Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New York Head Coaches: The Current, the Longest-Serving, the Shortest-Serving


Today, it was announced that Todd Bowles has been hired as head coach of the New York Jets.

He succeeds the recently-fired Rex Ryan -- who has been hired as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, an AFC Eastern Division opponent. I'll be curious to see how Jet fans react when Rex is introduced as Bills coach at MetLife Stadium next fall.

Who is Todd Bowles? Born November 18, 1963, making him 51 years old. Born and raised in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, making him a local guy. African-American, the 2nd such head coach in the history of New York football, following former Jet coach Herman Edwards, who was also born in New Jersey (while his father, an Army sergeant, was stationed at Fort Monmouth). Played safety at Temple University in Philadelphia. Played 8 years in the NFL, mostly for the Washington Redskins, including starting 12 games of their 1987 season that resulted in winning Super Bowl XXII. Intercepted 15 passes in his career. Listed as having played at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds.

Worked in the Green Bay Packers' front office, including in their 1996 season that resulted in winning Super Bowl XXXI, meaning he got a 2nd Super Bowl ring. Defensive coordinator at "historically black colleges" Morehouse and Grambling State. This is his 2nd time on the Jet coaching staff, as he was Al Groh's defensive backs coach in 2000. Coached defensive backs for the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys (under Bill Parcells), Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. Miami's interim head coach in 2011, going 2-1, so, however minimal, he does have NFL head coaching experience. Philadelphia's defensive coordinator in 2012, and the last 2 years, he's held the same post with the Arizona Cardinals, making the Playoffs all 3 seasons.

All in all, there are reasons to like this hiring, and no obvious red flags. The Jets may have gotten this one right.

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Here are the current head coaches of the 9 major league teams in the New York Tri-State Area, in terms of length of service:

1. New York Giants: Tom Coughlin, 11 years. (2 titles, 2007 and 2011.)
2. New York Yankees: Joe Girardi, 6 years. (1 title, 2009.)
3. New York Islanders: Jack Capuano, 5 years.
4. New York Mets: Terry Collins, 4 years.
5. New York Rangers: Alain Vigneault, 2 years.
6. New York Knicks: Derek Fisher, 3 months.
7. Brooklyn Nets: Lionel Hollins, 2 months.
8. New Jersey Devils: Tri-coaches Lou Lamoriello, Adam Oates and Scott Stevens, 19 days.
9. New York Jets: Todd Bowles, 1 day.

Hard to believe, but Girardi has now lasted longer as Yankee manager than all but 5 human beings who have ever lived: Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Ralph Houk the 2nd time around, and Joe Torre. Indeed, despite George Steinbrenner living on until 2010, the Yankees have had just 2 managers in the 19 years since November 4, 1995.

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Longest-Serving Head Coaches for the New York Teams

*. New York Giants (baseball): John McGraw, 30 years, 1902-32. 3 titles, 1905, 1921 and 1922.

1. New York Giants: Steve Owen, 23 years, 1931-53. 2 titles, 1934 and 1938. That's Owen in the photo, at the Polo Grounds, between 2 of his Hall of Fame players, Ken Strong (50) and Mel Hein (7).

2. New York Islanders; Al Arbour, 19 years, 1973-86, again 1988-94, and 1 more game in 2007, just to get him to the milestone of 1,500 games as a head coach. (Ted Nolan, the head coach at the time, came up with the idea of stepping aside for that 1 game, and Islander management agreed.) 4 titles, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983.

* Brooklyn Dodgers: Wilbert Robinson, 18 years, 1914-31. No titles, but Pennants in 1916 and 1920. Walter Alston was the longest-lasting Dodger manager, 23 years, 1954-76, but only the 1st 4 of those were spent in Brooklyn.

3. New York Yankees: Joe McCarthy, 16 years, 1931-46. 7 titles, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941 and 1943. Huggins, Stengel and Torre each served 12 years.

4. New York Knicks: Red Holzman, 14 years, 1967-77 and again 1978-82. 2 titles, 1970 and 1973.

5. New York Rangers: Lester Patrick, 13 years, 1926-39. 2 titles, 1928 and 1933. He was also the team's 1st GM, 1926 to 1955, adding a 3rd title in 1940.

6. New York Jets: Weeb Ewbank, 11 years, 1963-73. 1 title, 1968-69.

7. New Jersey Devils: Jacques Lemaire, 7 years, 1993-98, again 2009-10, and again 2010-11 -- the last 2 tenures being interim. 1 title, 1995.

8. New York Mets: Davey Johnson, 7 years, 1984-90. 1 title, 1986.

9. Nets (under any name): Kevin Loughery, 7 years, 1973-80. 2 ABA titles, 1974 and 1976.

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Shortest-Serving Head Coaches for the New York Teams

Note: This excludes interim hires, and, of course, the current head coaches, whose tenures have obviously not yet concluded.

1. New York Giants: Bob Folwell, the team's first head coach, 12 games in 1925. Quarterback Benny Friedman was a player-coach for the last 2 games of the 1930 season, making him the only interim head coach in the G-Men's history.

2. New York Jets: Lou Holtz, 13 games in 1976. He was a great college coach, but, like so many of those, he was a bust in the NFL. Mike Holovak was named interim coach for the last game. Ken Shipp, the year before, was also an interim hire, 5 games. Bowles can avoid being the shortest-serving Jet head coach if he lasts until December 13, 2015 (week 15 of the 2015 NFL season, presuming the Jets have 1 bye).

3. New York Islanders: Earl Ingarfield, 30 games at the end of the 1972-73 season, the team's 1st. Ironically, he was an ex-Ranger. He was not intended as an interim coach, but chose not to return. Good thing for the team that he didn't, as they hired Arbour.

4. New Jersey Devils: Kevin Constantine, the last 31 games of the 2001-02 season. The Devils have had several interim tenures, because -- letting Peter DeBoer stay nearly 2 1/2 seasons until this past December 26 being a notable exception -- Lamoriello, the team's general manager since 1987, has a trigger finger nearly as itchy as Steinbrenner's was. If Lamoriello settles on either Oates or Stevens as a single head coach, I won't count the other as the shortest-tenured even if it ends up being less than 31 games. Whichever it is (or if it's both), he (they) would surpass Constantine on March 14, 2015.

5. New York Rangers: Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion, 43 games in 1968-69. He was not fired: Instead, he quit because of his health, an ulcer. He recovered, and lived another 37 years. The Rangers have had many interim head coaches who lasted fewer games than that.

6. Nets (under any name): P.J. Carlesimo, 54 games in 2012-13. The Nets have had many interim coaches. Hard to believe their briefest full tenure was not in the period from their 1976 arrival in the NBA and the 2001 arrival of Jason Kidd as a player. Or Kidd's as head coach. Hollins will surpass Carlesimo if he lasts until February 23, 2015.

7. New York Knicks: Don Nelson, 59 games in 1995-96. Twice, Herb Williams has been called on to be interim head coach, for 1 game in 2004 and 43 games in 2005. Fisher will surpass Nelson if he lasts until March 4, 2015.

8. New York Yankees: Bill Dickey, 105 games in 1946. This stat carries a major asterisk, as Steinbrenner made so many managerial changes, it was hard to keep up. The manager intended as regular (as in non-interim) with the shortest individual tenure was Billy Martin, in his 5th and final go-around, 1988, lasting just 68 games; however, Billy managed 941 games from 1975 to 1988, adding up to nearly 6 full seasons. Steinbrenner's  quickest firing at the start of a season was Yogi Berra, 17 games into 1985, leading to Billy's 4th run; however, Yogi had managed the season before, and in 1964. The actual shortest tenure in the Steinbrenner Era (1973-2010) was 1 game, as Dick Howser had to fill in for a game in 1978 after Billy's 1st run ended, and replacement Bob Lemon couldn't get to the game on time; other than that, it was 39, Lemon's 2nd go-around in late 1981 and early 1982.

9. New York Mets: Jeff Torborg, 200 games in 1992-93. Collins has already surpassed him.

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