The Carolina Panthers have “parted ways” with head coach Ron Rivera. The move was announced Tuesday afternoon by owner David Tepper through the team’s website. Secondary coach Perry Fewell has been named as the interim head coach in Rivera’s place.
The actual decision to part ways with Rivera isn’t very surprising. In fact, most of us assumed it would happen at the end of the season after Tepper spoke to the media a few weeks ago and said he would not tolerate ‘sustained mediocrity’.
Rivera led the team to three winning seasons in his eight and a half years as head coach of the Panthers. His 76-63-1 and record since 2011 proved to be insufficient in the eyes of Tepper.
This will mark Fewell’s second stint as an interim head coach in the NFL. He was the interim head coach for the Buffalo Bills for part of the 2009 season. He has yet to hold that position full time for any team. Norv Turner will step up for the Panthers as special assistant to the head coach while Scott Turner is being promoted to the role of offensive coordinator.
Obviously, there will be more changes within the Panthers organization as the season winds down. One change that is not immediately indicated by their current moves is the firing of general manager Marty Hurney. The Panthers press release announcing Rivera’s departure also mentions hiring an assistant general manager and new vice president of football operations.
The rest of this season could be seen as an audition for Fewell and the younger Turner. It could be one for Hurney as well. These could also simply be part time positions to keep the franchise limping along until Tepper has the opportunity to make more complete decisions regarding the current front office and staff. Only time will tell if Hurney will still have an opportunity to keep his job—and have any input on the Panthers impending coaching search.