Andy Reid and Tom Osborne are traveling the same road
Andy Reid’s late-career success mirrors the incredible run of a college football legend: Tom Osborne.
Andy Reid has always been a fantastic coach, even before he won his first Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LIV.
As a coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, he won nearly 60 percent of his games and played in five NFC Championships and one Super Bowl. For the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s been even better. In seven seasons with the team he’s won nearly 70 percent of his games, hosted the franchise’s first two conference championship games, and helmed the franchise to its second Super Bowl and first in 50 seasons.
Reid was always a great coach, but now he has a chance to be mentioned as one of the greatest of all time. He is currently seventh all-time in regular season wins. Bill Belichick is the only active coach with more regular season wins. At his current pace of nearly 10 wins per season, it will take him less than four and a half seasons to pass Tom Landry for fourth all time. To pass George Halas and Don Shula would take more than twice that, so given both Reid’s age and the fact that Belichick is still coaching it’s likely he’ll finish comfortably in fourth place.
Regular season wins aren’t enough, though. As Chiefs fans, we’ve learned that throughout Reid’s tenure. The sentiment always went, “Andy Reid is one of the greatest coaches to never win a Super Bowl.” Some even thought he’d be questionable for the Hall of Fame without one. Those questions have now been answered, but the one that has now emerged is “how much further can he go?”
I’ve used this analogy before, but Reid’s coaching record reminds me a lot of Tom Osborne‘s coaching record—especially now that he is a Super Bowl champion. Osborne is widely considered among the college football coaching greats like Knute Rockne, Barry Switzer and Bear Bryant. He’s one of the most beloved citizens of Nebraska, and that place has been earned through blood, sweat and tears.
The irony is, just like Reid, Osborne was once regarded as a great coach who couldn’t win the big game. Osborne took over a Husker football program in 1973 at the height of the college football world. As the offensive coordinator to Bob Devaney for several years, he was the obvious pick to take the helm upon Devaney’s retirement. Many expected him to continue the winning tradition, and he did. However, the championships wouldn’t come until many years later.
The aforementioned championship drought would stretch 21 seasons, and would include multiple trips to the national championship that ended mere inches from victory. There were serious questions about Osborne, with some giving up all hope that he would ever bring championship glory back to the Huskers.
When the drought finally ended, Osborne and the Huskers left no doubt that he was the right coach for the job. Starting in 1994, the Husker football program would win three of the next four national championships and dominate college football like few teams ever had. They would go undefeated in 1994, 1995, and 1997 with a total four-year record of 49-2.
This comparison is fitting because, before Sunday, there were self-respecting analysts who believed that Andy Reid was actually too old to win a championship. There’s this odd belief that if a coach doesn’t win a championship early in his career, it gets less and less likely as time goes on. In reality, winning can happen at any time if a coach is in position to make a run. Tom Osborne and now Andy Reid are both great examples of that.
Like Osborne led the Husker football program on one of the most dominant stretches in sports history, Andy Reid is set to do the same. He finally has the signal caller to pair with his brilliant offensive schemes, and a defense that is only getting better with time. I can’t tell the future, but I have a feeling we’ll look back on the twilight of Reid’s career as one of the greatest stretches in NFL history.