Twenty-four hours ago, Jeff Saturday’s highest coaching experience came with Hebron Christian Academy, a Class AAA Georgia high school football team, compiling a 20-16 record over three years with the program.
His next coaching assignment? To finish out the 2022 NFL season as the interim head coach of the Colts.
“Shocked would be an understatement,” Saturday said at Monday’s press conference about owner Jim Irsay reaching out about the possibility if becoming interim head coach. “We had the conversation, and it escalated quickly.”
Jeff Saturday says he asked Jim Irsay “Why am I a candidate for this?”
This press conference is pure gold.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) November 8, 2022
Indianapolis made the not-so-surprising decision to fire head coach Frank Reich on Monday after the Colts dropped to 3-5-1 on the year with a 26-3 loss to the Patriots. The team currently has one of the worst offenses in the league and have fallen further down the AFC South standings, despite the expectation that they would contend for the division.
What took fans aback was the unique direction the team decided to go in replacing Reich. Irsay and GM Chris Ballard elected not to hire either current staff members Gus Bradley or John Fox for the role, despite both having previously been NFL head coaches. Instead, they went with Saturday, a former Colts center and ESPN analyst.
MORE: Why Frank Reich got fired in a rare Colts midseason coaching change
Yes, he is fully experienced enough. Yes, he is fully capable. You want to bet against this guy? Put your money down, people.
“He’s the best man for the job, there’s no doubt about it,” Irsay added later on when asked why Saturday was chosen over other guys on the staff.
“We don’t build rockets to go to Mars,” Irsay said. “It’s a very simple job we do here.”
On paper, the lack of NFL coaching experience from Saturday should be a concern for the Colts. It’s the first time since Van Brocklin was hired by the Vikings in 1961 that a coach was brought in for the head coaching job without having any prior time holding the position on a professional level.
Not only does Irsay not see an issue with it, he thinks it will be beneficial for the former Indianapolis center, who isn’t jaded by analytics, which the league has heavily leaned into.
MORE: Remembering Jeff Saturday’s last time calling plays for Colts
“I’m glad (Saturday) hasn’t had the NFL experience,” Irsay said at the press conference. “He doesn’t have that fear. We were very fortunate he was available. He has tons of experience. He knows this game inside and out.”
The hiring of Saturday doesn’t come completely out of left field. Not only did he spend 13 years with the program as a player, but according to the Colts, Saturday has acted as a “consultant” for a few years. Ballard even said that the team tried to hire Saturday to their coaching staff twice in the past.
While Irsay’s vote of confidence in Saturday was made clear on Monday, the interim coach is only on an eight-game trial.
Saturday said he feels “fully capable” and “excited about the opportunity” in front of him, but added he has no preconceived notions that his tenure as interim head coach is actually going to go well.
Once the season ends, the Colts will have to conduct a full search for their next head coach, according to the NFL’s Rooney Rule. Irsay did say that Saturday would be considered for the full-time role at season’s end.
“I’ve got to earn it,” Saturday said in regards to winning over the locker room and coaching staff. “We’re all on trial basis. There’s only one person whose job is secure and that’s (Irsay).”