How Much Does NFL Coaching Experience Really Matter?

Matt BowenAnalyst IISeptember 19, 2012

May 29, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh during organized team activities at the San Francisco 49ers training facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL is currently undergoing change that is reshaping the future of the league. Star running backs are an afterthought, replacement referees will inevitably change the course of history and first-time NFL coaches are in high demand. 

It's long been known that the NFL is a copycat league and fresh faces leading NFL organizations are what's in right now. Gone are the days where GM's look for an experienced coordinator with a proven track record to take over their team. Yes, this season brought seven new head coaches to the NFL, six of which had previous NFL experience, but recycled coaches will become a thing of the past.

There's something about an NFL coach who's already failed elsewhere that is underwhelming. What was the initial reaction of New York Jets fans when the team named Tony Sparano as their new offensive coordinator in the offseason? Known for the Wildcat offense, which was more of a shooting star than anything else under in Miami, Sparano's appeal seems to be more of a gimmick than anything else.

Why would a team take on a coach immediately after they've been dismissed by another franchise? Doesn't it seem like their coaching tactics have been exposed? In a game of schemes and numbers, once exposed it's not easy to form a new identity. Ousted NFL coaches will soon be best spending some time away from the game before returning to the sidelines. 

Thanks to immediate impact San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh brought to his team in 2011, franchises will soon be looking to pluck head coaches from the college ranks. While this isn't anything new to the NFL, it will become the predominant fashion. Of course there have been foiled NFL experiments with college coaches, but it takes someone special to be a successful coach at the NFL level. The Niners deserve credit for taking the chance on Harbaugh, who himself deserves equal credit for leaving a prestigious college program and the nation's best quarterback.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took after the 49ers when they made a bold move and hired Greg Schiano this offseason. At the time this was a head scratching move. During his tenure at Rutgers university Schiano brought the program to prominence before quickly fading back to mediocrity. Although Schiano has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since his questionable style of play during Week 2 against the New York Giants, he has given hope to the Bucs organization seemingly overnight. 

What the likes of Harbaugh and Schiano have brought to the NFL is attitude. They've pumped their respective teams full of confidence and have proven that experience at the NFL level isn't everything. 

Harbaugh currently coaches the most feared team in the league. If it wasn't for his personality rubbing off on his men, the Niners wouldn't be Super Bowl at the moment. Schiano may not go 13-3 in his first season as the coach of the Bucs like Harbaugh did with the Niners, but he has his men believing that they'll win. 

It is that new beginning that NFL organizations will be thirsting for, substituting experience for that priceless philosophy that has yet to embrace the NFL. The paradigm shift in the NFL lies in the naming of a first-time coach in the NFL to lead the organization.