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Bill Cowher sounds off against Colts hiring Jeff Saturday: ‘What happened in Indianapolis is a travesty’

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The Colts hiring Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach turned a lot of heads this week. His lack of experience in addition to his relative lack of involvement with the organization (he was hired as a consultant ahead of this season) has led to a lot of controversy and discussion around the circumstances that led to Jim Irsay hiring him.

That conversation came to a head Sunday, ahead of Saturday’s debut against the Raiders in Las Vegas. On the “NFL on CBS” pregame show, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher railed against the Colts for hiring Saturday with other names like Gus Bradley in the building for Indianapolis.

After detailing his coaching journey, Cowher talked about his time as a head coach.

“Blessed to be able to go to Pittsburgh and be a head coach at the age of 34 for 15 years,” he said. “I’m speaking on behalf of the coaching profession.

“I know for a fact Jeff Saturday was offered an opportunity to become an assistant coach for the Indianapolis Colts multiple times in the last four years. He declined … I get it. Coaching is about commitment and about sacrifice. It’s not just a job. It’s a lifestyle.”

MORE: Joe Thomas slams Colts for Jeff Saturday hire: ‘Most egregious thing I can ever remember’

Cowher then went on to talk about Saturday’s new role within the organization this year.

“Jeff Saturday has taken a position this year as a consultant for the Indianapolis Colts. He’s talked to them weekly, from his home in Atlanta. Now to find out on Monday in that short period of time he’s now the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, overseeing a staff that he chose not to [join] because of the lifestyle.”

It was when Cowher got to Saturday’s reasoning for taking the job that he got truly upset. In a press conference earlier this week, Saturday had said he was using his interim position as a test run of sorts for himself at the NFL level.

“I say to that: ‘What about the assistants on the staff right now?’ … Guys like Gus Bradley. Scottie Montgomery. John Fox … For an owner to hire a coach who’s never been an assistant at the college level or the pro level … It’s a disgrace to the coaching profession. And regardless of how this thing plays out? What happened in Indianapolis was a travesty.”

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Cowher’s words are strong, although if they apply to anyone, it’s likely Montgomery. Bradley and Fox have both had head coaching jobs, so if the Colts didn’t want to hire them again it was their prerogative. Montgomery, meanwhile, has been the team’s running backs coach since 2021, although this is just his second year at the pro level. He does have head coaching experience at East Carolina from 2016-18. 

The Colts are 3-5-1 this season, second in the toiling AFC South, and they went 40-33-1 in the regular season with Frank Reich at the helm. The Saturday experiment may work or it may be a disaster. But regardless of how this thing plays out, it will be an interesting experiment in how NFL coaching candidates are evaluated.


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