Yesterday, Jon Gruden’s name was floated, tied to current San Diego GM A.J. Smith. Gruden, of course, has been retired from coaching for the last three seasons and is currently a Monday Night Football analyst. Today, the Rams are reportedly interested in making a “serious run” at Jeff Fisher. Fisher has taken the last year off after being fired in Tennessee, following 16+ seasons as the head coach. Bill Cowher, another coach with a Super Bowl to his credit, has been linked to an interview already in San Diego (which will be denied since Norv has yet to be officially fired), just as he was in Miami earlier this season. Cowher, of course, has been out of coaching now for five seasons.
All of these men will be attractive candidates, and will likely demand higher salaries to obtain their services than the average coaching candidate. Let’s face it they also generate more public interest than speculation about largely anonymous assistants. Owners who turn their team over to any of these three will be hoping to duplicate their earlier success, and will pay for that experience.
But is it worth it? Coaches, just like players, age. The energy and drive that helped with reaching the mountain top may wane. Coaches who have reached a Super Bowl, then taken time off before returning as a head coach later, haven’t exactly lit the world on fire as a group. Here’s a summary of every coach, that like Cowher, Fisher and Gruden, has reached a Super Bowl, then taken at least one season off from coaching before returning to a job in the NFL.
These Super Bowl coaches collecting a retirement paycheck have combined to win 44.4% of their games in their first return gig after taking time off from the league. They have made the playoffs only 29% of the time, and only two (Parcells with the Patriots, Vermeil with the Rams) advanced as far as a conference championship game at least once. Owners likely pay a premium for experience, but the returns, so far, have not justified the hype. [UPDATE: For contrast of other types of hires, see my post on Jim Harbaugh and Busting the College Coaches Myth]
[photo via Getty]
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