Make us your home page

Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Promoting an assistant after a firing? Rare for NFL teams

Former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was gone after three seasons and a 17-31 record.

Times files (2011)

Former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was gone after three seasons and a 17-31 record.



As NFL teams continue to fill their head coach openings -- three in the past day -- and the Bucs contemplate their own options, we looked back over 75 head-coaching changes since the end of the 2005 season and how the league finds its biggest hires.

Should the Bucs promote offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to replace Lovie Smith, they would choose one of the rarest options -- in the past decade, only three times has a team promoted an assistant in the offseason after firing a head coach. It's four if you can Ben McAdoo, reportedly to be promoted as the Giants head coach. We'll get to their success -- or lackthereof -- in a bit.

The majority of NFL head coach hires -- 43 of 75 in the past decade, or 57 percent -- are assistant coaches plucked away from other teams, including 38 who were coordinators for other teams.

This group includes four coaches who have won Super Bowls in the last 10 years -- Baltimore's Jim Harbaugh, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, New Orleans' Sean Payton and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. The group also accounts for six of the eight head coaches still alive in the playoffs -- Tomlin, McCarthy, New England's Bill Belichick, Denver's Gary Kubiak, Carolina's Ron Rivera and Arizona's Bruce Arians.

The next most common group is out-of-work former NFL head coaches -- 10 hires fit this profile, most of which resulted in no playoff appearances, including the Bucs and Smith. The most successful model is probably John Fox, who made the playoffs all four years in Denver, including a loss in the Super Bowl, only to become another such hire with Chicago this past season.

There have been eight NFL hires who were most recently college head coaches -- the most successful of these is Seattle's Pete Carroll, who won a Super Bowl, lost another and has won at least 10 games in four straight seasons. But of the other seven, four (including the Bucs' Greg Schiano) were gone within two seasons and only one -- Houston's Bill O'Brien -- remains with the team that hired him. 

Promotions from within are more common when a firing takes place midseason and an assistant is named interim coach, showing enough to earn the job full-time -- that's happened five times, with Dallas' Jason Garrett as the best model of the group.

But back to the three offseason in-house promotions after a firing -- you have the Bucs and Raheem Morris, gone after three seasons and a 17-31 record, Oakland and Hue Jackson, gone after one 8-8 season, and Tennessee and Mike Munchak, gone after three seasons and a 22-26 record. So in the rare instance that a team does promote from within after a firing, that new coach hasn't lasted more than three years or left with a winning record.

The Bucs -- meaning the Glazer family -- are hard to profile, in that their hires have come from all of the different groups -- trading for a current head coach in Jon Gruden, hiring a former head coach in Smith, a college coach in Schiano and promoting an assistant in Morris. None of the last four have worked out as planned, so it's hard to know what they'll turn back to this time around.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2016 3:49pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours