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D.C. is America's Coaching Graveyard

The senior member of D.C.'s coaching fraternity. This is a 2006 photo. (By Michel du Cille - TWP)

Chatting at 11 a.m. Submit your questions here. Possible topics: Jason La Canfora's departure as Skins beat writer, Tracee Hamilton's arrival as a columnist, the meaning of six WaPo staffers at a June Redskins workout, Nats TV ratings, Spelling Bees, Santana Moss's 30th birthday party, the demise of LeBron and Crosby.

Eddie Jordan's recent introduction as the 76ers head coach got me thinking. There are so many ways to measure D.C.'s recent futility in the so-called Big 4 sports leagues. (I say "so-called" between D.C. United partisans object to the phrase, but that's an argument for another day).

You can look at draft position; the Caps and Nats each have recently earned a No. 1 overall selection, and the Wizards, by rights, should be No. 2 this season. You can look at titles; of the 13 metro areas with at least one NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL franchise, only Minneapolis has a longer title drought, and that by a matter of months. You can look at ownership; recently ranked both the Nats' Ted Lerner and the Redskins' Daniel Snyder among the five worst owner in their respective sports.

Well, here's one more measurement, which might be the most damning of all. Even with Manny Acta still somehow refusing to land on the hot seat, D.C.'s Big 4 coaches have the lowest combined tenure of any of the 10 cities with one team in each sport. If Manny ever leaves us, the combined tenure rankings won't even be close. (If you're wondering whether I did this research late Sunday night under the theory that there was no way Acta would last until today, well, that would just be disrespectful.)

Acta, with something like 931 days of service (about two and a half years), is our quartet's senior member. The other nine cities with one NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL franchise? Only one has a senior member with fewer than three years of service. (Miami, with Fredi Gonzalez.) Many have double Acta's tenure.

Oh, and D.C.'s four current head coaches combined tenure? Call it 2,008 days, or something like five years and four months. Bobby Cox has more than three times that amount, by himself. Two of the teams in question--the Wizards and Caps--have canned coaches mid-season within the past two years. A third, the Redskins, has gone through six coaches in the past nine seasons. That leaves Acta, he of the league-worst record and the 15 losses in 17 games, as the area's pillar of coaching stability.

And so, damned if we don't have a complete lockdown on the "Graveyard of Coaches" title. Yay us.

Combined Coaching Tenure, Big 4 Cities
(Interim coaches are treated as head coaches for the purposes of this list. Increments of less than 30 days are not included. New York, Chicago and San Francisco/Oakland were all excluded, since they have more than one team in at least one of the Big 4 sports)

1. Atlanta, 26 years, 0 months
2. Boston, 21 years, 9 months
3. Philadelphia, 16 years, 5 months
4. Minneapolis, 13 years, 11 months
5. Dallas 12 years, 9 months
6. Detroit, 8 years, 8 months
7. Phoenix, 6 years, 4 months
8. Miami, 5 years, 11 months
9. Denver, 5 years, 8 months (2,110 days)
10. D.C., 5 years, 4 months (2,008 days)

Most Senior Coaching Member, Big 4 Cities
(New York, Chicago and San Francisco/Oakland were all excluded, since they have more than one team in at least one of the Big 4 sports)

1. Bobby Cox, Atlanta, MLB. Hired June 22, 1990.
2. Andy Reid, Philadelphia, NFL. Hired Jan. 11, 1999.
3. Bill Belichick, Boston, NFL. Hired Jan 27, 2000.
4. Ron Gardenhire, Minneapolis, MLB. Hired Jan. 4, 2002.
5. Dave Tippett, Dallas, NHL. Hired May 21, 2002.
6. George Karl, Denver, NBA. Hired Jan. 27, 2005.
7. Mike Babcock, Detroit, NHL. Hired July 14, 2005.
8. Wayne Gretzky, Phoenix, NHL. Hired Aug. 8, 2005.
9. Fredi Gonzalez, Miami, MLB. Hired Oct. 3, 2006 (973 days).
10. Manny Acta, D.C., MLB. Hired Nov. 14, 2006. (931 days)

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 2, 2009; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Nats , Redskins , Wizards  
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Interesting, Dan - and good for you for getting use out of "Manny didn't get fired" research.

What would it look like if you included NY, Chicago, SF in two categories (choosing the longer tenured of the two teams from each sport, so, like Coughlin as the NY Football guy, etc.) or choosing the shorter of the two guys - I'll bet, even if you went with a Jets, Mets, Nets, Islanders NY Big 4, we'd still have less tenure.

For the life of me, though, this spawns a great chicken or the egg discussion - is the tenure short because the coaches stink, or do the coaches stink because the tenure is short and they don't get enough leash?

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 2, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

We are a Big 5 non multi-team city/area...

1. Boston, 21 years, 9 months
2. Dallas 12 years, 9 months
3. Denver, 5 years, 8 months (2,110 days)
4. D.C., 5 years, 4 months (2,008 days)

Posted by: Kev29 | June 2, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

JFK got his thousand days in this town. Why not Acta?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 2, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute, what hockey team resides in SF/Oakland? The Sharks? Well, that's San Jose, 40 miles from SF... about the same distance as DC-Baltimore. By that logic, DC doesn't even qualify within your own criteria and, perhaps, is better compared, Baltimore inclusive, to NY, Chi, SF/Oak. I'm sure the numbers still are not favorable.

Posted by: febc8 | June 2, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

New York, Chicago and San Francisco/Oakland were all excluded, since they have more than one team in AT LEAST ONE of the Big 4 sports.

Posted by: patrick15 | June 2, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

It's an interesting question and interesting data, but I don't know if you can call DC a coaching graveyard based on the current tenure of coaches.

There have been 10 coaching changes in the NHL teams just since the beginning of 2008-2009 season (Chicago, TB, Carolina, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Rangers, Montreal, Minnesota, Edmonton, Calgary) and 9 other changes occured since the Caps bought in Bruce Thansgiving of 2007 (Islanders, Florida, LA, TB, SJ, Colorado, Toronto, Ottawa and Atlanta). So at just a season and a half that makes Bruce more tenured in his position than over half of the current coaches in the NHL.

The Nats have only been around here a couple years and had an ownership change to boot, so it's hard to really count them equally with the other MLB cities.

As far as the Wizards, that's more a timing of when you're calculating thing. Wasn't Eddie Jordan one of the most tenured NBA coaches in their current job when he was fired last fall? I'm not sure on that, but I thought they'd show trivia how only Sloan in Utah and one or two others were in their current job than he was.

The Skins under Snyder are going to change everything regularly, but even saying that, Joe Gibbs wasn't fired, he retired.

Posted by: thrh1 | June 2, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

What I am saying, patrick15, is that if you count the San Jose Sharks as SF/Oak's hockey team,
then Washington-Baltimore (which are the same distance as SF-SJ) also should be in the category of having more than one team in at least one of the Big 4 sports.

If you say that Balt-DC are separate cities, then so are SF/OAK & San Jose. Therefore, the SF/OAK area does not have a team in each of the Big 4.

It's an apples and oranges thing that, ultimately, is neither here nor there.

Posted by: febc8 | June 2, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

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