Picking a New Head Coach
7 of the NFL’s 32 head coaches will be replaced next season. Of the 7 head coaches hired this off season, 4 were former NFL assistants who have never been a head coach in the NFL, 2 are making their first NFL head coaching stint out of college and one is recycled from a former head coaching job. The big question is, what background makes a successful head coach? In order to answer the question I did some research…
Since 2000 there have been 109 head coaching changes. 31 (28%) had NFL head coach experience, 66 (61%) were taking their first NFL head coaching job after being an assistant, 14 (13%) came from college teams. (Pete Carrol and Dennis Erikson count as both college and prior NFL head coaching experience.)
Of those coaches there are 12 Super Bowl champions. 7 (58%) were won by coaches who had previous head coaching experience, 5 (42%) were former assistants in their first head coaching job, and none came from college.
33 of the 109 coaches made the playoffs in more then half of their seasons as head coaches. 12 (36%) were recycles, 16 (48%) were first year former assistants, 5 came from college (15%).
As for the busts…
36 coaches never made a playoff appearance. 11 (30.5%) were recycles, 19 (53%) were making in their first head coaching job, 7 (19.5%) came from college.
|Recycled Head Coach||Former Assistant||College|
|Super Bowl % (difference from total)||58 (+30)||42 (-19)||0 (-13)|
|50% Playoff % (diff. from total)||36 (+8)||48 (-13)||15 (+2)|
|0 Playoff % (diff. from total)||31 (+3)||48 (-13)||15 (+3)|
Here’s what those numbers tell us:
The best chance of finding a coach who is a winner is to look for an old head coach, while the safest bet to avoid a bust is to hire a former assistant. College coaches may turn heads more then the other two categories, but statistically they are the worst option when it comes to hiring head coaches in this era of football.