Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Losers & Nobodies

If you were the GM of an NFL team with a head coaching vacancy, which of the following should you hire:

a) A proven winner, like Super Bowl Champ Bill Cowher
b) A proven loser, like Cam Cameron
c) A complete nobody, like Jim Harbaugh’s brother

If history is any guide, hire the nobody. If he’s not available, hire the loser.

There have been 41 Super Bowl champions. Every single one of them has been won by a Head Coach who came to that team with exactly zero Super Bowl titles on their resume. ¾ of them have been won by losers and nobodies.

Here’s the breakdown:

Complete Nobodys (25 titles)
These 14 guys won 26 titles. The day they were hired by the team they won the Bowls for, their fan base said, “Who?”

Chuck Noll (4 titles)
Joe Gibbs (3)
Bill Walsh (3)
Vince Lombardi (2 - plus a bunch of NFL titles)
Tom Landry (2)
Bill Parcells (2)
Tom Flores (2)
George Siefert (2)
Don McCafferty
John Madden
Mike Holmgren
Brian Billick
Bill Cowher
(Yes, I'm aware that many of these guys had distinguished careers as assistants before getting their head coaching job, as illustrated by the picture above)

Proven Losers (5 titles)These two had experience – of the losing kind.

Bill Belichick (3 titles…losing record in 4 of his 5 Cleveland seasons)
Mike Shanahan (2 titles in Denver…8-12 with the Raiders)

College Degrees (3 titles)These guys won college titles, but had never been in an NFL locker room:

Jimmy Johnson (2)
Barry Switzer

Celebrity Coach (1 title)
Ditka deserves his own category. The Bears were his first head coaching gig, but he was neither a complete nobody nor a proven loser. At least I won’t call him one…

Ring-less Success (3 titles)These 3 guys each had some success as a Head Coach before switching teams and winning a Super Bowl.

Jon Gruden
Dick Vermeil
Tony Dungy

Quasi-Exceptions to the Rule - But Somebody Had to Win (3 titles)
In Super Bowl III Weeb Ewbank, who had won 2 titles with the Colts in the late 50’s (pre-Super Bowl Era) faced off against Don Shula, who would go on to win 2 Super Bowls with the Dolphins. Shula, had he won, would have been the exception to the rule.

Ewbank’s Jets won, giving Weeb his only Super Bowl title. Coupled with his Colts' titles, he is the only head coach to have won an NFL title with two different teams (good trivia question, huh?)

Won Super Bowl...Switched Teams and Won Another Super Bowl (0 titles)

Well, nobody has done that. Won't happen this year, either. If the Pats win, the Losers get another title. If the Giants win, Coughlin joins Gruden, Dungy, and Vermeil.

What happened to the Champs?On 13 different occasions an NFL team hired a head coach who had already won a Super Bowl. None of them won again.
Gibbs - round 2 with Redskins
Flores - Seahawks
Johnson - Dolphins
Lombardi - Redskins
Parcells - Jets/Pats*/Boys
Siefert - Panthers
Stram - Saints
McCafferty - Lions
Ditka - Saints
Holmgren - Seahawks*
Vermeil - Chiefs
* won Conference championship
Update: Fassel, a Qualified Loser, lost the Skins job to a Nobody, but makes a convincing argument that Losers Beat Nobodies. I address it here...

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