Super Bowl 2011: Power Ranking All 45 Super Bowl Head Coach Matchups

Joseph ChasanCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2011

Super Bowl 2011: Power Ranking All 45 Super Bowl Head Coach Matchups

0 of 45

    25 Nov 1999: Coach Jimmy Johnson of the Miami Dolphins talks to Emmitt Smith #22 of the Dallas Cowboys as he walks onto the field during the game at the Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins 20-0.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    As the Super Bowl approaches, much of the focus usually goes to the players.

    And that's deservedly so, because after all, without the players, there would be no game.  The players are the ones that people come to see.  They're the ones that make the NFL as exciting as it is.

    But the coaches are always there too, behind the scenes, planning out every little detail.  Winning a Super Bowl is the crowning achievement in any NFL head coach's career.  And if you were to manage to win more than one?  You're an instant legend.

    At Bleacher Report, we thought as we prepare for the 45th edition of the NFL's big game, we'd take a look back at all the coaches who have had the honor of leading their troops into battle at this ultimate contest.  What were the best matchups and which ones are the footnotes of history?

    Forty-five years of NFL history awaits.

45) Super Bowl XX: Mike Ditka vs. Raymond Berry

1 of 45

    26 Jan 1986:  Head coach Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears during the Bears 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Raymond Berry is a Hall of Famer as a player, but his coaching career lasted just six seasons, only two of which were successful.

    In Super Bowl XX, his New England Patriots matched up against the Chicago Bears.  The 1985 Bears were one of the most dominant teams in NFL history, marching through the regular season 15-1 and pitching two shutouts en route to the Super Bowl.

    Their charismatic head coach, Mike Ditka, was seen around the game as a revelation, combining old school toughness with new school schemes.  The result of the mismatch was a lopsided 46-10 final score.

    This ranks lowest not because of either coach individually, but because of the mismatch that the matchup was.

44) Super Bowl XXXV: Brian Billick vs. Jim Fassel

2 of 45

    28 Jan 2001: Head coach Brian Billick of the Baltimore Ravens is doused with Gatorade in the final seconds against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Ravens defeated the Giants 34-7. DIGITAL IMAGE. M
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Neither Brian Billick nor Jim Fassel will go down in history as one of the top coaches of all-time.

    In 2000, Billick was able to take his Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl on the strength of one of the stingiest defenses in years.  Jim Fassel's New York Giants were a very good team, but no match for Ray Lewis and the ballhawking Ravens' defenders.

    The final score was 34-7, with the Giants' lone score coming on special teams.

43) Super Bowl XLIII: Mike Tomlin vs. Ken Whisenhunt

3 of 45

    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates as confetti falls after their 27-23 win against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Mike Tomlin's first trip to the Super Bowl two seasons ago resulted in his first victory, and one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all-time.

    The Steelers looked to be in control early, but eventually they had to score a late touchdown to provide the final margin, 27-23.  Tomlin's future is bright and his stature will only continue to rise with future success.

    Whisenhunt, a former Steeler coaching assistant, changed the culture in the desert, but it hasn't been enough to make the Arizona Cardinals consistent winners.

42) Super Bowl XLIV: Sean Payton vs. Jim Caldwell

4 of 45

    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Head coach Sean Payton  of the New Orleans Saints holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Indianapolis Colts during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo
    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Last year's Super Bowl was a matchup of two first-timers, the Saints' Sean Payton and the Colts' Jim Caldwell.

    Indy was the favorite going into the game, and went ahead early, but the Saints clawed back, and eventually won behind a gutsy onside kick call by Payton to start the second half, and a fourth quarter interception that sealed things.

    Judging through the prism of history, this match-up might hold more weight in a few years, but as for now, it was two coaches who've never been to the Super Bowl before or since.

41) Super Bowl XXXVII: Jon Gruden vs. Bill Callahan

5 of 45

    SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 26:  Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers walks onto the field before Super Bowl XXXVII against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on January 26, 2003 in San Diego, California.  The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 48-
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Jon Gruden is one of the youngest coaches to win a Super Bowl in NFL history, even though he needed to defeat his old team in order to achieve the feat.

    Gruden's Tampa Bay Buccaneers toppled the Oakland Raiders 48-21, to give Gruden some manner of revenge against his old boss, Raiders owner Al Davis.

    Bill Callahan lasted just one more season on the Raider sideline, going 4-12 and getting fired.  The Raiders haven't been the same since.

40) Super Bowl XXXVIII: Bill Belichick Vs. John Fox

6 of 45

    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots holds the Lombardi trophy after defeating the Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Get
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    In his first Super Bowl victory, Bill Belichick's Patriots were the lovable underdogs.  This win established them as the NFL's new Evil Empire.

    The Patriots defeated John Fox's Carolina Panthers 32-29 in what ended up being a surprisingly competitive game, even though the final outcome rarely seemed in doubt.  Fox continued to lead the Panthers until this past season, but was fired after a dismal 2-14 campaign.  Maybe he can change things in Denver.

    As for Belichick, he's become one of the most respected, feared and hated coaches of this generation.  And rest assured, those are all good things.

39) Super Bowl XXXIV: Dick Vermeil Vs. Jeff Fisher

7 of 45

    F363722 56: (NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY) St. Louis Rams head coach Dick Vermeil, left, shakes hands with Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, right, after Super Bowl XXXIV between the Rams and Titans at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, Ja
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Dick Vermeil must have felt that he struck gold when Kurt Warner, a stopgap from Arena football, suddenly turned into the second coming of Dan Marino.

    It was Vermeil's second chance to win the big one, and he made the most of it.  That's not to say it wasn't suspenseful, though.  This game still holds my ranking as the most exciting ending to a Super Bowl ever, with "The Tackle" linking St. Louis and Tennessee forever into the future.

    Jeff Fisher was the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL until being relieved of his duties just last week.  He always seemed to be on the brink of something great, but could never quite get his Titans there.  This was their only Super Bowl appearance.

38) Super Bowl XLV: Mike McCarthy Vs. Mike Tomlin

8 of 45

    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers addresses the media during Super Bowl XLV Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Hey, it's this year's matchup!

    With Tomlin already having one Super Bowl under his belt, and McCarthy's Packers looking like they're going to be quite good for a long time, I have a feeling that when we look back on this game in 10 or 15 years, we'll have a different outlook on both coaches.

    For now, they're both still only getting started, really.  I want to include the winning coach in all the pictures, but as I don't know which one it's going to be yet, I don't want to be accused of favoring either side.  So you get the logo.  Deal with it.

37) Super Bowl XXXVI: Bill Belichick Vs. Mike Martz

9 of 45

    3 Feb 2002:  St. Louis Rams Head Coach Mike Martz, left, and New England Head Coach Bill Belichick shake hands before Super Bowl XXXVI at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. DIGITAL IMAGE.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Ah yes, the good ol' days, when Bill Belichick was a surly, hoodie-wearing coach with no rings.  How much things have changed and how much they've stayed the same in the years since.

    This was another of the most exciting Super Bowls to be played, with Adam Vinatieri igniting his legacy as one of the game's great clutch kickers in the Pats final minute, 20-17 win.

    Mike Martz inherited the Kurt Warner-led Rams from Dick Vermeil, but couldn't quite climb the mountain with them.  He's now an assistant with the Chicago Bears.  Maybe he'll eventually get another chance to be a head coach in the future.

36) Super Bowl XXIX: George Seifert Vs. Bobby Ross

10 of 45

    29 Jan 1995:  Head coach George Seifert (center) of the San Francisco 49ers pauses during fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida.  The 49ers won 49-26.     Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    George Seifert and Steve Young are inextricably linked to each other.

    Seifert succeeded the legendary Bill Walsh as 49ers head coach and, at around the same time, Young succeeded the equally legendary Joe Montana as the Niners starting quarterback.  Both had to get their title to once and for all step out of the very tall shadows of their predecessors.

    Well, they got it, in a convincing 49-26 thrashing of the San Diego Chargers.  The San Diego coach, Bobby Ross, never had much success after this, failing to ever win another playoff game.

35) Super Bowl XVI: Bill Walsh Vs. Forrest Gregg

11 of 45

    3 Nov 1985:  San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh looks on during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won the game, 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Tony Duffy  /Allsport
    Tony Duffy/Getty Images

    Yes, there was a time before Bill Walsh was a legend.

    He was just a guy with a lot of ideas about how to fix a franchise that hadn't seen much success.  Well, he fixed it alright, and it started here, at Super Bowl XVI.  The Niners 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals gave them their first Super Bowl title and was the start of a dynasty that would make the 49ers the definitive team of the 80s.

    Forrest Gregg has a great name, but this was his only successful season as an NFL head coach.

34) Super Bowl XXVII: Jimmy Johnson Vs. Marv Levy I

12 of 45

    31 Jan 1993:  Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson celebrates after Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  The Cowboys won the game, 52-17. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    The first matchup between Jimmy Johnson and Marv Levy in the Super Bowl was over at halftime.

    The Cowboys cruised to a 52-17 manhandling of the AFC-champion Buffalo Bills.  The performance cemented Johnson's legitimacy as the successor to the great Tom Landry, and signaled the birth of a new dynasty that would capture three Super Bowls during the early 1990's.

    After coming so close in his first crack at a ring, Bills coach Marv Levy seemed to be getting further and further away.

33) Super Bowl XXVIII: Jimmy Johnson Vs. Marv Levy II

13 of 45

    30 Jan 1994:  Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson looks on during Super Bowl XXVIII against the Buffalo Bills at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Cowboys won the game, 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    This game was the only time two teams and two coaches have faced off against one another in consecutive Super Bowls.

    There were no surprises this time around, and it was a bit more competitive for half the game.  Buffalo actually went into the locker room at halftime with a 13-6 lead, and it looked like Levy would finally turn the tables and win one of these, but it was not to be.  Dallas outscored Buffalo 24-0 in the second half and won going away, 30-13.

    Jimmy Johnson rode off into the sunset after this one.  He returned with the Miami Dolphins, but could never re-create the success he had in Dallas.  But he will always get credit for taking a 1-15 team, and turning them into back-to-back champions.

32) Super Bowl XXIII: Bill Walsh Vs. Sam Wyche

14 of 45

    SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 8:  Head coach Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the sidelines during a game against the Houston Oilers at Candlestick Park on November 8, 1987 in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won 27-20.  (Photo by George Ro
    George Rose/Getty Images

    How would Bill Walsh's legacy appear today were it not for "The Drive"?

    He'd still have been a two-time Super Bowl champion coach, but he wouldn't have had such a perfect ending.  As it is, "The Drive" helped him go out on top.  He's one of only four coaches with as many as three Super Bowls to his name.  He created a movement and has left behind dozens of proteges that have continued to teach the Bill Walsh system.

    While 1988 was Sam Wyche's one glorious season in the NFL, it ended painfully, and the Bengals really haven't been the same since.

31) Super Bowl XXX: Barry Switzer vs. Bill Cowher

15 of 45

    TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 28:  Head coach Barry Switzer of the Dallas Cowboys gets escorted through the field after the Cowboys victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX at Sun Devil Stadium on January 28, 1996 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Cowboys won 2
    George Rose/Getty Images

    This is one matchup where, looking back on it 15 years later, we appreciate the coach who lost the game more than the one who won it.

    Barry Switzer inherited the dominant Cowboys of the 90s left behind by Jimmy Johnson and rode them to a Super Bowl title in 1995, his second season at the helm.  But he didn't leave behind much of a legacy after that, coaching for just two more seasons.

    Bill Cowher, meanwhile, was a young, 38-year-old head coach in just his fourth season after taking over for the legendary Chuck Noll.  He lost this game, but it was just the beginning for him.  He would go on to lead the Steelers to nine division titles, and finally got his own Super Bowl title a decade later, in Super Bowl XL.

30) Super Bowl XIV: Chuck Noll vs. Ray Malavasi

16 of 45

    Chuck Noll became the first and, to this day, the only coach in NFL history to win four Super Bowls with his Steelers' 31-19 triumph in Super Bowl XIV.

    Their opponents that day, the Los Angeles Rams, were led by Ray Malavasi, whose coaching tenure in the NFL lasted just six seasons.  He should get a good deal of credit, however, for leading the 1979 Rams to the Super Bowl after a 9-7 regular season.

    Noll would continue to coach for another decade, but would never again taste ultimate victory.

29) Super Bowl XLI: Tony Dungy vs. Lovie Smith

17 of 45

    MIAMI - FEBRUARY 02:  (L-R) Head coaches, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts pose together with the Super Bowl Trophy during a press conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on February 2, 2007 in Miami, Flori
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Tony Dungy rode off into the sunset a few years back, satisfied with his body of work, and who can blame him?  His win in Super Bowl XLI was the cap on years of success with Tampa Bay and Indianapolis.

    After missing the playoffs two of his first three seasons as a head coach, he never missed them again, leading his teams to 10 seasons of double-digit wins in 13 years.  He installed a system in Indy that continues to work to this day (admittedly, having Peyton Manning helped).

    Lovie Smith is still adding to his coaching resume, but it's already a successful one, with a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, and a conference championship appearance this year.  The Bears look to be a contender for the foreseeable future.

    This game was also notable for finally providing the NFL with a black Super Bowl winning head coach.

28) Super Bowl XXXIII: Mike Shanahan vs. Dan Reeves

18 of 45

    31 Jan 1999: Head coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos watches from the sidelines during the Superbowl XXXIII against the Atlanta Falcons at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Broncos defeated the Falcons 34-19. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Dan Reeves got one final crack at adding his name to the list of champions, but it was not to be.

    Reeves led the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl in the 1998 season, nine years after he had last taken the Denver Broncos there.  He would suffer the same fate as in his prior three appearances, however, dropping a 34-19 decision to the Denver Broncos.

    Mike Shanahan became just the fifth head coach to win back-to-back titles, and the first to do it since Jimmy Johnson with the Dallas Cowboys of the early 90s.

27) Super Bowl V: Don McCafferty vs. Tom Landry

19 of 45

    This matchup might rank much higher if McCafferty had coached longer.  He led the Colts to the win in Super Bowl V in his first season on the sidelines, getting the better of the soon-to-be legendary coach Tom Landry and his Cowboys, 16-13.

    As it was, he would last just another season-and-a-half in Baltimore, fired for not benching quarterback Johnny Unitas.  And he tragically died after a heart attack in 1974.  But he is credited with molding the 1970 Colts into a hard-nosed unit that was greater than the sum of its parts.

    Landry would win his first Super Bowl the very next season.

26) Super Bowl XXXIX: Bill Belichick vs. Andy Reid

20 of 45

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 06:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches his team during warm-ups before the start of Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles at Alltel Stadium on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Belichick won his third title in four seasons with the Patriots 24-21 triumph in Super Bowl XXXIX.  The game firmly established the New England Patriots as a modern dynasty and cemented Belichick's place in the firmament of great coaches.

    On the Eagles' sideline, Andy Reid had finally gotten his team over their conference title game hump, but couldn't clear the final hurdle.  He's still adding to his legacy, however, and the Eagles are always a threat to get back there.  With Jeff Fisher out in Tennessee, Reid is now the longest-tenured current head coach in the league.

25) Super Bowl XXXII: Mike Shanahan vs. Mike Holmgren

21 of 45

    25 Jan 1998:  Coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl  XXXII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Mike Shanahan ended years of frustration in Denver by leading the Broncos to a dramatic 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.  The win also ended a 13-year stretch of NFC dominance, and finally got the monkey off of quarterback John Elway's back.

    Holmgren was the favorite in the game, leading his defending champion Packers.  But Elway's grit, highlighted by a remarkable spinning goal line dive, highlighted the never-say-die attitude that epitomized the Broncos that season.

    The game is also notable for being Brett Favre's second-and-final appearance in the Super Bowl.

24) Super Bowl XLII: Tom Coughlin vs. Bill Belichick

22 of 45

    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants congratulates Osi Umenyiora #72 during Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by D
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    In a game that will forever stand with Super Bowl III as one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history, the New York Giants prevented the New England Patriots from finishing off an undefeated season.

    Tom Coughlin gets kudos for expertly leading his team through the playoffs, winning three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl, before toppling the Pats, 17-14, behind the strength of a ferocious pass rush and one miracle play.

    Bill Belichick's resume, however, should not be stained by this loss.  It's still pretty remarkable, with three Super Bowl titles already, and perhaps more still to come in the future.

23) Super Bowl XL: Bill Cowher vs. Mike Holmgren

23 of 45

    DETROIT - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Bill Cowher of the Pittsburgh Steelers shakes hands with head coach Mike Holmgren of the Seattle Seahawks before the start of Super Bowl XL at Ford Field on February 5, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Harry How/Get
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Cowher finally got his long overdue title in Super Bowl XL, and he did it against another of the best coaches of the modern era, Mike Holmgren.

    Sure, there was controversy around some of the calls in the game that continues to this day, but Cowher simply took advantage of them, which he's supposed to do as head coach.  This Super Bowl has served as the springboard to another run of Steelers dominance that sees them now in their third Super Bowl in the last six years.

    Holmgren was nearing the end of his run in Seattle, and while he didn't claim the ultimate prize there, he still enjoyed a very successful string of seasons unmatched before or since in Seahawks history.

22) Super Bowl XXVI: Joe Gibbs vs. Marv Levy

24 of 45

    26 JAN 1992:  WASHINGTON HEAD COACH JOE GIBBS ON THE SIDELINE DURING THE REDSKINS 37-24 VICTORY OVER THE BUFFALO BILLS IN SUPER BOWL XXVI AT THE METRODOME IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell/ALLSPORT
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Joe Gibbs reached heights in this game that had only been reached by two other coaches previously, and just one since.  He won his third Super Bowl, joining Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh among the truly elite (Bill Belichick would join later).

    The 37-24 victory was the second of four straight Super Bowl defeats for Marv Levy's Buffalo Bills.  That team still fails to get its full due nearly 20 years later, but Levy expertly guided it through multiple playoff runs when they weren't the favorite.

21) Super Bowl XV: Tom Flores vs. Dick Vermeil

25 of 45

    Flores established himself in this game as a worthy replacement for John Madden, winning the first of two Super Bowl titles of the 80s for the Raiders, 27-10 over the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Dick Vermeil led the NFC-champion Eagles, and although it would take him quite some time to cement his own legacy in the coaching pantheon, he would, with the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

    Coincidentally, this game featured the exact same score, in the exact same stadium, as Super Bowl XII three years earlier.

20) Super Bowl XII: Tom Landry vs. Red Miller

26 of 45

    Red Miller spent four seasons on the sidelines for the Denver Broncos, and is notable for making the Super Bowl in his first season.  Unfortunately for him, he went up against the Dallas Cowboys and Tom Landry.

    It was a mismatch from the start, and Landry's more experienced squad rolled over Miller's Broncos, 27-10.  The win placed Landry among the NFL's truly elite coaches to have won multiple championships, and his presence in this game elevates it in this list.

    The Broncos franchise would have to go through many more disappointments before finally breaking through on the ultimate stage.

19) Super Bowl XXIV: George Seifert vs. Dan Reeves

27 of 45

    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 28:  Head coach George Seifert of the San Francisco 49ers and his coaching staff stands on the sideline in Super Bowl XXIV against the Denver Broncos at Louisiana Superdome on January 28, 1990 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The 49ers wo
    George Rose/Getty Images

    It was the highest scoring game, and the biggest blowout, in Super Bowl history.  The San Francisco 49ers dismantled the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.

    At the time, you could say that Seifert was riding on the coattails of the legendary coach who came before him, Bill Walsh, who built the Niners into the franchise they had become.  Seifert simply inherited it.  But he would prove himself more than capable in his own right, leading the team to double-digit wins in every season he was at the helm, and even winning another Super Bowl, as well.

    Dan Reeves quest to finally get that ring was squashed in this one, his third of four Super Bowl defeats.

18) Super Bowl II: Vince Lombardi vs. John Rauch

28 of 45

    Lombardi's glorious tenure leading the Packers came to an end with this 33-14 victory in Super Bowl II.

    The game was the culmination of everything he had taught his team in nine seasons at the helm, and they executed his vision to perfection.

    John Rauch's Oakland Raiders had an impossible task on this day, and the matchup wasn't exactly the most compelling.  But the stature gets raised simply because of the presence of Lombardi.

17) Super Bowl XXXI: Mike Holmgren vs. Bill Parcells

29 of 45

    26 Jan 1997:  Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Holmgren celebrates after Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Packers won the game, 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    One of the best recent coaching matchups in the Super Bowl came at the end of the 1996 season.

    Mike Holmgren took the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers back to the big game for the first time since the days of Lombardi, when he faced off against Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots.  Parcells was making his third Super Bowl appearance with his second team, both feats which Holmgren would eventually achieve as well.

    Holmgren would eventually prevail this time, 35-21, in the final year of a 13 season run of dominance for the NFC.

16) Super Bowl III: Weeb Ewbank vs. Don Shula

30 of 45

    Super Bowl III still holds an allure as one of the most memorable in history, not because of how compelling the game itself was, but because of the intrigue surrounding it.  Brash young Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a win and followed through, leading his team to a monumental 16-7 upset over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

    The coach of those favored Colts was one Don Shula, in his younger days, before he became everyone's favorite father figure while leading the Miami Dolphins.  It was during these seasons in Baltimore that Shula would refine his coaching strategies that he would use the rest of his unparalleled career.

    But on this day, Weeb Ewbank would help the Jets establish that the AFL needed to be taken seriously once and for all.

15) Super Bowl IV: Hank Stram vs. Bud Grant

31 of 45

    After years leading the Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs to being one of the model teams of the AFL and AFC, Hank Stram finally climbed the ultimate mountaintop when he led his squad to the win in Super Bowl IV.

    The 23-7 victory ended years of almost victories for Stram, who had been denied in the game's inaugural event by Vince Lombardi.

    The almost victories were just beginning for Bud Grant, whose Minnesota Vikings would return to the big game three more times in the coming years, but were denied each and every time.

14) Super Bowl XXV: Bill Parcells vs. Marv Levy

32 of 45

    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27:  Cornerback Mark Collins #25, head coach Bill Parcells, cornerback Everson Walls #28 and assistant coach Bill Belichick of the New York Giants stand on the sideline against the Buffalo Bills during Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium o
    George Rose/Getty Images

    Super Bowl XXV, at the end of the 1990 season, was one of the classic contests in the game's history.  It came down to the play that will forever be known as "Wide Right", when Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a potentially game-winning field goal to let the Giants escape with a 20-19 victory.

    It was the final game on the Giants' sideline for Parcells, who would go on to a number of other coaching stints, all relatively successful, but would never again climb to these heights.

    Marv Levy, on the other hand, was just starting his run of leading the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, a feat unmatched in NFL history.  Unfortunately, they lost all four.

13) Super Bowl XXI: Bill Parcells vs. Dan Reeves

33 of 45

    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 25:  Head coach Bill Parcells of the New York Giants gets carried off the field following the game against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XXI at the Rose Bowl on January 25, 1987 in Pasadena, California. The Giants defeated th
    George Rose/Getty Images

    Using a stout defense led by Lawrence Taylor, Bill Parcells claimed his first championship as the still dark-haired and somewhat baby-faced coach of the New York Giants budding powerhouse at the end of the 1986 season.

    His victims were the Denver Broncos, led by Dan Reeves.  Phil Simms had a nearly perfect day throwing the football, and the Giants won going away, 39-20.

    It would be the first of many title game disappointments for Reeves.  But hey, just getting there is something to be admired.

12) Super Bowl XXII: Joe Gibbs vs. Dan Reeves

34 of 45

    31 Jan 1988:  Joe Gibbs, head coach of the Washington Redskins, (center) watches the game closely during Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos at  Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Redskins won 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Joe Gibbs won his second title at the end of the 1987 campaign, leading the Redskins over the Dan Reeves-led Broncos in a 42-10 shellacking.

    He seemed to do well during strike-shortened seasons, as his first title also came during one.  Whatever kind of season it was, though, Gibbs was a good man for the job.

    Reeves was forever the bridesmaid but never the bride, leading the Broncos and Falcons to four Super Bowl appearances without winning one.  But he's still respected as one of the excellent leading men of his era.

11) Super Bowl XVIII: Tom Flores vs. Joe Gibbs

35 of 45

    Tom Flores' NFL coaching career ended meekly, with three losing seasons in the 90s at the helm of the Seattle Seahawks.  But it began with a roar.

    As head coach of the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders in the 1980s he carried on the legacy created by his predecessors like John Madden, and kept the franchise as a perennial contender.  Super Bowl XVIII was a 38-9 rout over the defending champion Redskins led by Joe Gibbs, and let Flores join the elite ranks of coaches who had won multiple Super Bowls.

    Gibbs didn't hang his head after the loss, and would come back to win two more titles himself.

10) Super Bowl XVII: Joe Gibbs vs. Don Shula

36 of 45

    Joe Gibbs was in just his second season as an NFL head coach during the strike-shortened 1982 season.  Don Shula was already a legend.

    But it was the neophyte who got the better of the matchup in this one, with the Redskins coming out on top, 27-17.  Gibbs would, of course, go on to join Shula among the legendary coaching names, and will forever be associated with Washington football.

    Shula would get one more crack at winning it all, but could never again clear that final hurdle.

9) Super Bowl VII: Don Shula vs. George Allen

37 of 45

    Super Bowl VII was the culmination of the Miami Dolphins' perfect 1972 season.  It was capped by their 14-7 victory over George Allen's Redskins.

    Allen is often overlooked due to this having been his lone Super Bowl appearance, but his teams finished with a winning record in every season, and his career .712 winning percentage is the fourth best in NFL coaching history.

    Shula, meanwhile, is one of the faces on coaching's Mount Rushmore, and his 328 career wins remain the most all time.

8) Super Bowl XI: John Madden vs. Bud Grant

38 of 45

    John Madden had a short, but undeniably brilliant coaching career.  Super Bowl XI was his only Super Bowl appearance, and he made the most of it, leading his Raiders to a 32-14 victory over Bud Grant's perennial runner-up Vikings.

    This was the fourth and final Super Bowl loss for Grant, and though he never reached that highest peak, the Vikings' sustained excellence throughout the 70s is a testament to his skill as a coach and motivator.

    Madden, on the other hand, firmly established the black-and-silver legacy that echoes to this day.  His rough-and-tumble teams played football the way it was meant to be: aggressive and fearless.

7) Super Bowl VIII: Don Shula vs. Bud Grant

39 of 45

    Don Shula's Dolphins were making their third straight Super Bowl appearance, and were going up against Bud Grant's Vikings in their second appearance.

    Miami wasn't undefeated in this season like they were the previous year, but they were essentially the same team and, having already accomplished the feat, didn't really need to prove anything else.

    Grant's championship misery, meanwhile, would only continue after this game in the following years.

6) Super Bowl IX: Chuck Noll vs. Bud Grant

40 of 45

    The Steelers' and Chuck Noll's legend began with a 16-6 victory over Bud Grant's Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX.

    Grant often gets shorted when it comes to credit as a great coach because he never won a Super Bowl, but his teams nevertheless won four conference championships and 11 division titles.  The Vikings won 10 or more games seven times in eight years with Grant as coach, and he is owed a good deal of credit for that run.

    Noll meanwhile deservedly gets the credit for being one of the primary architects of the dynasty that owned the second half of the 1970's.

5) Super Bowl X: Chuck Noll vs. Tom Landry I

41 of 45

    The first meeting between Noll and Landry would become Noll's second straight title with the Steelers.

    The 21-17 win was perfectly suited to the hard-nosed defensive identity that Pittsburgh was trying to establish for itself, and the image would become indelibly linked to those great Steeler teams of the 70s.

    Landry had already won and lost a Super Bowl, and would go on to win and lose another one.  Both teams obviously had great players, but the men on the sidelines towered above them all.

4) Super Bowl XIX: Bill Walsh vs. Don Shula

42 of 45

    STANFORD, CA - JANUARY 20:  Head coach Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers enjoys a victory ride on the field after defeating the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium on January 20, 1985 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by George R
    George Rose/Getty Images

    Bill Walsh was one of the most revolutionary coaches in NFL history.

    He took a traditional bottom dweller and turned them into one of the league's proudest franchises.  Super Bowl XIX came right in the middle of Walsh creating his legendary legacy.  It was his second Super Bowl title and firmly established his West Coast offense as a staple for years to come.

    Shula's had already been around a long time, but he was still the coaching genius who had led the Dolphins to back-to-back Super Bowls in the 70s.  This would be his final appearance in the big game.  It was a metaphorical passing of the torch to the new generation of coaches.

3) Super Bowl VI: Tom Landry vs. Don Shula

43 of 45

    Landry's Cowboys had lost the previous Super Bowl, and were looking to make amends for falling short.  The Man in the Hat had yet to truly establish his legend, but his methods were beginning to reap rewards.

    Shula's Dolphins were on the brink of greatness.  This was the year before the perfect season, and Shula's team would go on to win the next two Super Bowls.

    But they wouldn't win this one.  Landry got his first ring, 24-3.

2) Super Bowl XIII: Chuck Noll vs. Tom Landry II

44 of 45

    This rematch gets the nod over the first Steelers vs. Cowboys Super Bowl because both coaches were that much more renowned by the time 1979 rolled around.

    With the event still in its formative years, both Noll and Landry had already won two Super Bowls, the first and only time so far that that has ever happened.  They were both already legendary figures, and both franchises were already established as two of the elite in the sport.

    The game, as in the first matchup three years earlier, was competitive, with Pittsburgh edging Dallas 35-31.  The battle on the sidelines was as intense as the battle on the field.

1) Super Bowl I: Vince Lombardi vs. Hank Stram

45 of 45

    I give this matchup the top honor partly because it was the first, but also because it was fitting to be the first.

    Vince Lombardi has gone beyond the status of just a legend and has become almost mythical as a man and a coach.  They've even recently opened a Broadway play based on his life.  Had the Super Bowl been around during his entire coaching career, he certainly would have won more than two.  He's still the model by which all football coaches are measured.

    Stram, meanwhile, was no slouch either.  He was one of the cornerstones of the Kansas City Chiefs (nee Dallas Texans) being the dominant franchise in the AFL, and playing the kind of football that forced the more established league to take the young upstart seriously, leading to the merger and the Super Bowl in the first place.  His franchise won two AFL Championships and a Super Bowl.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X