Unknown at the time to the contractual participants, a promise was made sometime around 1994 that would ultimately land Sherman Smith at his current home and occupation in Washington D.C. as Your Offensive Coordinator. Or so says The Times:
Zorn and Smith became close friends. So close that 12 years after they were last teammates they promised each other that whoever was the first to become a head coach would hire the other as offensive coordinator.
"I have tremendous admiration for Sherman," Zorn said. "He's a man of solid character. You want to be like him because of the way he lives, the way he approaches people. Sherman's walk aligns with his talk."
First things first, the phrase "walk aligns with his talk" aligns with yours truly and I appreciate that kind of word smithery. Expect to see that turn used often from here on out.
And Zorn, having made an agreement twelve years after he and Smith were teammates (1982 + 12 = 1994, see title), made sure that his walk also aligned with his talk when he hired Smith as our O-Coordinator this season. Interesting it worked out that way, since last season it was Smith (not Zorn) who had the loftier title of Assistant-Head Coach.
Steve Largent on the coaching couple, and then I'll stop pilfering from the Times article in the hopes you'll read it in its entirety (you should):
"It's unusual, but it's genuine," Largent said of Zorn and Smith's longstanding friendship. "Sherman and Jim are both such quality guys. We shared a love for football, a love for life and a common faith. It really comes down to who Jim is and who Sherman is. Sherman's a very smart guy. He could have done anything, but he chose to be a coach."
How am I supposed to spin this? My initial reaction was the opposite of comfort, as I don't necessarily embrace the idea that our offensive coordinator is there in virtue of a handshake between friends. That said, his resume speaks for itself, I suppose. As far as I can tell, he's never been an offensive coordinator, but that hardly disqualifies him. Afterall, Coach Zorn has never been a head coach.
The other direction I'd go is to herald the long-standing relationship between the two men as something to be honored in a sport that, perhaps, has become too much of a cold, uncaring business than it should. Nepotism by familial connections runs wild in the coaching world so I say, why not nepotism by shared history and genuine bonds of friendship?
And I really care not what procedure led to Sherman Smith getting hired. If it was Coach Zorn taking a chance on his friend or if it was the coaching staff making an objective decision based on the coaches available and their respective resumes, results speak. If it doesn't work out, it will have been a bad idea. If the team wins 10+ games next year, Zorn will be a genius and Smith will be praised as a success.
Maybe there is something to hiring a friend from the old days to help you run the offense. The two are obviously familiar with each other's coaching (and personal/life) philosophies. This would tend to encourage a unity many commenters, myself included, found lacking in the politically arranged, perhaps loveless marriage of Gibbs and Saunders that worked ok, I suppose, but never convinced me the two were on the same page book. I have a hard time believing that Smith and Zorn will suffer similarly from an apparent philosophical disagreement (though this could just mean that if they fail, they'll do so together -- let's hope not).
Note to self: Find successful friends and begin making promises with them conditioned on hirings should they succeed in life. It could pay dividends next decade.