“I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community,” owner David Tepper said in a press release. “I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”
The shakeup also will see offensive coordinator Norv Turner transition to special assistant to the head coach as quarterbacks coach Scott Turner moves to offensive coordinator.
Rivera became just the fourth head coach in Panthers history when he was hired in 2011. He went on to amass a 76-63-1 regular season record, a 3-4 playoff record, and, most notably, a Super Bowl appearance. The Panthers did not win it all under Rivera’s watch, but he was a beloved figure nonetheless.
Midway through a trying season, the Panthers opted for a change.
“We are going to take a comprehensive and thorough review of our football operation to make sure we are structured for long-term sustained success,” said Tepper. “Our vision is to find the right mix of old-school discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes. We will consider a wide range of football executives to complement our current football staff. One change that we will implement is hiring an assistant general manager and vice president of football operations. We all must recognize that this is the first step in a process, but we are committed to building and maintaining a championship culture for our team and our fans.”
Rivera was one of the major faces of the franchise, alongside one-time MVP quarterback Cam Newton. After the dust settles from the sideline shakeup, it’s quite possible that the QB will also follow him out the door. Newton is among the league’s most dangerous and electrifying signal callers when healthy, but he has been sidelined all year and is now far removed from his best work.
For the time being, Newton and GM Marty Hurney are still in the picture. Rivera, meanwhile, stands as one of the most respected defensive minds in the NFL and could easily find work elsewhere, if he wants to continue coaching.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.