From 1990 to 2013, 159 new head coaches were hired. Twelve of them were given full-time coaching duties after a successful stint as interim head coach.1
For the other 147 coaches, I grouped them into seven buckets based on the title they held in the season immediately preceding the year they were named head coach:2: Retread (indicating that this was not the first NFL head coaching job for the newly hired head coach), Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, College Head Coach, Quarterbacks coach, Offensive Line coach, and Other.
As you can see, the retread approach was the most popular, offensive and defensive coordinators were the next targets, while college coaches filled only 10% of the vacancies:
If we look at just coaching hires since 2000, little changes. Retreads are still in the lead at 32.2%, and offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators are tied at 23.0%. If we change the cut-off to 2005, then offensive coordinators jump into the lead at 28.3%, followed by retreads (26.4%), and defensive coaches (18.9%). College coaches remain at around 10% in both the “since 2000″ and “since 2005″ groups.
If we examine just the last three coaching cycles — 2011, 2012, and 2013 — we see that 6 jumped from OC to head coach, while there were four each in the “Retread”, “DC”, and “College” categories.
We can also investigate the retread category. In 21 of the 54 instances, the head coach was not in the NFL the prior season. Usually this means the coach was sitting the year out (or appearing on TV), although three of them (Pete Carroll, Dennis Erickson, and Jack Pardee) were college head coaches (but still get labeled as retreads).3 In five instances, the retread was actually a coordinator for the team that promoted him to head coach: Dave Wannstedt (DC for the 1999 Dolphins), Wade Phillips (DC for the 1997 Bills), Joe Bugel (OC for the 1996 Raiders), Lindy Infante (OC for the 1995 Colts), and Wade Phillips (DC for the 1992 Broncos).
A retread was about as likely to be out of coaching as to have been a head coach in the prior season, as 19 men were head coaches in the season immediately before being hired.4 The remaining nine coaches were coordinators give another chance. Four retreads were able to rebuild their reputations as defensive wizards: Wade Phillips was hired in Dallas in 2007 after his work as the Chargers DC in 2006, Bill Belichick went from Jets DC in 1999 to Patriots head coach in 2000, Pete Carroll went from 49ers DC in 1996 to Patriots head coach in 1997, and Buddy Ryan went from Oilers
disaster DC in 1993 to Cardinals head coach in 1994. Five men pulled off the same trick on the offensive side of the ball: Mike Mularkey from Falcons OC in 2011 to Jaguars HC in 2012, Norv Turner from 49ers OC in 2006 to Chargers HC in 2007, um… Norv Turner from Dolphins OC in 2003 to Raiders HC in 2004, Mike Shanahan from 49ers OC in 1994 to Denver HC in 1995, and Ted Marchibroda from Bills OC in 1991 to Indianapolis HC in 1992.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget to discuss the seven coaches in the “Other” bin. Let’s turn it into some trivia questions.
1) One coach was hired out of the Canadian Football League.
2) This coach came from college, but he was just an offensive coordinator in college when he was hired.
3) Two men went from Defensive Backs coach to Head Coach.
4) One coach went from Linebackers coach to Head Coach.
5) One coach was a special teams coach.
6) One man was a wide receivers coach.
7) One man was a defensive line coach.
Finally, here’s the table of all 147 head coaches. As always, it’s both sortable and searchable.
- The list: Romeo Crennel (hired as head coach of the 2012 Chiefs), Jason Garrett (2011 Cowboys), Leslie Frazier (2011 Vikings), Tom Cable (2009 Raiders), Mike Singletary (2009 49ers), Mike Tice (2002 Vikings), Dick LeBeau (2001 Bengals), Dave McGinnis (2001 Cardinals), Bruce Coslet (1997 Bengals), Jeff Fisher (1995 Oilers), Richard Williamson (1991 Buccaneers), Art Shell (1990 Raiders). [↩]
- With three exceptions. Steve Mariucci made his name as Brett Favre’s quarterbacks coach from 1992 to 1995, and then became the head coach at Cal in 1996. He was hired by San Francisco in 1997, but I’m labeling him as QB Coach hire and not a college coach hire. Similarly, John Harbaugh made his name as a special teams coach, but his final season with the Eagles was as a defensive backs coach. But I think it’s more accurate to label him special teams coaching hire. And Barry Switzer was actually retired when the Cowboys hired him, but it felt appropriate to label him a college coach. [↩]
- Erickson was labeled a college hire when he jumped from Miami to Seattle, but a retread when he moved from Oregon State to San Francisco. [↩]
- Andy Reid, John Fox, Eric Mangini, Dick Jauron, Herman Edwards, Steve Mariucci, Marty Schottenheimer, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Ray Rhodes, Dan Reeves, Bill Parcells, Bobby Ross, Rich Kotite, Dan Reeves, Chuck Knox, Sam Wyche, and Jerry Glanville. [↩]