phillips, Robiskie, Browns coach and ex-Jaguars offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham. …

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