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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Three kinds of coaching hires



So far, the Bucs' search for a new head coach has led them down two paths. One, the retread -- coaches with previous NFL head coaching experience such as Mike Sherman, Marty Schottenheimer, Wade Phillips and Brad Childress. The other path is NFL assistants such as the Titans' Jerry Gray and Bengals' Mike Zimmer. The Bucs really haven't explored college coaches. It's probably a smart move as you will see.

So how does all this fit with recent NFL history? Well, let's go back to the start of the 2000 season. Since then, a new coach has been named 83 times not counting interim coaches who only finished a season and were not retained. Of those 83 hires, 49 went from being NFL assistants to first-time head coaches. There were 26 who had previously coached NFL teams. And there were eight who coached in college the previous season. Some coaches fit in more than one category more than one time. Here's a look at the three categories.

By far, the most popular hire with 49. There have been complete and utter failures. Think Scott Linehan (Rams), Mike Nolan (49ers), Rod Marinelli (Lions) and, of course, Raheem Morris (Bucs). But there are plenty of successes. Super Bowl winners Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Mike McCarthy (Packers) and Sean Payton (Saints) went from an assistant to head coach. Jim Caldwell (Colts), Lovie Smith (Bears), Bill Callahan (Raiders), John Fox (formerly with the Panthers) and Ken Whisenhunt (Cardinals) made the Super Bowl with their first team. Of this season's 12 playoff teams, eight are being run by former assistants in their first head coaching job: Tomlin, McCarthy, Payton, John Harbaugh (Ravens), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Gary Kubiak (Texans), Mike Smith (Falcons) and Jim Schwartz (Lions).

Not the most flattering nickname and not always accurate. Take Jon Gruden. He had previous head coaching experience and was no castoff. The Bucs actually traded for him. Since 2000, 26 coaches with previous NFL head coaching experience have been hired for another bite at the apple, including Super Bowl winners Gruden, Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Tony Dungy. Of those, only Belichick, 36-44 with the Browns before winning three titles with the Patriots, could be considered a failure in his first job. Coughlin, Dungy and Gruden had success with their first teams. A very general rule of thumb: If a coach had little or no success in his first job (Dick Jauron, Chan Gailey, Eric Mangini), he has little or none in his next one. If he had previous success (Bill Parcells, Marty Schottenheimer, Dick Vermeil, Dungy, Gruden), he has some in his next job.

Based on recent history, it's a spectacularly bad idea to hire a college coach. Since 2000, eight coaches went from coaching college to being an NFL head coach. That includes Lane Kiffin, who went from being a college assistant to coaching the Raiders. Two had previous head coaching experience in the NFL: Pete Carroll and Dennis Erickson. The others were first-time NFL head coaches: Nick Saban, Butch Davis, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino and Jim Harbaugh. Of the eight, Harbaugh is the only one with a winning NFL record, going 13-3 in 2011 -- his only season. One more stat: Of the 28 coaches who have won Super Bowls, only Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer went from a college team directly to becoming a head coach and winning a Super Bowl with the team that hired him.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:50am]


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