Power Outage: Stingley Fired One Game Into 2014 Season
It isn't all that often that we see a head coach in any league get fired after just one game, but on Friday, it was announced by Pittsburgh's TribLIVE.com that the Pittsburgh Power have hired Ron James to be their third head coach in franchise history.
As of this hour, Derek Stingley is still listed as the head coach of the Power on the team's website, and the AFL has yet to make any announcements of the sorts. However, with the Power on their bye week this week, this is a move which makes a ton of sense.
Stingley was a fantastic player in the AFL, posting 19 picks in his time with the Albany Firebirds and other franchises in his career. However, he really just hasn't proven that he can coach at this level. The Chicago native went 1-11 in his first year coaching with the New Orleans VooDoo in 2011 before he was replaced by Jon Norris, who was the team's general manager at the time. Stingley became the defensive coordinator for the Power in 2012, but he was ultimately promoted to the head coach position when Chris Siegfried was fired. Pittsburgh finished that season going 3-5 in its last eight games, a record which was good enough for him to be retained for 2013.
The 2013 season was a disaster for Pittsburgh, and most questioned owner Matt Shaner and the rest of the Power front office for keeping Stingley following his 4-14 season. However, the logic in the Steel City is that the talent really wasn't there for the team to thrive, and in fairness to Stingley, he never really had even a remotely decent quarterback to work with either in New Orleans or in Pittsburgh.
That all changed this year. The Power added Tommy Grady and Aaron LeSue through the dispersal draft, and then they traded for Prechae Rodriguez from the Orlando Predators. Those are three tremendous offensive weapons to have at one's disposal, yet last weekend, the Power fell apart in the second half against the Cleveland Gladiators. They coughed up a 17-point lead in the second half, including going four straight drives without a touchdown in the third and fourth quarters before scoring a touchdown with 0:47 left in the game that proved to be elementary in a 63-53 setback.
Apparently, that was enough to get dismissed. In comes James, who does have a lot of ties to these players dressed in black and gold. Grady and LeSue were both with James in Utah the last two seasons. The coaching change clearly won't be a seamless move, knowing that James is either going to have to retain all of the Pittsburgh assistants or try to hire an entirely new staff. Both of his lead assistants from last season though, Matt Sauk and Rob Keefe are already head coaches in the AFL for the Portland Thunder and the Orlando Predators respectively.
Of course, there are some questions about James as well that certainly beg to be asked. He has gone 42-50 in his seven years as a head coach in the AFL, and he has only made the playoffs once in those campaigns. He now comes to Pittsburgh, where the Power haven't made the playoffs in franchise history and are desperate to do so this season.
The only example in professional football which ArenaFan has found of a coach being fired this early in a season was with the 1994 Shreveport Pirates of the CFL. John Huard was fired during the team's training camp and never coached a regular season game. Last season in the CFL, Dan Hawkins was fired by the Montreal Alouettes five games into the season.
Interestingly enough, Stingley has been involved in the last three coaching changes which have been made by teams in the middle of seasons. He was fired this season, was the man who replaced Siegfried in the middle of 2012, and fired from the VooDoo in 2011.
Pittsburgh is on bye in Week 2. It will face the San Jose SaberCats next Saturday in Week 3.
ArenaFan's Tim Capper helped with the compilation of this report.
Listen to our interview conducted with Power Head Coach Ron James