W roundtable: 'Tis the season for unemployment?

Although coaching has never been a career known for its job security, this has been a particularly rough week for football's head honchos. With the likes of Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars), Paul Wulff (Washington State), Dennis Erickson (Arizona State), Mike Sherman (Texas A&M) and Ron Zook (Illinois) being sent out the door with their cardboard cartons, we got to thinking: Is it better to be fired before or after the holidays? espnW's contributors weigh in.

Wait wait, don't tell me ... until January

By Amanda Rykoff

This week's spate of fired coaches was like Cyber Monday gone horribly wrong -- "Fire one coach, fire the second one at half off!" "Free shipping! Free returns!" It's no fun to lose your job, no matter when during the year that takes place. But to me this is a no-brainer. Whether you're a head football coach or middle manager at a Fortune 500 company, it's much better to be fired after the holidays.

Fired before the holidays? You're home with the family, answering questions, stressing out about the future. Instead of enjoying time around the Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush -- not that we ever had one of those), you're submitting resumes, sending emails and following up leads that will likely go unanswered until after the New Year. December is probably the worst time to be looking for a job. Budgets are spent and there's no new head count.

But after the New Year? Opportunities become available. Hiring managers are back from vacation. You can enjoy the time with the family. You're not worried about your job prospects. You can enjoy the vacation you planned months ago. You're still eligible for your bonus. These are all good things.

Let the bad news wait until after the New Year. Unless you're a football or hockey coach. In which case calendars mean nothing. It's just wins, losses and the fact that you lost to your crosstown rival 50-0.

Channeling Norv Turner

By Sarah Spain

If I'm Chargers coach Norv Turner, I want out NOW. My team is mired in a six-game losing streak and the midseason magic that prompted some to dub this month "Norv-ember" in past years is nowhere to be found for this trip around the sun. If I stay on with my sad-sack team I'm scheduled to spend Christmas Eve day in Detroit (yeah, Detroit) and usher in the New Year in Oakland (yeah, Oakland). But if the Chargers go ahead and dump me now, I'll take my millions and spend the holidays with my family. I'll be spared the pain of trying to explain my inexplicable game and clock management decisions (trust me, even I don't know what I'm doing most of the time) and I'll have some time to start campaigning for the Bears' offensive coordinator gig, which will open up at the end of this season.

However, if I'm Sarah Spain, then I want to hang on to my gig 'til the very last day. Gotta keep that paycheck coming for as long as possible, 'cause mama hasn't even started her Christmas shopping!

Don't string me along

By Jane McManus

Fired before or after the holidays? This is such a great topic, because who doesn't love being fired? The awkward phone call with your soon-to-be-ex boss, the questions about severance for keeping health insurance through Cobra, running your resume through spell check, the crying. The key for me is whether I know I'm about to get the boot. If I know, fire me early, because I can't stand the tension. If I don't know, let me collect the paycheck as long as possible.

That said, please don't fire me. I work really hard and I like my job. I think outside the box! Fire Sarah Spain instead. She is a total slacker.

Be a bad breaker-upper, Rick Neuheisel

By Adena Andrews

Anyone who has ever been laid off, fired or unemployed dreads one question: "What's next?" The question seems to come whenever family members gather for the holidays. Who wants to be grilled about an uncertain future while eating the Christmas ham? Therefore, if I were a coach, I would rather be fired after the holiday season. That way, I'd be able to just casually pass the cranberry sauce and chat about Aunt Shelly's new hip at dinner, while my job would be of no concern. Ignorance is bliss; therefore I'll keep my holidays as blissfully oblivious as possible.

Of course, we can't all be so lucky to be fired after the holiday season. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who was fired earlier this week, will coach the Pac-12 toilet bowl championship game against Oregon, where he may be humiliated in another blowout. Although I'm a Trojan, I feel bad for UCLA's lame duck coach. Most folks don't want to go to work, and they certainly don't want to go when they know they're already fired. To make the best of a bad situation, I suggest Neuheisel don a cardinal-and-gold USC sweatshirt and strip it off at game's end.

Colin Firth and Keira Knightley to the rescue

By Melissa Jacobs

Say you get fired from your job next week. Although the glass-half-full sympathy play would be to say, "At least you have the holidays the get you through," I say absolutely not. Holiday time is the worst time to be newly jobless.

First, you have to deal with an inherent confidence drop. Even if everyone around you is annoyingly certain your next opportunity is around the corner, until you hear "You're hired!," your self-esteem is going to take a hit. I don't care if you're Jack Del Rio, who presumably saved millions of dollars living in Jacksonville (gosh, I hope so), or me who has saved, well, just slightly less.

But you know what can cheer you up? Happy, smiley people everywhere singing carols, pretending for one month that we live in a utopian world. Or how about those family members who will go beyond generic support and incessantly nag you about 100 jobs on LinkedIn, forcing you to explain one by one why they don't actually match your skill set. (Just because I wanted to be a sports agent in college doesn't mean I'm qualified to do so now, Aunt Edna.) Even if you were to find a good match, it's not like human resources departments are exactly abuzz in December. Then there's the big stinger: Missing out on your company holiday party and subsequently realizing the party cost more than your yearly salary.

Here's my prescription for those who get fired before the holidays: Sequester self in bedroom with several bottles of Brunello. Watch "Love Actually" on a loop. Open door on January 2.

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