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Parcells and other coaches too old?

I was going to comment on this article by Bill Simmons, but our friend Skin Patrol from Hogs Haven took on the task. His fine work makes any contributions from me irrelevant. So I'll just lift his comments and post them below.

Skin Patrol's post

I have a problem with Bill Simmons

Namely, was anyone surprised that the 2006 Cowboys blew a game so memorably?

For starters him:

the Romo Game, an epic blunder that capped an improbable collapse.
What's their excuse? Why wouldn't Parcells take the brunt of the blame for such a disappointing season? Why would the Dallas fans want him back and, more importantly, why would he want to come back?

Whatever you want to say about the Cowboys, they lost a game on an improbable botched hold. It was a winnable game. That's an "excuse".

As for the "disappointing season", there's 20 teams in the NFL who had more disappointing seasons, the majority of them coached by people younger than Bill Parcells.

That sounds like the right job for a 65-year-old man? Shouldn't every head coach have a shelf life of 15-20 years and that's it? Bullfighters can hang around too long; so can wrestlers, porn stars, comics, TV executives, politicians, Supreme Court justices, even sports columnists. Why can't the same go for coaches?

Shouldn't Bill Simmons at least consider the possibility that the above decision should be left up to those social-security-check-clearing 65 year olds, and not by uninformed Sports' Columnists?

It's fairly easy to identify why Bullfighters, Wrestlers, and Porn Stars would all be age-prohibitive jobs. But as long as the mind remains sharp there isn't anything unusual about elder Justices, Politicians, Executives, or Sports Columnists. In fact youth is abnormal in politics, and the Supreme Court is necessarily reserved for older people because it is a lifetime appointment.

The following "famous" coaches presided over underachieving, shoddy and/or terrible 2006 teams and peaked at least 7-8 years ago: Parcells, Coughlin, Denny Green, Joe Gibbs and Art Shell. All of them are older than 55.

Yet if we'd done the same excercise a year ago we'd have to admit that Coughlin and Joe Gibbs accomplished quite a bit. They both took 6 win teams and turned them into 10 and 11 win postseason contenders. Same excercise with Bill Parcells in 2003, when he took a 5 win Cowgirls to the postseason. [ed. note - Skin Patrol gets a special exemption to use "Cowgirls" this one time on the front page] Are Parcells, Gibbs, and Coughlin remembering and forgetting and remembering how to win?

Over the last three decades, seven famous 55-plus coaches were lured out of retirement or college and bombed miserably: Mike Ditka (Saints), Buddy Ryan (Cards), Tom Flores (Seahawks), Chuck Knox (Rams), George Seifert (Panthers), Steve Spurrier (Redskins) and Hank Stram (Saints). Three others acquitted themselves much better: Jim Mora (a 13-win season with the Colts), Dick Vermeil (a Super Bowl with the Rams) and Marty Schottenheimer (currently presiding over the Super Bowl favorite). Does a 30-percent success rate sound enticing to you?"

Actually it doesn't sound too bad when we correct for other factors. The "success rate" in the NFL in general is only .375, which is the percentage of teams that go to the postseason. I don't think Steve Spurrier's failures at the Professional level should be blamed on his age, either... so 3 out of 8 coaches (presuming good faith on all the others) comes out to... .375! I do like them odds, Simmons.

Respected coaches like Tom Landry, Bud Grant, Don Coryell, Chuck Noll, Dan Reeves and Don Shula hung on with their longtime teams for 3-8 years too long (depending on the coach) before finally packing it in. All of them reached that "hanging on too long" point after hitting the 55-year mark.

A 55+ year old Tom Landry led the Dallas Cowboys to records of 12-4 three times and 10-6 once. At 56 or older, Tom Landry was 78-58 which is still a respectable record. Dave Campo, who was under 55 at the time, led the Cowboys to a 15-33 record. Chan Gailey, who was younger than 55, led the Cowboys to a 18-14 record. A 55+ Barry Switzer had a 40-24 record. You guys tell me...

3-8 years too long? Not for Bud Grant, he turned 55 in 1982 and only coached for 2 more years. His decline began 4 years prior, when he was 50-51.

Don Coryell turned 55 in 1979. The following two years he had an 11-5 and 10-6 record, winning the division both years.

Chuck Noll finished 2 out of 3 of his final seasons with winning records, which is more than you could've said for a younger-than-55 Chuck Noll from 1980-1982.

I'll grant Dan Reeves, he won more games at 54 than he had at any other age in his career.

Don Shula had 12, 11, and 10 win seasons after he turned 55.


Hogs Haven

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