Rob Chudzinski was the Carolina Panther’s offensive coordinator last season and parlayed his success into a head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. Most would think, “good for him, if he works hard he deserves his promotion.” Last week, though, Steve Smith made a statement about how he felt about Rob Chudzinski and his “audition” for a head coaching job:
I think it was really a power move by the former offensive coordinator [Chudzinski] – he was really positioning himself and trying to show, ‘Hey I’m capable,’” Smith said. “I think he was applying for a head coaching job, and our offense kind of suffered because of that. At times, we got kind of cute and did things that weren’t necessarily us. Underutilizing Mike Tolbert — all kinds of different things. We’re out of that, the past is in the past, and we’re moving forward. Coach Shula’s going to change things up, and that’s what’s happened so far.
No doubt, Smith’s statements raise some serious accusations that Chudzinski won’t touch with a ten foot pole. But, I do think that it is interesting to hear about coordinators and auditioning. How often does something like this go on? Is it really necessary? Do most or even all coordinators tailor their performances to get to the “next job”?
There have been countless coordinators that have gone on to be head coaches. In fact, it is easier to count how many head coaches came from positions other than “defensive” or “offensive coordinator”. Any one of these hires could have been “cute” or “making a statement” in order to show an owner or general manager that they have the aptitude and instinct to be a head coach. We never question how the men who get these positions impress their future employers, we just accept that the owner or general manager “did their homework.”
But, being a coach and talking with anyone outside of the team will always involve misdirection and smoke screens. Coaches do it to promote their players, why wouldn’t they do it to promote themselves? It is so easy to find other explanations for football plays and schemes, even when watching it real time can be so black and white. Coaches throw out cliches like “going with the hot hand” or that they found a “weakness on tape”. That does not mean anyone is being accused of lying. I’m just saying lying is a part of football.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Smith is angry at Chudzinski. Rob did enough to show he would be a great head coach. Time will tell whether the Browns were right but regardless of that outcome we will never know if his time in Carolina was his first “audition”.