Tony Dungy was selected for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Dungy is the 23rd head coach selected to the Hall of Fame: among that group, he ranks 12th in wins with 139, 9th in winning percentage at .668, and 7th in wins over .500. Those are all impressive numbers, given the sample; the “worst” mark on his resume would be the lone championship, which places him in the bottom six among Hall of Fame coaches (John Madden and Sid Gillman each won one; George Allen, Marv Levy, and Bud Grant won zero titles).
Dungy entered the league in 1996. Excluding Bill Belichick, who is clearly the best coach of this era, where does Dungy rank among the other Super Bowl-winning head coaches? Is he the best choice for the Hall of Fame among this group?
Statistically speaking…. yes. Dungy ranks 5th in wins among this group, but first in winning percentage (in fact, his winning percentage is even higher than Belichick’s!). Perhaps most importantly, he ranks first in wins over .500, which blends raw wins and winning percentage. Coughlin and Shanahan have two rings, but both have combined to win just 52 games more than they have lost; Dungy himself is at +70.
|Coach||W||L||T||Win%||Win ov .500||PW||PL||Pwin%||Pwov.500|
In the playoffs? That’s a different story. Among Super Bowl-winning head coaches since 1996, Dungy is the only one with a losing record. That’s a pretty big negative. On the other hand, 9-10 isn’t appreciably different from McCarthy, Tomlin, Vermeil, Gruden, Holmgren, Shanahan, or Payton.
Dungy was not good in the playoffs, but that’s true of other great coaches. Paul Brown — yes, that Paul Brown — went 9-8 with better teams. In addition to Levy, Grant, and Allen (the three Hall of Fame coaches without championships), guys like Shula and Gillman have pretty uneven playoff records, too.
What I think carried the day for Dungy was — unknowingly, of course — his success in the Dungy Index. You can read more about what that measures at that link, but here were his yearly results:
|Year||Team||Exp. Wins||W||Win Over Exp|
Year after year, his Colts avoided regressing to the mean, much like Belichick’s Patriots. Consistently keeping a team that far above average is obviously a lot easier with the greatest quarterback of all time, but you won’t find many Hall of Fame coaches that didn’t have great quarterbacks. If you want to say that Dungy shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame because he had Peyton Manning and only won one championship, that’s fine.
But winning multiple championships is obviously not a prerequisite. And among coaches that won only one — or zero — titles, Dungy’s record does stick out as pretty remarkable. Winning over 2/3s of your games is pretty much an automatic pass to the Hall of Fame: every coach with at least 90 wins that has done that is in the Hall. Drop it to 50 games, and the only coach not in there is Blanton Collier, who like Dungy, only won one title. But he coached only one team — the stacked Cleveland Browns — and coached for only 8 years. Given Dungy’s success with multiple teams, he seems like a pretty good Hall of Fame choice.