Super Bowl Retreads

DMN’s Kevin Sherrington has an amusing quip: “I know what you’re thinking: He’s doing research? Is it because newspapers are in trouble? Yes, it is. Keep reading.

But, alas, while I’m sympathetic to his thesis — “If you want to go to the Super Bowl, don’t expect to make it on retreads.” — he needed to do more research.   He notes, correctly, that teams whose head coaches have held that position for another organization — or, especially, more than one other organization — have poor track records.  And, he notes, “it turns out that in every Super Bowl but two, at least one coach was working his first NFL head coaching stop.

Fine.  But here’s the thing:  The goal isn’t merely to get to the Super Bowl but to win it.   Thus far, there have been 42 Super Bowls.   The following teams won it with retread head coaches:

Giants, Tom Coughlin, 42

Colts, Tony Dungy, 41

Patriots, Bill Belichick, 39

Patriots, Bill Belichick,38

Buccanneers, Jon Gruden, 37

Patriots, Bill Belichick,36

Rams, Dick Vermeil, 34

Broncos, Mike Shanahan, 33

Broncos, Mike Shanahan, 32

Dolphins, Don Shula, 8

Dolphins, Don Shula, 7

Jets, Weeb Eubank, 3

So, 12 of 42 — 28.5 percent — of the Super Bowls were won by retreads. Further, 9 of the last 11 have been won by retreads.  The most recent contest featured two retreads. So, perhaps the lesson is simply to avoid hiring people like Wade Phillips, Norv Turner, and Dave Wannstedt — who have failed in multiple stops — rather than to avoid retreads altogether?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Forget retreats, my theory is that no one named “Weeb” will ever win a SuperBowl again.