For a while, I've been curious about networks and I really like
college football. I also wanted a fun project to learn a little
bit about d3. So I decided to
try to show which football coaches that had worked on the same
I used Mechanical Turk to put data from
Wikipedia into a more
machine-readable form. Feel free
to use these data for your own projects. However, although I did perused some of it,
THE DATA IN THIS FILE AND THESE VISUALIZTIONS MAY BE INCOMPLETE OR INACCURATE.
A couple of side notes:
These visualizations may not display correctly on any
Internet Explorer version before 9.
A lot of coaches are missing. This is for two
reasons. The first was that I wasn't rigorous about how I
selected coaches, making a haphazard list of names that I
remembered and recognized. The second reason was that all
coaches without any connections were filtered. (For example,
although I have data for Eddie Robinson, no other coach on my
list coached on the same staff as he did; therefore he is not
included in many of the visualizations.)
The look and feel of the adjacency matrix visualization was
almost directly translated from the
Les Miserables co-occurrence display. (Of course, the
code was written from scratch so that I would actually learn
Click on colored boxes below to display where coaches
overlapped. (Color of box matches color of school where first
Because of sampling bias, it's tough to conclude much from these data. If someone were interested in doing additional research, they should start by adding additional data in a principled manner. After that, I'd recommend that they look into the following:
Who are outsiders and why were they hired? Coaches such as Chip Kelly took unusual paths to coaching major college programs. (Kelly was hired as Oregon's offensive coordinator after being New Hampshire's coordinator for two years. Two years after becoming Oregon's OC, he became Oregon's head coach.) Others performed more traditional apprenticeships under
well-known and highly-connected head coaches (eg. Charlie Strong). What caused these different paths and why?
Old-vs-new: According to Wikipedia, Knute Rockne coached at one institution for his entire career. Conversely, many modern coaches have worked on many other staffs. For instance, Nick Saban has worked for 13 different teams.
NFL-vs-college: This list already demonstrates that there has been some cross-fertilization between the NFL and college ranks. I was surprised how little there was (again, may be an artifact of how data were collected). How much separation is there between the pro and college ranks?
The role of high school coaching: Several coaches jumped into college coaching after being high school head coaches (eg. Larry Coker, Urban Meyer, Charlie Weiss, and Gus Malzahan). Many other coaches appeared to begin their careers as graduate assistants in college (eg. Jim Tressel and Kirk Ferentz). How does one go from being a high school coach to college
coaching? Do college coaches scout for coaching talent as well as playing talent from high schools? We know that in some ways college influences the pros (eg the Wildcat formation), do ideas and inventions from the high school game influence those in the college and pro game through coaching hires? Do they influence higher levels at all?
For those curious, I've listed the programs with the most overlaps below: