The end of an era, or the dawn of another?

Photo courtesy of WEBN-TV on Flickr
Photo courtesy of WEBN-TV on Flickr

While the NFL season still has a few weeks left, the off-season festivities are already in full swing. Since the end of the regular season two weeks ago, several notable head coaches have stepped down or retired — officially marking the end of an era for their former franchises. With Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, and Nick Saban all unemployed for the first time in over two decades, the coaching landscape has changed more than ever before.

 

The biggest move came from New England, where the Patriots and Bill Belichick decided to “part ways” after 24 seasons. During his historic career as the Patriots’ head coach, Belichick won 296 games, the second most for one team in NFL history, and six Super Bowls in his nine appearances. Under Belichick, the Patriots became your favorite team’s least favorite team, consistently boasting one of the best defenses in football. When future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady led the offense, the Pats dominated almost any team in their path.

 

After Brady left in 2020, the Patriots regressed significantly, achieving only one winning season over the last four years. Following a 4–13 record in 2023, Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft decided it was time to move on from Belichick. The decline without Brady gave rise to skepticism about whether the Belichick-Brady pair was the key to success, as opposed to Brady alone. With that being said, no matter how talented a player may be, it is impossible to become a champion even once without proper leadership. While the Patriots quickly filled their head-coaching void with former linebacker Jerod Mayo, Belichick continues to interview with other franchises, signifying he’s not ready to retire just yet.

 

Another dynasty across the country came to an end after 14 seasons this offseason when the Seattle Seahawks let go of head coach Pete Carroll. While not as legendary as Bill Belichick, Carroll still had quite the coaching career himself; he led Seattle to the playoffs ten times in 14 seasons, won the Super Bowl in 2013, and came a yard short of winning a second ring the following year. Despite the apparent animosity between Carroll and members of the organization, whom Carroll described as “not football people,” Carroll will remain as an advisor to the team. The split came as a surprise to many, as the Seahawks had a winning record and only barely missed the playoffs in 2023. Next fall, with the additions of just a few key pieces and a new head coach, they could have what it takes to make a deep playoff run. 

 

In the world of college football, another major coaching change transpired: the departure of Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Over the last decade and a half, Saban led the Crimson Tide to six national championships, tied for the most in NCAA history. Now at age 72, after 50 years of coaching at both the collegiate and professional levels, Saban announced his retirement — likely ending a college football dynasty at Alabama. Fresh off a narrow Rose Bowl loss to the eventual national champion Michigan Wolverines, Alabama hopes to keep the Tide rolling by hiring Kalen DeBoer, the former head coach of Washington who lost to Michigan in the national championship game.

 

With so many coaching vacancies across football, we may see these familiar names in unfamiliar places. Belichick has already shown interest in resuming coaching elsewhere, recently interviewing with the Atlanta Falcons — a team he famously beat in one of his six Super Bowl wins. Even the retired Nick Saban may be an available option as a potential head coaching candidate. It wouldn’t be the first time, as just five years ago, NCAA national champion head coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement before swiftly unretiring to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars. 13 games and 11 losses later, he retired again, this time involuntarily.

 

With the off-season still not officially underway, there are sure to be more fireworks to come. Nick Sirianni is in the hot seat following a disappointing first-round exit for the Philadelphia Eagles. Mike Vrabel, just a few years out from an AFC Championship game appearance with the Tennessee Titans, is also available after being unexpectedly fired. Jim Harbaugh may return to the NFL after winning a national championship with the Wolverines. Perhaps most importantly, will Brandon Staley or Arthur Smith ever coach football again? The next few months will go a long way in determining the NFL’s new landscape and potentially mark the beginnings of new dynasties across the league.

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About the Contributor
Ryan Kirton, Contributing Writer
I am a junior majoring in Psychology and Communications and I am on the swim team.
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