Aaron from Augusta, Maine writes: Mr. Sando, I was curious as if you could do some research on NFL head coaches coming from big college programs, such as Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, and their first drafts draft as head coach.
Any evidence to show their new NFL teams drafting an unusually high amount of players from their former schools? Pete Carroll seems to have more control over personnel than most of these other coaches, but thought it could give Seahawks fans an idea about the amount of former Trojans heading to the Northwest. Thank you and keep up the good work.
Mike Sando: Good idea. Carroll actually downplayed USC talent the other day, suggesting during an interview with KJR950 Seattle that he was surprised so many of his former players became first-round picks. It's potentially self-serving for him to suggest he won with talent that wasn't as good as advertised, but I didn't get the feeling Carroll was eager to rush out and draft a bunch of former USC guys.
This is the sort of project I'd like to spend a little more time on, but for the sake of answering your question quickly, I singled out four of the coaches you mentioned and crunched some numbers using my draft database. Steve Spurrier, Butch Davis, Nick Saban, Dennis Erickson and Jimmy Johnson each spent relatively short periods of time with their first NFL teams. For this reason, I looked at all of their NFL drafts, not just those associated with their first seasons. I figured these coaches would have been familiar with most or all of the college players leaving their former programs during the time periods in question.
I did not consider Switzer because the Cowboys hired him several years after he left Oklahoma.
Johnson's Cowboys drafted more players from Miami -- seven -- than from any other college program. Florida was next at four, followed by Penn State and Tennessee with three apiece. Johnson could have had special insight into the Miami players after coaching the Hurricanes. It's also true that lots of teams drafted players from Miami. We'll see that as this exercise continues.
Spurrier's Redskins drafted two players from Tennessee and one apiece from 11 other schools, including the Florida program he left.
Davis' Browns drafted four players from Miami, more than from any other program, during his run as Cleveland coach. They drafted three apiece from Virginia Tech, Florida and Boston College.
Erickson, who left the Hurricanes for Seattle in 1994, drafted only one player from Miami, 1997 seventh-rounder Carlos Jones, in four seasons with the Seahawks. Seattle drafted three from Florida and two from four other schools while Erickson was head coach through the 1998 season.
Saban's Dolphins drafted one player from the LSU program he departed. They drafted two from Auburn, more than from any other program, and one apiece from 10 schools (including LSU).
Hope that helps.