Sean Pendergast

The Historical 2020-2021 Sports Management Turnover in Houston

Bill O'Brien is the one departed member of Houston sports management who vacated two positions at once.
Bill O'Brien is the one departed member of Houston sports management who vacated two positions at once. Photo by Eric Sauseda
There are plenty of reminders of just how wild a sports year it's been in Houston with respect to attrition in sports. J.J. Watt's departure last week was just the latest instance of a star player leaving, but it was Jamey Rootes' departure as president of the team two days before that that got me thinking — man, we've seen a ton of folks leave in MANAGEMENT positions as well, whether it's leaving of their own volition (like Rootes), or being asked to leave (like several others).

In fact, if you want a barometer for how crazy it's been, consider that Dusty Baker, hired January 29 of last year, is the longest tenured employee of any head coach/manager or general manager among the three major teams in town. That's wild! So let's take a deeper dive, and examine the four biggest management roles with any of the sports teams — head coach, general manager, team president, and owner — and see what the tenures are for each one, and more importantly, what the future holds.

Here we go:

ASTROS: Dusty Baker, 2020
REPLACED: A,J, Hinch (FIRED, sign stealing scandal)
THE FUTURE: Baker has one year left on his deal. I could see the Astros going in a different direction, regardless of how 2021 plays out, with the team likely getting younger over the next few years, not older.

ROCKETS: Stephen Silas, 2020 (MDA, contract expired)
REPLACED: Mike D'Antoni (CONTRACT EXPIRED, following 2020 playoffs)
THE FUTURE: Silas is one of the bright young coaches in the league, and is hardly to blame for the Rockets' slow start. He is the perfect age and demeanor for a rebuild.

TEXANS: David Culley, 2021
REPLACED: Bill O'Brien (FIRED, Week 4 of 2020 season)
THE FUTURE: Culley is a placeholder for the next head coach, who is hopefully overseeing a far less dysfunctional, and a far less Easterby-influenced organization.

ASTROS: James Click, 2020
REPLACED: Jeff Luhnow (FIRED, sign stealing scandal)
THE FUTURE: Click was brought in for the modified rebuild/reload that the Astros hope takes place over the next couple years. The Astros can still contend if things break right in 2021, but either way, Click's job is secure.

ROCKETS: Rafael Stone, 2020
REPLACED: Daryl Morey (MUTUAL PARTING, signed with Philly two weeks later)
THE FUTURE: Stone was an internal promotion, and has done a nice job of salvaging the James Harden situation. He has several more moves to make over the rest of 2021, but he is secure in his role.

TEXANS: Nick Caserio, 2021
REPLACED: Bill O'Brien (FIRED, Week 4 of 2020 season)
THE FUTURE: Caserio has a six-year contract, and the undying love of Cal McNair... which means, at some point, Jack Easterby will probably stab him in the back and get him canned.

ASTROS: Jared Crane, 2019
REPLACED: Reid Ryan (REASSIGNED, no longer with organization)
THE FUTURE: He is the son of the owner. That is all.

ROCKETS: Tad Brown, 2006
REPLACED: Whoever it was, it was before Twitter, so does it matter?
THE FUTURE: Brown is basically a Rockets lifer, and by far the most tenured person in his role of anybody on this list. He is also in charge of Toyota Center. Business-wise, it's been a great run under Brown's watch with the Rockets.

TEXANS: Greg Grissom, 2021
REPLACED: Jamey Rootes (RESIGNED, due to Jack Easterby)
THE FUTURE: He just took over for Rootes last week, and will be considered for the permanent role amidst a nationwide search.

ASTROS: Jim Crane, 2011
REPLACED: Drayton McLane
THE FUTURE: Widely regarded as the best of the current owners because of a World Series title and substantial investment in the roster. This, despite the sign stealing scandal and his horrific attempt at an apology for it.

ROCKETS: Tilman Fertitta, 2017
REPLACED: Les Alexander
THE FUTURE: It appears as though Tilman's son, Patrick, is being groomed to run the team, as reports throughout the Harden ordeal had him very involved in talks behind the scenes with Harden and his reps.

TEXANS: Cal McNair, 2018
THE FUTURE: Man, this one is complicated. I mean, the McNairs are going to own the team. I don't see them selling, but Cal has to get his house in order, or he is going to continue to lose fans in droves.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast