Picking a New Coach:

The Success Probability Gradient ("SPG")

The Perfect Pro Football Coach


No employer ever hires a new employee expecting him/her to fail. Hope springs eternal that the newest employee will be an all-star. Unfortunately, when owners bring in new head coaches, most often the opposite is true, and the new guy is lucky if he survives three or four seasons. In fact, there is no way to be sure your new hot shot is going to work out, but by taking a look at what has gone before, it is possible to hedge the bet a lot.

It is our contention that by comparing a new candidate’s credentials with what has worked before, you just might get an inkling about how he is going to work out. By analyzing the qualities and backgrounds of the most successful of the almost 300 previous NFL head coaches, we created a standard model for the “perfect pro football coach”. We then developed our
“Success Probability Gradient (SPG)”, which enables us to compare a new prospect against the “perfect” model. The higher correlation that your new man has with the past standard bearers, the more likely he can be successful in his new position with your team. We place a lot of emphasis on experience as a coordinator and having been consistently around winning programs. We have also discovered some quicksand pits to avoid.

 A perfect score
 SPG score would be “100”, and that guy would be the next Bill, John, or Vince. Above 85 is excellent, 75-85 is good, 65 to 75 is fair, and anything else is almost surely doomed to fail.

We have a little history on our side here. We first instituted our SPG ratings  during the 2009 NFL season, when nine new coaches were brought in. Rex Ryan, Jim Caldwell, and Jim Schwartz were members of that class. Here is how we rated each member of that group  when they started in 2009.

We forecast that Spagnuolo, Schwartz, and Ryan would be the best of the lot. We missed on Schwartz and Spagnoulo.  We saw little to be optimistic about among the rest, and for the most part we were correct.  We were right on at least 6 of 9 for a 67% accuracy rate. Other than possibly Rex Ryan’s tempestuous years in New York, it does not appear than the owners got any of them right.

Check out our predictions for the class of 2017 on our blog                  http://coachingthenfl.wordpress.com/