Here's Your Reminder That Recycled Super Bowl Coaches Have Been Pretty Bad


Tom Coughlin drew the attention of the Philadelphia Eagles, though today Adam Schefter has reported that Coughlin is withdrawing his name from joining the Giants’ division rivals. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers’ interest in Mike Shanahan has “ramped up considerably.” Both come with considerable caché: 40 combined seasons coaching, 4 total Super Bowl rings, and both tied at 12th all-time in wins.

Of course, they have also not had their best seasons recently, in each of their last four years as coaches, they are a combined 52-76, with one playoff appearance.

We see this every year during the coaching search season. Sometimes a big former name comes out and gets leaked, but nothing comes of it (see Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher). Other times, we get Jeff Fisher, and now maybe Mike Shanahan. Right before Fisher was hired, I wrote about the Super Bowl winning coaches. Since it has been four years, now seems like a good time to revisit.

Here is a summary of every coach who reached a Super Bowl since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, with their record at every position after the team with which they made their first Super Bowl appearance (I included cases like Joe Gibbs, who retired but later returned to the same franchise).

These Super Bowl Winners combined to win only 47% of their games elsewhere. They made the playoffs in a sub-par 34% of seasons, and only Dick Vermeil with the Rams won a Super Bowl after having previously appeared in one for a different franchise over this span (out of 91 possible seasons).

To put that in perspective, two years ago I examined different types of hires and success rates. College coaches came out on top in terms of reaching the playoffs. Other risky hires like non-offense/defense coordinators, who only rose as high as position coach or special teams, were also very successful.

At the other end of the spectrum was defensive coordinators. I didn’t separate out “former NFL coach” in that post. Had I done so, former Super Bowl Coaches would have come in down at the bottom, only above defensive coordinators.

Of course, there’s one major difference. Super Bowl coaches with sterling reputations don’t come cheap, like younger coaches do. Owners have often sought out past winners, and paid a steep price. As with most things, though, past performance is no guarantee of future success.