Who is the greatest football coach of all time?
This is a topic that’s seen a resurgence this week with Alabama leading Nick Saban to his sixth national championship in college football, his fifth with the Crimson Tide (the other with LSU, 2003). He has now tied Alabama coaching legend Bear Bryant at six titles.
Saban’s dominance in his respective class of football has drawn comparisons to that of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the NFL.
Bill Belichick — Patriots (2000-2017)
5-time Super Bowl Champion
7-time AFC Champion
Regular Season Record: 214-74 (.743) – 3rd All-Time
Playoff Record: 25-9 (.735)
Belichick has more championships than any other coach in the Super Bowl era, and has New England in position — three wins away — to potentially add a sixth Lombardi Trophy to its trophy case.
Surely other coaches come to mind in the discussion of Greatest Of All Time: Bill Walsh, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, George Halas, Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi.
But Ross Tucker — a former Redskins offensive lineman and current NFL analyst — says the comparisons are all wrong. Actually, he says there is no competition for the coaching G.O.A.T.
“[The Patriots have] got pretty clearly in my mind the best quarterback of all time, and they’ve got one of the best coaches of all time,” Tucker told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “Not the best coach of all time, because, as we’ve talked about before, the best coach of all time is Joe Gibbs.”
“And I’m not pandering to your audience,” Tucker told the D.C.-based hosts. “But all week, all I’m hearing is, ‘Nick Saban or Belichick? Belichick or Saban? Who’s the best ever?’ It’s Joe Gibbs.”
“I mean, the guy won three Super Bowls with three different non-Hall of Fame quarterbacks, went to another one, and then made the playoffs with three other quarterbacks,” he said. “How many years did Gibbs even coach? Like ’82-’93, and then came back for like four years, right?
“So you’re telling me, like, in 15 or 16 years, the guy went to the playoffs with six different quarterbacks — it was an aging Brunell, Jay Schroeder, a Todd Collins/Jason Campbell combo platter when I was there in ’07 — and then wins the Super Bowl with three non-Hall of Fame [quarterbacks]?”
Gibbs does have 17 coaches ahead of him in wins, though, as Tucker notes, he did win Super Bowl titles with three separate quarterbacks — Mark Rypien, Doug Williams and Joe Theismann — neither of whom are in the Hall.
He also made the playoffs with four other quarterbacks: Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell/Todd Collins, Jay Schroeder.
Joe Gibbs (1981-1992; 2004-2007)
3-time Super Bowl Champion
4-time NFC Champion
Regular Season Record: 154-94 (.621) – 18th all-time
Playoff Record: 17-7 (.708)
“Think about the other coaches,” Tucker said. “Vince Lombardi: Okay, great. Bart Starr. Bill Belichick: Okay, all five Super Bowls, Tom Brady. Thank you. How about Bill Walsh? All three Super Bowl victories, Joe Montana, the second-best quarterback of all time.
“Like, I’m more impressed with Gibbs. And I was there with him. He put me on IR or whatever. I’m not saying it because I’m like tight with Gibbs. He’s not like my guy. I’m just looking at it objectively. Joe Gibbs has the most impressive resume of any football coach ever.”
“And Saban is very impressive, because of the fact that he did it at LSU and Alabama,” he said. “That’s very impressive, but college football is a very different animal, where recruiting is like 90 percent of it, and Alabama in particular has resources that give them a decided advantage when it comes to recruiting, especially in the south, and I’ll leave it at that.”