- In any given year, between 9-25% of head coaching positions are open and filled, with FBS having the highest average percentage of turnover at just over 16%.
- Of the 181 Head Coaching vacancies at FBS, FCS, and D-II institutions over the last three years, 113 of them (62%) were filled by first-time coaches.
- Of the 305 coaches promoted in the last three years, 71 (23.3%) served as Offensive Coordinator the year prior, and 65 (21.3%) were Defensive Coordinator the year prior. Just 13 (4.3%) were a Special Teams Coordinator.
Recently we examined the makeup of Football coaching staffs, focusing on Offensive Coordinators, Defensive Coordinators, and Special Teams Coordinators. Today we’ll focus on position coaches and how often coaches are promoted.
Looking specifically at coaches who supervise positions but are not the Head Coach, OC, DC, or STC, we examined nearly 3,800 coaches and over 15,000 of their seasons. 54% of the coaches strictly handled offensive positions, while another 42.2% strictly handled defensive positions. The remaining 5.3% (203) have handled both offensive and defensive skills positions at some point in the last eleven seasons, and 11% of that 203 handled skill positions on both sides of the ball in the same season.
Just 11 of those 3,800 coaches handled three skills positions in the same season (3 on the offensive side and 8 on the defensive side), and another 306 (8%) handled two skill positions in the same season (nearly 80% on the offensive side of the ball, 14% on the defensive side, and 6% on both sides of the ball). Of the coaches that handle multiple positions, here’s the breakdown of how they pair up:
The remaining coaches that handle just one skill position are broken down as follows:
|Defense||% of pos. Coaches||Offense||% of pos. Coaches|
On a different note, we also examined coaching positions and the particulars surrounding who gets promoted. In any given year, between 9-25% of head coaching positions are open and filled, with FBS having the highest average percentage of turnover at just over 16%.
The good news for coaches trying to break into the Head Coaching ranks is that the rate of institutions filling those jobs with first-time Head Coaches is very high:
Of the 181 Head Coaching vacancies at FBS, FCS, and D-II institutions over the last three years, 113 of them (62%) were filled by first-time coaches. The average over the last ten years in FBS is 58%, and in the FCS it is 74%. Over the last ten years in D-I and the last three years in D-II, 305 coaches have started their first Head Coaching job, an average of 30 per year. Let’s look at those 305 a bit more closely to see what they were doing the season right before their promotion to see what they might have in common.
First, only 24 (8%) were Assistant Head Coaches the year before they received their own Head Coaching job, and only 12 (4%) were Associate Head Coaches. So having that additional title doesn’t seem to help with getting promoted.
Of the 305, 114 (37.4%) were coaches in the NFL or elsewhere the season before they were promoted, but the majority (62.6%, or 191) worked in the FBS, FCS, or D-II. Of the 305, 71 (23.3%) were an Offensive Coordinator the year prior, and 65 (21.3%) were a Defensive Coordinator the year prior. Just 13 (4.3%) were a Special Teams Coordinator. That leaves 42 coaches of 305 who jumped over being a coordinator, moving from being a position coach to a Head Coach.
As you can see, the majority are on the offensive side of the ball. In the last ten seasons, no FBS, FCS, or D-II coaches who were strictly position coaches for Cornerbacks, Safeties, the Secondary, or the D-Line received 1st-time Head Coaching jobs.
On the other side of that coin, of the 726 coaches head coaches we studied, 92 of them (12.7%) left their Head Coaching job and took a Coordinator or Position Coach job in the FBS, FCS, or D-II the very next season. The former Head Coach took another position in the same division but at a different institution 56.5% of the time. (Interestingly, 5% of the time the coach stayed on at the same institution.) 28% of the time, the former head coach took another position one division up (from D-II to FCS, or from FCS to FBS), and 10% of the time the former head coach took another position two divisions up (from D-II to FBS). Only 1 former head coach out of the 92 took a non-Head Coaching position at a lower division, moving from FBS to FCS.
So while losing a head coaching job might seem like a demotion, most times the former head coaches ended up in positions in that could be considered lateral moves depending on the circumstances, and nearly 40% of the time made moves that could be considered an upgrade.