OTA's are in full flourish and the attention of Steelers Nation is rightly focused on the South Side for our last bit of news until training camp.
But it is also time for Steelers Nation to rally in support of our Emperor, Chuck Noll.
ESPN is planning a series of the NFL's greatest coaches, and as part of the series they're conducting a fan poll, and Chuck Noll isn't doing as well as he should. He's coming in fifth, which is plenty respectable, but it's who he is behind that is at issue (more on that later.)
So now is the time to do your duty as a citizen of Steelers Nation, go to ESPN and vote for Chuck Noll.
Simply voting for Noll isn't sufficient.
You need to vote early and vote often. ESPN is trying to limit that (probably via cookie tracking) so you'll need to:
- Vote from multiple Browsers (Google Chrome, FireFox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera etc...)
- Vote from multiple devices (iPad, Desktop, laptop, notebokk, Nook, iPhone etc....)
- Vote from work (assuming you won't get in trouble)
Doing all of that is all well and good but alas, it is not quite enough. To really boost Chuck Noll's cause, you should bullet vote. ESPN is listing 50 candidates and inviting you to vote for 20. You bullet vote by voting vote for less than 20.
At a minimum, that means not voting for Bill Walsh or Bill Belichick
- Have faith that your efforts count.
With a few limited efforts (Ivan Cole's mention in the Check Down, Tony Defeo's post at Pittsburgh's Best Sports blog), Chuck Noll's percentage has improved from 58.8 to 59.0 while the directly ahead of him, Shula, Belichick, and Walsh are slipping, while those immediately below Noll were holding steady as of Monday May 20th. And since ESPN has begun pushing the poll on its home page, Noll is doing even better.
The Case for Chuck Noll
Many factors influence polls like this. Chuck Noll's current 5th placement isn't bad considering he almost actively worked at having frosty relations with both the local and national press (with the exception of Myron Cope.)
Vince Lombardi is coming in first, and nary an ill word about Lombardi will be mentioned here. Had Art Rooney Sr. pink slipped Buddy Parker after 1957 and hired Lombardi before the Green Bay got him, The Ice Bowl might have just been played a Forbes Field.
Nor is there any shame in coming in behind Don Shula, although it will be simply stated that Noll did put more hardware in the trophy case than did his friend and mentor.
That leaves Bill Belichick and Bill Walsh, which we now take in turns.
Noll vs. Walsh
The conventional wisdom would hold that no level headed person could possibly make a fact-based argument that Chuck Noll was a better coach than Bill Walsh. Can you really say Chuck Noll was better than Bill Walsh?
Well, yes, you can say when you break it down point by point Chuck Noll vs. Bill Walsh, Noll comes out ahead. You can click on the links for more detailed explanations, but here's the short hand.
"Oh, but Walsh would have won a fourth had he not retired after 1988." That is probably true. Its probably also true that Noll would have won five Super Bowls had Franco and Rocky not gotten hurt in the 1976 playoffs.
But it didn't happen that way, just as Walsh DID only retire with three rings. Super Bowl hardware is a big historical differentiator, and simply math says Noll comes out ahead.
Whereas the Super Steelers grew old together, Walsh kept his squad fresh (and without the benefit of free agency) whereas Noll struggled in this regard.
Seriously, objectivity demands that if we praise Noll for picks like Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, John Stallworth, Rod Woodson, Greg Lloyd and Dermontti Dawson, we also must hold him accountable for picks like Keith Gray, Aaron Jones, Greg Hawthorne, and Darryl Simms.
Nonetheless, when all is said in done Noll's going to have picked more Hall of Famers than Walsh, so this one's a wash.
The Bill Walsh Coaching Tree is a testament to hyperbole and the power of Walsh media apologists. Can someone explain why Walsh gets credit for Mike Shanahan's formation when Shanahan coached for Denver and Oakland during Walsh's tenure in San Francisco?
Why is Tony Dungy (or Mike Tomlin for that matter) even on that tree? Dungy was a coaching prodigy of... well you guessed it, Chuck Noll? Why is John Fox there when he broke into the NFL a year after Walsh retired when Chuck Noll hired him to coach the secondary of the 1989 Steelers? Better question yet: How did any of these man help Walsh win games?
The West Coast offense is what it is, but people forget that Peyton Manning's offense in Indy was run by Tom Moore, who had been Noll's protégé and offensive coordinator...
Joe Montana's passer ratings in 1984 and 1987 were 102.9 and 102.1. Mark Malone's passer ratings in 1984 and 1987 were 73.4 and 46.7. (Yes, that's forty six point seven.) The Steelers play the 49'ers in both seasons. Who won both games?
If you said that Chuck Noll and Mark Malone triumphed over Bill Walsh and Joe Montana both times, you'd be right.
Seems like Chuck Noll was smart enough to guide defenses populated by the likes of Gary Dunn, Eric Williams, John Goodman, Delton Hall, and Lupe Sanchez over the Montana, Rice, Craig et. al and the vaunted "West Coast offense."
That about seals the deal.
Bill Walsh certainly was a great coach.
But clearly the case that Chuck Noll was better is pretty compelling.
Noll vs. Belichick
Unlike Walsh, Noll is up against a coach who is still active, which means he's up against a legion of fans whose only memory is of New England as a perennial contender. But the case can be and it can be done simply.
- Chuck Noll has more Lombardi Hardware than Bill Belichick
Again, this is simple math. Yes, Billy B. could still tie or surpass Noll's Lombardi total. But he hasn't.
Spare the arguments about Super Bowl appearances almost Super Bowl wins.
Lombardi counts are not like high school algebra. No one awards you credit for "showing your work."
Sure, Belichick almost won two Super Bowls. So did Tom Landry. They didn't lump off the bottoms of the Lombardi's for Super Bowl X and Super Bowl XIII to give a hunk to Dallas for taking both contests to the wire.
- Which drives home another point: Chuck Noll won two of his Super Bowls by defeating another team that could rightfully stake a claim to Dynasty.
Billy B can't say that.
Chuck Noll won playoff games with Mark Malone and Bubby Brister.
These arguments are nice, but ultimately unnecessary.
- Chuck Noll's 4 Super Bowl victories are clean.
Bill Belichick is a cheater.
Lest any Patriots troll charge that this is some backdoor excuse for the AFC Championship loses, the Steelers deserved to lose in '01 because of special teams breakdowns and in '04 because Roethlisberger played like a rookie.
No one knows the extent of Belichick's cheating because Roger Goodell
covered up er um destroyed the evidence. Fans can only speculate.
Chuck Noll's record remains untrained. Belichick, to the contrary hasn't won one since he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
I rest my case.
Steelers Nation, do your duty. Go to ESPN and vote for Chuck Noll (and while you're at it, vote for Bill Cowher and why not Mike Tomlin and Tony Dungy too, if the 49er's can have the Walsh coaching tree, then Steelers Nation can have the Noll Coaching Tree.)
Vote early. Vote often. Click here and do it now.