It is hard to be successful as a coach at the collegiate level or NBA level. To be successful at both is damn near impossible. Only two coaches have won a National Championship and gone on to win the Super Bowl, both with the Dallas Cowboys.
Jimmy Johnson led Miami to a National Championship, then the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories. Barry Switzer won 3 National Championships with Oklahoma before being handed the keys to Jimmy’s Cowboys dynasty and walking into a Super Bowl championship. (Paul Brown won an NCAA Championship at Ohio State and NFL Championships with the Cleveland Browns in the 50′s).
It’s even harder in the NBA.
Larry Brown is the only coach to win a national championship at the NCAA level and an NBA Championship. (1988 at Kansas and 2004 with the Detroit Pistons)
Yet for some reason professional sports franchises keep poaching college coaches. The Seahawks have former USC head coach Pete Carroll, the Philadelphia Eagles signed former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and now the Boston Celtics have hired Butler’s Brad Stevens.
From Larry Brown’s interview with Bill Reiter at Fox Sports:
“The games are completely different,” he said. “When you’re at a college game, in the second half you probably have to make two or three decisions late. In a pro game you probably make 30. And you times that by 100, and then times that by 30, and there’s a huge, huge difference. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint. College has much fewer games. In the NBA, a lot of these great college coaches — I coached young guys who lost more games in a two-week period than they did their whole college careers. So that’s no fun. That’s a huge adjustment for coaches, too. That’s not easy.”
How hard is it?
“Jerry Tarkanian took over for me in San Antonio and didn’t last 30 games,” Brown said.
The one thing that helps Brad Stevens, and Chip Kelly for that matter, are the fact that they didn’t win National Championships in college despite coming close.
But according to Brown the key will be the assistants Stevens surrounds himself with.
“Now here’s the challenge for Boston,” Brown said. “It’s really vital they put people around Brad who are there to help him grow, who don’t feel they should be the head coach. I always get confused when they hire these head coaches or ex-players players and say, ‘We have to get an older guy next to them to help them. I always thought that was ass backwards. Brad’s done practice plans. He’s broken down films. He’s started from the very bottom. He knows how to coach. So now the challenge for [Celtics GM] Danny [Ainge] is to surround Brad with guys who only care about making sure Brad Stevens is the greatest coach he can be.”