American Football Wiki

Coaching trees are becoming more prominent in today's NFL culture. They are often referenced by various media outlets, such as ESPN (see Len Pasquarelli article). Each branch of the tree shows a relationship between one coach and their predecessor. The relationship shown on the below trees are of an assistant coach to a head coach. The former assistant branches out from the head coach that they used to work for. The tree examples below only show the relationship of former assistant coaches to their former head coach. In several cases, an assistant coach learns a general philosophy from their head coach. Coaching trees can also show a philosophical relationship between an assistant and a former head coach who mentored them (see Tony Dungy below). In the current NFL, all 32 active head coaches trace their roots back to three main prominent Head Coaches: Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, and Marty Schottenheimer (See Graphic Below).

NFL Coaching Tree Examples[]

The following graphics are offered only as EXAMPLES of coaching trees. Each coach belongs to several different coaching trees as they work under many different coaches throughout their careers. These three trees attempt to show a relationship between each particular coach and only one of the former head coaches that they worked under. Current head coaches are underlined in red.

File:Coaching Trees.GIF

Philosophical Tree Connections[]

Coaching trees can also show a philosophical relationship between a mentor head coach and their protege. Below is a list of current and former head coaches and who they primarily developed their philosophy under:

  • Norv Turner: Most recently Turner worked as an Offensive Coordinator under Mike Nolan in San Francisco. However, before getting his first head coaching job with the Redskins in 1994, Turner worked under both John Robinson and Jimmy Johnson. Turner article
  • Wade Phillips: Coached under Marty Schottenheimer, but primarily learned his philosophy from his father, Bum Phillips. Phillips article
  • Jon Gruden: Worked under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay. Holmgren/Gruden article
  • Tony Dungy: Is listed above as part of the Schottenheimer coaching tree. However, Dungy attributes most of his coaching style from tutelage under Chuck Noll. Noll learned much of his philosophy from Paul Brown. Noll coached Dungy as a player and also gave him his first NFL position as the defensive backs coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dungy later became the defensive coordinator for the Steelers. Dungy article
  • Todd Haley: Coached under Bill Parcells and learned his philosophy from him for many years before joining Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, in 2007.
  • Steve Spagnuolo: While Steve is credited under Tom Coughlin and Bill Parcells tree, he studied and learned much of his style and system during his tenure in Philadelphia under Jim Johnson and Andy Reid. Steve took Jim's style of play to New York where he gained national attention for his scheming and personnel packages that helped shut down New England in the Super Bowl, and then he took that defense to St. Louis
  • Jack Del Rio: He worked under Lewis on the Ravens' defensive staff. However, Del Río got his coaching start from Mike Ditka in New Orleans, and then worked as Defensive Coordinator under John Fox in Carolina, where he ran the defense during their Super Bowl run.

Additionally, many college football coaches worked as assistants for head coaches on the tree. For instance, Bill Belichick can claim Kirk Ferentz, Nick Saban, and Charlie Weis as descendants of his tree, though they are not included in the graphic above.