Parcells coaching tree is as good as it gets

A few years ago when Bill Parcells was coach of the Cowboys people felt the need to ask the question – who is a better head coach, Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells?  While it may be true that Belichick might possibly be the better game day coach no one has left their fingerprints on today’s NFL more than Bill Parcells.

Parcells won two rings with the Giants but his former assistant have gone on to win a combined 5 of their own

Parcells’ first head coaching gig in the NFL was with the New York Giants from 1983-1990.  5 coaches from his Super Bowl winning coaching staff went on to be head coaches in the NFL.  Running Backs coach Ray Handley replaced him after he retired and had a 14-18 record in two seasons as Giants head coach.  That was his last job in the NFL.  Linebackers coach Al Groh eventually replaced Parcells after he retired from the Jets and lasted one year as Jets head coach, amassing a 9-7 record before resigning himself.  The other three who went on to become head coaches, defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, wide receivers coach Tom Coughlin, and defensive line coach Romeo Crennel will all hold head coaching jobs when the 2012 season begins.  Groh and assistant special teams coach Charlie Weis would go on to be head coaches in the college ranks.

After being out of coaching for two seasons Parcells returned to head coach the New England Patriots.  His new staff bore another future head coach, wide receivers coach Chris Palmer who coached the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and 2000.  Running Backs coach Maurice Carthon served as assistant head coach to Chiefs coach Todd Haley.  After 4 years in New England it was off to the Jets for 3 years.  From that staff wide receivers coach Todd Haley went on to coach the Kansas City Chiefs for almost 4 seasons, tight ends coach Ken Whisenhunt has head coached the Arizona Cardinals for the past 5 seasons, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan coached the San Fransisco 49ers from 2005 to 2008, and secondary coach Todd Bowles was the interim coach of the Miami Dolphins at the end of this past season.  After 3 more years off Parcells once again got the itch and agreed to coach the Dallas Cowboys.  His offensive coordinator Sean Payton was hired by the Saints in 2006.  Offensive line coach Tony Sparano coached the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011.

Parcells disciple Ken Whisenhunt coached the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl

In all, at least 5 former Parcells assistants will be head coaches at the start of the 2012 NFL season.  A number of others have had interviews for current head coaching vacancies, including Bowles and Mike Zimmer, his former defensive coordinator in Dallas.  Romeo Crennel had a disappointing 24-40 record in 4 years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.  After being named defensive coordinator in Kansas City, Crennel earned the head coaching job after a 2-1 record as interim head coach at the end of 2011.  He’ll start the 2012 season as his first full year as Chiefs head coach.  Ken Whisenhunt is 39-39 in five seasons as a head coach with the Cardinals but boasts a 4-2 postseason record and went to Super Bowl after the 2008 season.

Parcells disciple Sean Payton helped re-energize the city of New Orleans

The other three are as successful as any coach in the NFL currently.  Sean Payton took over the Saints in 2006, the year after Katrina ripped through the city of New Orleans.  In his 6 seasons there he has amassed a regular season record of 62-34, a playoff record of 5-3 and a Super Bowl championship in 2009.  He is a cult hero in New Orleans after turning the franchise around in a time when they needed it the most.  Tom Coughlin has coached in the NFL for 16 seasons, 8 with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the past 8 as head coach of the New York Giants.  He’s hardly ever listed as one of the elite head coaches of the league but Coughlin has coached to a 129-103 regular season record, a 10-7 postseason record, and a Super Bowl Championship in 2007, won over another Parcells disciple.

Belichick has put together a Hall of Fame resume after breaking from Parcells

And then there is Bill Belichick.  Belichick has head coached in the NFL for 17 years seasons, 5 with the Cleveland Browns and then the last 12 with the New England Patriots.  Belichick has a 175-97 lifetime record in the regular season.  In the playoffs he is 16-6.  He has won three Super Bowls with the Patriots.  He’s won the coach of the year three times.  He is a future NFL Hall of Fame coach.  He is widely regarded as Bill Parcells’ prized pupil.

As we head into championship weekend we have a 50% chance that at least one former Parcells assistant will coach in the Super Bowl and there’s a chance that Belichick and Coughlin may be headed towards a rematch of their 2007 Super Bowl clash.  Bill Parcells might be a polarizing figure to football fans, with his brash attitude and constant fear of commitment to one place but one thing is for sure – whatever he was selling to those assistant coaches all of those years, they were certainly buying.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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