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Saturday, April 4, 2009
Mailbag: This coaching tree is flourishing

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

K.C. from Wenatchee, Wash., writes: Hi Mike. I have a research question for you =)

With everything that went on with Jay Cutler in Denver it got me thinking … Bill Belicheck's former assistants haven't been faring too well out there.

Romeo Crennel was fired from Cleveland. Eric Mangini was fired from the Jets (and picked up by Cleveland). Charlie Weiss has been on the hot seat at Notre Dame since he got there. And now Josh McDaniels is losing his star QB because he was too eager to get his former star QB.

So what I'm wondering: Is there a Head Coaching family tree out there somewhere that would show us which coaches came from which coaches? Which of the current Head coaches has had the most success in developing other head coaches?

I'm measuring success by longevity in job, W-L record, and playoff experience, but feel free to throw in anything else that makes sense. Thanks in advance as always!

Oh, and Corey Redding's new deal only means one thing to me. The Hawks are playing to win this year and are looking to rebuild next year. New QB, new LT, new RB, new DL, and new DBs.

Mike Sando: This will come as a great shock to the regulars here, but my roster database does include 30 columns of information for each head coach. I added the 30th column under the heading "coaching tree" in response to your question. Thanks for the idea.

In some cases it's hard to tell which branches lead to which trees. It's not like every head coach owes his advancement to a single mentor. Some coaches spent one or more seasons under multiple head coaches early in their NFL careers.

That said, I went through and assigned mentors to every head coach, based on my judgment.

In keeping with the tree analogy, Bill Parcells leads the way with five branches: Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Tom Coughlin.

Brian Billick has four: Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, Mike Singletary and Rex Ryan.

Tony Dungy has three: Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Jim Caldwell.

Mike Holmgren has three: Andy Reid, Dick Jauron and Jim Zorn (although Jauron worked with both of Holmgren's predecessors in Green Bay, and he was with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville).

Reid has three: Brad Childress, John Harbaugh and Steve Spagnuolo.

Bill Cowher has two: Marvin Lewis and Ken Whisenhunt (although Whisenhunt spent four years as an NFL assistant to three head coaches before joining Cowher's staff).

Belichick has two: Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels.

The Parcells tree is holding up quite well. Six current coaches led their current teams to a combined nine Super Bowls. Belichick went to four of them. Coughlin went to a fifth. That gives the Parcells tree five of the nine Super Bowl appearances by coaches with their current teams. Belichick and Coughlin are the only current coaches to have led their current teams to Super Bowl victories.

As for your thought about the Seahawks rebuilding in 2010, that might happen, but the deal with Cory Redding wouldn't necessarily be an indication, in my view. The Seahawks saved only $1.55 million on the new deal. Redding's salary in 2010 would have been manageable.

Note: I'll be responding to mailbag submissions throughout the weekend. Thanks much for getting in touch through the comments, the mailbag, our Facebook profile and Twitter account.