OT: The head coaching carousel

Bill Belichick and Nick Saban shared a sideline in 1994 with the Browns, going 11-5. Photo courtesy of talksport.com

DAVID JACOBS I STAFF REPORTER I drjacobs@butler.edu 

Overtime, or “OT,” is an opinion column series where the Collegian takes national sports headlines or polarizing topics and gives them a Butler-centric angle

Every year at the collegiate and professional levels, football coaches get fired and rehired elsewhere. This constant rotation means there are just three professional coaches with longer tenures than seven seasons, and just seven coaches with tenures longer than 10 seasons at the collegiate level. 

This year specifically three of the most impactful coaches in football history: former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, former Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and former Alabama head coach Nick Saban will all be in new spots in 2024. 

For first-year sports media major Kamille Wilson, these coaches ending their tenures highlights just how few great coaches are left in the game. 

“I think watching those widely known and great coaches leave puts a culture shock into anyone who watches football,” Wilson said. “I personally do not want Pete Carroll to be done [coaching]. He could go somewhere and be great, but a lot will definitely be changed in Seattle.” 

Bill Belichick, former Patriots head coach and general manager, parted ways with the franchise after winning six Super Bowls, but missed the playoffs three of the last four seasons following the departure of quarterback Tom Brady

Belichick recently interviewed twice with the Atlanta Falcons for their head coach opening but has yet to interview with any other teams. An equally good general manager as coach, it is not out of the question for Belichick to take a front office job rather than a coaching position. 

As many call Belichick the greatest coach of all time, former Patriots linebacker and defensive assistant Jerod Mayo will have lofty expectations to live up to assuming the head coach role in New England. 

Although Mayo was the guy that ended up with the job, there is another former Patriots linebacker that is on the coaching market. 

Mike Vrabel, a three-time Super Bowl champion and All-Pro linebacker for the Patriots, went to three playoffs as the coach of the Titans before being let go. Many fans, like first-year secondary education major Griffen Knoll, believe that the Patriots job was Vrabel’s to have. 

“[Belichick leaving the Patriots] was initially a shock,” Knoll said. “Then I remembered how poor of a season the Patriots had, and it was time for them to move on from Bill. I really figured Mike Vrabel would be the one to take over for them, but maybe it will be better for them to have [Mayo] who is younger.” 

Mayo becomes the youngest active head coach in the league at 37 years old, bringing a much needed youth movement to New England. 

It will never be easy to fill in the shoes of a coach like Belichick, but sophomore finance major Seth Raymond feels it is a good opportunity for Mayo. 

“This could be a big step for [the] former linebacker coach,” Raymond said. “However, the fast decision-making [from] New England’s front office shows their confidence in him.” 

For many, Belichick’s collegiate counterpart was former Alabama head coach Nick Saban. After seven national championships over the course of 28 years, Saban retired from coaching following a 27-20 loss to Michigan in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2024. 

The career of his successor, former Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer, epitomizes the constant change among football coaches. 

In 2019, DeBoer was the offensive coordinator at Indiana University under the helm of Tom Allen. A year later, he took the head coaching position at Fresno State, where he went 9-3 in his lone non-COVID season before accepting the head coaching job at Washington. He went 25-3 in his two seasons at Washington, before accepting the job at Alabama on Jan. 12, 2024, merely four days after a 34-13 defeat to Michigan in the CFP Championship game. 

“I feel bad for his athletes at Washington,” Wilson said. “What he did in Washington was great, but he got out of there extremely fast. I do not know if he can keep the same atmosphere and standards that Saban built, but maybe Alabama needed the change.” 

While Saban will go down as one of the most important coaches in football history, the same may not be said about the underappreciated Pete Carroll. The longtime coach ended his 14 year head coaching tenure with the Seattle Seahawks and will be transitioning to an advising position in the team’s front office. 

Carroll accumulated 26 seasons of head coaching experience across the collegiate and professional ranks, becoming one of just four coaches to win a championship at both levels. At USC, Carroll went 97-19 and 7-2 in bowl games during his nine year tenure including back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004. 

In the NFL, Carroll accumulated 137 of his 170 wins in Seattle and won the Super Bowl in 2013 over the Broncos. Although no longer coaching, Carroll will continue his role as the Executive Vice President of football operations for the organization. 

The Seahawks have yet to fill the shoes left behind by Carroll, but Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is expected to be a front-runner for the job. 

Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in the Super Bowl and was the head coach of the Falcons when they infamously collapsed 28-3 against the Patriots in 2016. 

With head coaching experience and ties to the franchise, it is a no-brainer to bring Quinn on for the vacancy. The defensive ranks in Seattle have been bottom half in each of the last six seasons while Quinn’s defense in Dallas has been top 10 in scoring each of the last three seasons. A defensive reboot while linebacker Bobby Wagner is still holding onto the latter end of his prime would do wonders for the city. 

Outside of Seattle, there are a handful of teams still looking for their guy: the Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers

With so many teams looking for new coaches, fans like Raymond feel it may not be best for the game. 

“I do not think the constant rotation is great for the sport,” Raymond said. “I think coaches need time to settle in and prove themselves, their system and culture [that] they want to implement.” 

A truly great head coach comes around once in a blue moon and is one of the most valuable assets a winning team can have. The hiring of a head coach can make or break the immediate future of a franchise, and choosing the wrong guy for the job is detrimental to the players, city and fanbase. 


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