Talk:NFL coaching trees

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What is the purpose of a coaching tree other than to provide another tool for mindless fans to overemphasize nominally significant intellectual relationships and attribute the success of one coach to the capacity of his former colleague? The relationship between a head coach and his assistants is less of a teacher-student relationship, rather more of a colleague-colleague one. That said, in all work environments individuals can learn from their peers. Therefore, it's natural to assume that there is some level of instruction or intellectual development from one generation to the next. But isn't it more likely that coaches would hire assistants whose "philosophies" were already compatible with their own, not coaches whom they anticipated being able to mold into having the right frame of mind? Moreover, most assistants-turned-head coaches will have worked under multiple coaches and upper level assistants by the time they become a head coach somewhere. For example, who is to say that Jack Del Rio was most influenced by Brian Billick (as is indicated in the tree), rather than by Mike Ditka or John Fox, under whom he worked his first and last assistant coaching positions prior to being named the Jaguars' head coach? It's an arbitrary assignment. It also ignores the possibility that each of the three had some degree of influence on Del Rio's development. But when you really look at the similarities of the individuals on these trees there often isn't much similarity in coaching styles at all between the associated individuals. To elaborate on the observation of one of the individuals below, Del Rio's forte is with traditional defense whereas Billick's is with flashy, scheming offense. Perhaps a coaching tree's only measure of significance is that it illustrates that competent coaches can identify coaching talent. Although it doesn't begin to touch on failed hirings. As such, they can be fun to look at and consider on a superficial level, which is undoubtedly why many fans and similarly unintelligent "analysts" like to reference them, but they really should not be regarded as having much significance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by JollyOldStNick08 (talkcontribs) 21:21, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

It's apparent that you didn't read the article or the discussion page very carefully. Coaching trees, like family trees, just show relationships between coaches. In family trees there does not have to be any influence between parent and child in order for the relationship to exist. With coaching trees the relationship exists by virtue of the fact that one coach worked for another coach. Just like in a family tree a relationship is shown when a child is born to a parent. Since when do trees show influence? Family trees don't. There are plenty of children who grow up not knowing who one or both of their parents are, let alone the fact that they are not in any way influenced but them. If you are only interested in who influenced who then pay no attention to coaching trees. There is relevance to coaching trees, otherwise they wouldn't exist. They show relationships. If you don't see the relevance, that's your problem. Justvikings (talk) 18:08, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
It's clear you didn't understand the point of my argument, which is to say that coaching trees are largely insignificant and highly overused by fans, analysts, and journalists. If coaching trees were only used as an instrument for displaying relationships of employment among coaches, then that would be fine. However, that offers a very limited relevance, and most often they are used to suggest that coach Y is competent or has a certain style because he worked with coach X, who has been successful the NFL. And the continuation of that thought typically becomes that coach X was therefore even better than we often realize because of his tremendous ability to breed elite coaches.
I appreciate the comparison to family trees. However, just because something exists doesn't mean that it carries much significance. That family trees exist is a testament to the value families place on their own ancestry and the relationships that led to their present state. Except perhaps with politically and socially significant figures they tend to be maintained solely by members of the concerned families. Unlike family trees, NFL coaching trees are created and maintained publicly by fans and analysts, who must value them either for visual purposes -- such as for viewing relationships of employment as you've noted -- or for drawing conclusions on philosophical or stylistic influence among coaches, or both. If all that people really cared about was seeing relationships, why would coaching trees typically then only assign one direct relationship of coach-assistant coach? Shouldn't as many as possible be ideal? Wouldn't it be worthwhile to see as much as possible how interweaving the relationships truly are? Moreover, family trees are significant because the formative years of one's life typically occur under the influence of his family. Familial relationships are often maintained throughout one's life, much longer than those among NFL coaches. Within family trees there is also an implicit suggestion of influence as far as I am concerned. For example: While I am different from my father because we are unique people, the values he instilled in me as a child have influenced my own political, social, and religious views. Even if I grew up not knowing my parents, their genes would still have affected my own.
Simply put, Wikipedia has rules that state that articles must be able to articulate the significance of the material discussed or they should be removed. So what is the significance of NFL coaching trees? That they are a highly subjective, incomplete diagram of employment relationships? I'm not sure that that's particularly compelling. If they are significant in that their misuse indicates the incompetence of fans, journalists, and analysts, then sure, I buy the article. JollyOldStNick08 —Preceding comment was added at 22:22, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
This article is relevant. It illustrates and explains a concept that is used/misused/abused by people getting paid to talk about football on TV or radio. Whether or not the concept in itself has merit is beside the point. It's a concept being used (quite prolifically) and therefore it warrants an article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:45, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Lane Kiffin[edit]

Somewhat of an indirect tree relation, but Lane Kiffin is the son of Monte Kiffin who was Tony Dungy's defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay. Monte Kiffin is the mastermind behind the Tampa 2 scheme, which is the defensive philosophy and hallmark of the Dungy branches of the coaching tree.

Lane Kiffin worked under Pete Carroll at USC, and Pete Carroll I'm almost positive came up under Bill Walsh with the 49ers... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dukie Steel (talkcontribs) 07:50, 24 February 2008 (UTC)


Are we to think that Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, and Marty Schottenheimer taught every coach in the NFL today. I don't think coach Lovie Smith ever coached under any of them. He coached with a coach that coached with one of those coaches, get it?

Obviously you don't get it. What you are explaining at the end is actually the whole point of creating a coaching tree. It shows a teaching relationship instead of a family relationship (see Family Tree). Marty Schottenheimer was one of the few Head Coaches who hired and influenced Tony Dungy. (Dungy was also originally hired and influenced by Chuck Noll and then later also worked under Dennis Green before he went to Tampa). Dungy was then one of the Head Coaches who hired and influenced Lovie Smith. Get it? Justvikings 18:21, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Obviously, you don't get my point. The fact that Bill Walsh, etc. may have hired current head coaches as assistants, and then, the assistants hired other assistants, who eventually became head coaches is irrevelant. This is just a good example of networking. The coaching style and emphasis of each individual coach is determined by the individual coach, themselves. For example, Marty Schottenheimer is primarily a defensive minded coach, whereas Cam Cameron is an offensive minded coach. Another example would be: Brian Billick coaches offense, Jack Del Rio coaches defense. Many other examples of different coaching philosophies, strengths, and emphasis can be made within the "3 trees". Finally, Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin, and Lovie Smith developed the Tampa 2 defense, which is employed by their respective teams, as well as, as a handful mimicking defensive coordinators. Thus, they all must be disciples of Marty Schottenheimer??? Get it yet?

I get it. Coaching trees just show relationships between coaches. If you want to get into who learned which philosophy from who then you would probably have to interview each individual coach. And I'm sure that in Bill Walsh's case maybe some of the coaches that he groomed would give him credit for influencing their philosophy. Some of them may not, even though they worked for him. You could also argue where to draw the line. Can an offensive coach influence a defensive coach? Can an assistant who spends a short time under a Head Coach be counted as being part of his tree (like Dennis Green under Bill Walsh)? I admit that Coaching Trees can be ambiguous and everyone will have a different theory as to what constitutes a relationship between two coaches. However, if you compare a coaching tree to a family tree then there is only one way to determine if a relationship can be shown. A child that is actually born to a parent takes his/her place on that parents family tree regardless of whether or not that parent actually influenced that child or not. The only way to define the criteria for position on a tree is whether or not that coach was part of the Head Coaches staff. If he was on a particular coaches staff then he can be counted as being part of that particular coaches tree. Unless you can show me a reference that states otherwise I'll assume that this is the only way to define placement on a coaching tree. If you want to develop a coaching tree based only on philosophical influence then more power to you, developing such a tree would likely be problematic and I would be interested to see it. Justvikings 17:23, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree with you, in that making a coaching tree based on coaching influences, would be problematic. It would require more personal information from each coach, including their high school and college experiences. Thus construction of such a tree should be left up to someone who works in close proximity with coaches, ie, someone from the NFL Coaches Association. Regardless, I think the coaching trees in this article are well constructed, in showing previous working relationships and applaud the research it took to put them together. Futbol81 17:54, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Hello, its been a year since I commented on this topic. Seems like you edited your previous reply a bit, not to include your wife/family analogies. Anyway, I was just being nice in my last post. I still think coaching trees and this whole post are garbage, if they claim anything but showing an oversimplified schematic of previous working relationships. Please rename the article to Simplified NFL Coaching Relationships. Thanks.--Futbol81 (talk) 03:01, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Josh McDaniel[edit]

Josh McDaniels needs to be added under Bill Belichick's coaching tree, now that he has been hired as head coach of the Denver Broncos. Nonpoint74 (talk) 22:36, 15 January 2009 (UTC)


Mora, Zorn, and Jauron need to have their red underlinings removed as they are no longer head coaches in the NFL. Actually, why not scrap the underlining altogether? Keeping the underlining would require updating the GIFs every time a coach gets fired. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:56, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Paul Brown[edit]

Paul Brown is the father of modern football, not Bill Walsh. Walsh is his disciple. Shottenheimer is a throw back to the non modern era, as are the coaches under him. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:03, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Jon Gruden[edit]

Shouldn't John Gruden be placed under George Siefert or Mike Holmgren or Ray Rhodes? Gruden was an assistant under Mike Holmgren with the Packers and the 49ers and was hired as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders after serving as Ray Rhodes' offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. Paul Hackett was Gruden's QB coach for a few seasons and they worked together at the University of Pittsburgh but his first NFL job was with the 49ers under Siefert working for Mike Holmgren and he was hired away from the Eagles under Ray Rhodes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:51, 17 December 2010 (UTC)