'He's Our Coach' May Spell Doom

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When asked a couple weeks ago whether he was playing to help coach Brad Childress keep his job, Vikings' tackle Kevin Williams said, among other things, three bone-chilling words: "He's our coach."

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Brad Childress
An Ominous Phrase

A look at when and how often coaches are fired after a player or team executive says "he's our coach" in reference to a coach on the hot seat.
Fired Within.... HOW MANY COACHES %

A Week
6 10%

A Month
6 10%

Six Months
10 16.7%

A Year
3 5%

Two Years
8 13.3%

13 21.8%

Still Around
14 23.3%

This is the "dreaded vote of confidence"—when a player or team executive says, in one way or another, that an embattled coach won't be fired. Most fans, of course, automatically assume that means the coach will be fired. A study by The Count shows that while that's actually not always true, "he's our coach" definitely shouldn't inspire confidence. In the 60 times it's been said about a coach on the hot seat between November 2005-November 2008, that coach was out within two years 33 times.

In 10% of the instances it's said, the coach is gone within a week, and in another 26.7% of the times the coach is out within six months. A classic example was Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith telling reporters "he's our coach" in reference to Brian Hill in April 2007—he was canned in a month. Mr. Smith then said the same thing about new-hire Billy Donovan, but Mr. Donovan left before ever starting.

The Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones situation bucked the trend a bit, with Mr. Jones, the Dallas Cowboys' owner, saying "he's our coach" about Mr. Phillips in January 2008. Mr. Phillips stayed on until getting fired this month. But then there's Lane Kiffin and the Oakland Raiders. Running back Justin Griffith cursed Mr. Kiffin with a "he's our coach" in September 2008, and he was fired two days later.