Herm Edwards isn’t the only one to come off a long coaching hiatus
Herm Edwards spent the past nine years on the ESPN studio sets in Bristol. Now, he joins the Arizona State football program and returns to the game for the first time since being fired as the Kansas City Chiefs coach in January 2009.
ASU Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director Ray Anderson heard those that deemed the hire “weird.”
It’s weird because Edwards, who went 54-74 as a coach, stepped away from the game for so long.
How often does this happen? Not very, especially considering the length of a hiatus Edwards took from the coaching profession (though Edwards has challenged the claim he has not been coaching).
Without a database to find such things — that we know of — here is a brief list of head coaches who took at least six years off without coaching and how they performed in their post-hiatus tenures.
Joe Gibbs, NFL
Gibbs won Super Bowl XVII in 1982, his second season as NFL head coach, and led Washington through the 1992 season. The Redskins produced two more Super Bowls (1987 and 1991 seasons) and no fewer than seven wins each year before Gibbs surprisingly retired in March 1993.
He worked as a color analyst for NBC’s pregame show from 1994-97 and oversaw the Joe Gibbs Racing team during his downtime but returned to Washington for another four seasons beginning in 2004.
Record before his hiatus: 134-60 (.691)
Record after his hiatus: 30-34 (.469)
Jack McKeon, MLB
With more than 2,000 games under his belt as an MLB manager, McKeon saw the highs and lows of the profession. The two-time manager of the year in 1999 and 2003 led the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World Series and at 72 years old became the oldest skipper to win a title. He took over that year after Florida fired manager Jeff Torborg, who led the team to a 16-22 start.
McKeon announced he’d step away from his duties after the 2005 season, but in 2011, he was hired by the Marlins as an 80-year-old interim, becoming the second-oldest manager in league history. In the final 90 games of that season, he led Florida to a 40-50 mark.
Record before his hiatus: 1,011-940 (.518)
Record after his hiatus: 40-50 (.444)
Dick Vermeil, NFL
Edwards cited Vermeil as the prime example of a coach returning after a long period off. It was about 15 years between Vermeil’s time coaching the Philadelphia Eagles (1976-82) to jumping back into the NFL with the St. Louis Rams in 1997.
Like Edwards, Vermeil spent the time in between his coaching jobs (1983-1996) working as an announcer for CBS and ABC.
Vermeil won five and then four games in his first two years in St. Louis, but took the Rams to a 13-3 season in 1999. He won the AP Coach of the Year Award that year and, with the help of quarterback Kurt Warner, led St. Louis to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory. Vermeil coached five more NFL seasons after that, leading a Chiefs squad from 2001-2005 before Edwards replaced him in 2006.
Record before his hiatus: 54-47 (.535)
Record after his hiatus: 66-62 (.516)
Doug Collins, NBA
Collins had two prolonged absences from the NBA coaching world. From 1986-89, he coached the Chicago Bulls in the early years of the Michael Jordan Era, taking them to the playoffs each time, including an Eastern Conference Finals defeat to the Detroit Pistons in his final year on the job before being fired.
Over the next five years, Collins worked as a TNT color analyst before jumping back into the league with the Pistons, who were led by Grant Hill. Collins spent 1995-98 in Detroit before being fired in the middle of the 1997-98 season. He took three more years out of the coaching ranks before reuniting with an aged Jordan and the Washington Wizards in 2001-03.
Then came the longest hiatus, which led to Collins’ second TNT stint from 2003-10 before he joined the Philadelphia 76ers for three years.
Record with the Bulls (1986-88): 137-109 (.557)
Record with the Pistons (1995-98*): 121-88 (.579)
Record with the Wizards (2001-03): 74-90 (.451)
Record with the Sixers (2010-13): 110-120 (.478)
Bob Davie, college football
Davie developed his coaching career as linebackers coach with the Arizona Wildcats in 1978-79 and then bounced from Pittsburgh to Tulane to Texas A&M and finally turned an assistant job at Notre Dame into a head coaching role with the Irish from 1997-2001.
But after departing from South Bend, Davie was in the press box from 2002-11 calling games for ESPN and ABC.
He finally got the coaching itch and in 2012 left the Worldwide Leader to coach at New Mexico, where he remains to this day.
Record before his hiatus: 35-25 (.583)
Record after his hiatus: 30-45 (.400)
Chris Ault, college football
The father of the pistol offense and one Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, Ault played for the Wolfpack in the late 1960s before he took the head coaching job in 1976. He had three separate tenures at Nevada, taking 1993 off and coaching in 1994 and 1995 before he stepped aside — though he kept his responsibilities as athletic director.
And for eight years, he remained on the outside looking in before Ault fired coach Chris Tormey in 2004, naming himself coach. He led the Wolfpack for nine seasons — only the first of which was a losing campaign. Ault and Nevada peaked with a 13-1 season in 2010, Kaepernick’s senior year.
He left Nevada for good in 2012 and has worked with the Chiefs as a consultant and an American football team in Italy since.
Record before his hiatus: 171-68-1 (.713)
Record after his hiatus: 63-40 (.611)
With plenty of college and NFL assistant coaching experience on his resume, Davis earned his first head coaching gig with Miami from 1995-2000. He led the Hurricanes — and the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Edgerrin James — to four seasons of nine or more wins, culminating in a 11-1 season and Sugar Bowl victory in 2000 before taking the Cleveland Browns head coaching job in 2001.
As you might’ve guessed, it didn’t go swimmingly there — though it could’ve gone worse by current Browns standards. Cleveland went 7-9 and then 9-7 with an AFC Wild Card Game loss in the first two seasons before a 5-11 campaign in 2003 and a 3-8 start to 2004 led to Davis’ ouster.
Davis coaching at North Carolina from 2007-10 — his wins from 2008-09 were vacated due to NCAA infractions before those led to his dismissal. Then came a layoff that lasted about six years.
Davis acted as adviser for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers briefly but also joined ESPN analyst position to take a job with Florida International, where he went 8-4 in his first season.
Record before his hiatus (including NFL and vacated college wins): 103-78 (.569)
Record after his hiatus: 8-4 (.666)