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Pre-vacancy Rooney Rule interviews don’t work for coaching jobs

On Saturday, we reported that the Redskins already have interviewed defensive coordinator Greg Blache for the head-coaching position currently held by Jim Zorn. Later in the day, Jason Reid of the Washington Post, after duly dropping a D.C. Steamer on our Blache report, wrote that secondary coach Jerry Gray has been interviewed for the head-coaching position.

Regardless of whether either or both report is accurate (we stand by our Blache report, and we’ve heard rumblings that Gray was also interviewed), the Redskins won’t be able to pull the 114-minute presto-change-o with Zorn and his successor by pre-complying with the Rooney Rule, which requires at least one interview of a minority candidate for every head-coaching vacancy.

The key word, as it relates to coaching jobs, is “vacancy.”

“The rule presumes a vacancy,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told us via e-mail.

In other words, interviews of minority candidate(s) conducted before the coaching job is open don’t count.

So how were the Redskins able to pre-comply with the Rooney Rule before Vinny Cerrato resigned as executive V.P. of football operations?

“The current rule as it applies to GMs is not as specific as for head coaches,” Aiello said. “We will review it going forward to determine whether modifications are warranted.”

To put it less tactfully, the Redskins found a loophole when it came to making the switch from Cerrato to Bruce Allen. But that same path won’t be available to the Redskins when it comes to Zorn; they have to comply with the Rooney Rule after the head-coaching job has come open.

Though it might be easy to satisfy the requirement by having Blache and/or Gray return for a “do you still want the job?” follow-up session, there’s a chance that Blache and/or Gray eventually will decide not to participate in a sham process -- just like Redskins play-caller Sherm Lewis did nearly seven years ago, when the Lions dumped Marty Mornhinweg with the sole intent of hiring Steve Mariucci.