Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer – Who is the Better Choice for the Browns?

This past weekend, rumors began to circulate that the Cleveland Browns are interested in bringing Marty Schottenheimer back to be their head coach in 2009. Earlier this season, rumors began to run rampant that the Browns are also interested in former Scottenheimer assistant and Steelers head coach Bill Cowher.

(Update 12/10 8:00am: ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting this morning that he thinks the Browns will make an offer to Bill Cowher, but that the Cowher will turn it down. Some people think that Cowher is simply using the Browns to gain leverage and keep his name top of mind for if and when he does want to return to coaching. Midwest Sports Fans writer JRod is reporting who gives a crap. This is the time of year when everyone in the NFL lies about everything — injuries, draft boards, job interest, etc. No one knows what Cowher will do, but there is genuine interest. Good enough for me. Now back to the post.)

No one knows who will be coaching the Cleveland Browns in 2009, or even who will end up interviewing for the job; but what has become unfortunately clear this season is that Romeo Crennel will not be back. I love Romeo Crennel, and I know that his players love him as well; and I wish that he was the right man for the job. But it is hard to come up with any type of rationale or reason for why he should continue as the Browns head coach.

So with that being said, I have decided to stack Bill Cowher and Marty Schottenheimer up next to eachother to see which coach would be the better choice for the Browns, using 11 carefully selected categories that are all extremely important indicators of their potential for success in Cleveland.

Here we go…

Place of Birth:

Marty Schottenheimer was born in Canonsburgh, PA. Bill Cowher was born in Crafton, PA.

Advantage: Push – to hell with Pennsylvania. This is the Browns we’re talking about.Marty Schottenheimer Could Coach for Cleveland



Marty Schottenheimer went to school at Pitt. Bill Cowher went to NC State.

Advantage: Bill Cowher – at least he didn’t go to…ugh…Pittsburgh. Guilt by association for Schottenheimer.


Professional Football Playing Career:

Marty Schottenheimer was a seventh round draft pick of Buffalo Bills, then in the AFL. He played four seasons with the Bills, including their AFL Championship team in 1965 when we made the AFL All-Star Team. He also played two seasons with the Boston Patriots and was then traded twice in the 1971 offseason before retiring.

Bill Cowher signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 1979. In 1980, he signed with the Browns, where he played from 1980-1982. He was then traded back to the Eagles and played there from 1983-1984.

Advantage: Push – Schottenheimer had more success, but it was before the merger and Cowher played for the Browns.


Regular Season Head Coaching Record:

Marty Schottenheimer has been the head coach for four teams: the Browns, the Chiefs, the Redskins, and the Chargers. His combined W/L record is 200-126-1, which is good for a .613 winning percentage.

Bill Cowher has been the head coach for one team: the Pittsburgh Steelers. His regular season record during his Steelers tenure was 149-90, which is good for a .623 winning percentage.

Advantage: Bill Cowher


Postseason Head CoBill Cowher From Steelers to Browns?aching Record:

Marty Schottenheimer has a putrid 5-13 postseason record, which is only a .278 winning percentage. He has never reached a Super Bowl. He did coach in 3 AFC Championship games, and twice with the Browns — and we all remember how those turned out.

Bill Cowher has a rather sterling 12-9 postseason record and has one Super Bowl title in two appearances. He has also coached in 7 AFC Championship games.

Advantage: Bill Cowher



Marty Schottenheimer has at least a .500 record for each of the four teams that he has coached for. If you take out his 8-8 tenure in Washington, Schottenheimer’s worst performance was in San Diego, where he went 47-33 (.588). Marty Schottenheimer has proven that no matter what team he coaches for, on either coast, in either conference, and no matter what the situation is when he gets there, he will turn that franchise into a consistent playoff contender.

Bill Cowher has been the head coach for one team, in one city, and for only one owner. He was superb as the coach of the Steelers, but we have no other history to go on to project his ability to adapt to a new circumstance.

Advantage: Marty Schottenheimer


Funniest Photoshopped Picture in first five pages of Google Image Search:

This picture of Marty Schottenheimer seems to suggest that he needs or takes Ritalin. The Photoshop work (not done by Midwest Sports Fans) is shoddy at best:

Marty Schottenheimer to the Browns?

(Here is the original source:

This picture of Bill Cowher is completely ridiculous, makes no sense, and while the Photoshop work (not done by Midwest Sports Fans) is better, it is overall far, far funnier than the picture above.

(Here is the original source:

Advantage: Bill Cowher


Best Angry Face:

Marty Schottenheimer can certainly get angry with the best of them, but Bill Cowher has the most famous angry face of all NFL coaches this side of Jon Gruden.

Advantage: Bill Cowher


Dorkiest Picture available online:

In this photo, Bill Cowher has a grin on his face so cheesy it would make this guy cream in his pants:

Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer

(This photo is from

Marty Schottenheimer, on the other hand, looks like a high school chemisty teacher with damaged retinas who is counting down the minutes until he can get back to his Bunsen burners and graduated cylinders.

Marty Schottenheimer - Cleveland Browns

(This image is from Getty Images. Here is the original source.)

Advantage: Push


Fashion Sense:

Bill Cowher’s choice of a sweater for the press conference in which he announced his resignation as coach of the Steelers is legendary. No one was quite sure if Cowher was trying to be a white Bill Cosby or if a Jackson Pollack painting and a Picasso painting were making love around his torso.

Bill Cowher And His Magic Sweater

(This photo courtesy of

The following picture of Marty Schottenheimer proves that Marty is not quite Versace either. The bright white shoes and above-the-knee shorts are bad enough, but the hat tops it off. We’ll give him a pass on the hat under the assumption that he may have sensitive to the sun in his advancing age.

Marty Schottenheimer may come back to Cleveland

Advantage: Push – and who cares about their fashion sense? They’d be coaching in Cleveland for goodness sake.


Coaching Tree:

Marty Schottenheimer’s coaching tree includes Bill Cowher, Herm Edwards, Tony Dungy, Mike McCarthy, Wade Phillips, and Cam Cameron, among others. Former Cowher assistants such as Jim Haslett, Mike Mularkey, Ken Whisenhunt, and Dick LeBeau have all been NFL head coaches of varying success.

Advantage: Marty Schottenheimer – he gave Bill Cowher his first job, so if NFL coaching was a
multi-level marketing organization, all of Cowher’s tree would count for Schottenheimer.

And that’s it.

The final tally is 2 for Marty Schottenheimer, 5 for Bill Cowher, and 4 categories for which neither has distinct advantage.

So, clearly, Bill Cowher is the better choice for the Browns.

In all seriousness, I think he is. In the categories that matter: regular season record and postseason success, Bill Cowher has Marty Schottenheimer beat. The biggest discrepancy is in the postseason. Bill Cowher has proven that he can lead teams deep into the playoffs, and that he can get them over the hump. Marty Schottenheimer, while one of the most successful regular season coaches of all time, has not proven that he can translate regular season success into Super Bowl appearances or victories.

The only criteria that might give you pause as a Browns fan is the fact that Bill Cowher has never proven heBill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer for the Browns can win outside of Pittsburgh. The Steelers won before he was there, and they are winning now that he is gone. Is it possible that the true reasons for the Steelers success lie with the Rooney family and the Steelers organization, and that Bill Cowher is given too much credit? Marty Schottenheimer has taken three difference franchises to the playoffs and has turned moribund franchises into winners.

While this is reasonable to consider, it simply does not trump Bill Cowher’s consistent success in Pittsburgh. And even though any Browns fan would sever their arm just to taste the playoffs again – and Marty Schottenheimer would undoubtedly be able to deliver at least a playoff appearance – Bill Cowher gives you the potential of going all the way, based on what he has proven capable of in the past.

If the Browns are going to make a change, and they are, then why not go for the one with the highest upside, and the one who is younger and could be around longer? That would be Bill Cowher.

The truth is that Browns fans would have reason for genuine excitement and optimism if either Marty Schottenheimer or Bill Cowher is trolling the sidelines of Cleveland Stadium next year. But I think the optimism would be justifiably higher if Bill Cowher is one that ends up getting the job.

Who would be the best choice to coach the Browns in 2009?

View Results

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About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. Much Needed Reality Check says:

    Is there really even a difference?

    You don’t how badly I want to see Cowher land in Cleveburg, so I can enjoy watching you all suffer from the same Marty-Ballitis I did for years with spittin’ Bill. Yes, I wish you the same pain that comes from every early playoff exit, as the sphincter tightens and the coach plays “not to lose” yet again.

    Wait a minute, didn’t you all suffer that same fate back in the ’80s with Marty? Some folks never learn.

    PLEASE Cleveland, take Billy Cowher. Please!

  2. Midnight Writer says:


    Excellent research and well-written articles. But the photos really do the job! I would have to give the dorkiest award to Marty for the mullet he is sporting compared to the dorky photo of Cowher who lookes like one of the nerds in Revenge of the Nerds. (Timeless classic).

    Ironically, Marty spoke about his intentions concerning the Browns head coaching job on Serius Radio and said he didn’t think he would be interested in the head coach job — but that he would be interested in a management job under Browns new head coach Bill Cowher!

    Well, that kind of solves it, doesn’t it?

    And if you had the category of most stubborn: Both of those tough, hard-working men of German-ethnic stock would scorre high. But Marty would edge Cowher out since he is absolutely unmovable when it comes to including family members in his hiring. In Cleveland, it was his brother, Kurt and this time, it is offering up his son, Brian.

    Luckily, Bill Cowher has three daughters who do not want a job in football.

    But what about Brian Billick? The Browns wsanted to hire Billick, then settled for Chris Palmer when the Browns name was attached to the expansion team named the Browns. However, Billick went coached the Browns after they got to Baltimore and was renamed the Ravens.

    Billick has said he did not like the idea of being the first coach of the new expansion team — and who could blame him? Nearly 10 years later the Browns in Cleveland are still f—ed up!

    Midnight Writer

  3. Cowher can be a long term fixture then Shotty. He’s younger and has more experience in the division.

  4. Neither Cowher or Marty are the answer. The goal is to WIN the Super Bowl. Every past Super Bowl winning coach who has gone to another team has never duplicated that success. Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Parcells, Gibbs and Shula to name the ones I can think of all failed with the next team. It took Cowher 15 years to do it with the Steelers and then only with significant help from the officials. Also, of the last 11 winning Super Bowl coaches, 8 were former coordinators who were promoted to head coach. The Browns need the RIGHT young, intelligent and well organized coordinator to step in and turn this team around. I would strongly consider Schwartz (Titans defensive coordinator) or Mike Tice (Parcells loves him).

    • @Dave, your point is well taken, and certainly the historical perspective is persuasive. Schwartz at Tennessee does seem like a good coach, and Jim Harbaugh, Tony Sparano, and Mike Smith are proving this year that first-time head coaches can succeed. I’m not so sure about Mike Tice. He had a boatload of talent in Minnesota but they always seemed to underachieve and play poorly in big games, not to mention the utter lack of discipline inherent in the organization at the time. Perhaps he has learned from his mistakes, but I’d rather not take the chance on finding out in Cleveland.

      I think if the Browns have a chance to grab Bill Cowher, it would be hard to pass up. The guy is proven, and even though they one one Super Bowl, he got there multiple times and made 7 AFC title games. He may not turn things around in one season to get Cleveland to AFC contender status, but I still think going with such a successful known commodity would be a good move for the Browns.

      • @JRod, I forgot about Tice’s lack of discipline at Minn. – good point. And the Browns need a ton of discipline. I’ll stick with Schwartz as my first choice, however. Both Cowher and Marty would make the team better but if they can’t win the big one then it’s just another tease that I am sick of. Between Cowher and Marty, I would side slightly with Marty just because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl and I’m sure still desperatly wants to if given the chance. He would know that this would be his last chance to do it. I just don’t thnk Cowher has the passion or drive to try and do it again. I think it would all be about the money and since he would get the money no matter what he does, it wouldn’t matter.

  5. Bill Dunford says:

    It’s tough to say between the two, but if I were Randy Lerner I would sell the farm on getting them both. Look at Miami after a 1-15 season!!!

    Bill Cowher has the passion and he learned alot of his character traits from Marty. Bill was on the sideline in 1985-1988 with Marty and the chemistry worked great. Kansas City was strong with both of them and Pitt had developed into Marty when he got to Pitt. I favor Marty because he’ll come back with the drive to win the SB, but Bill knows the Steelers better than anybody.

    But Marty was 7-2 against Pitt with the Browns and Cam Cameron is the OC in Baltimore and I’m pretty sure Marty knows him pretty well.

    So in closing i say. Sell the farm, get Marty and Bill. Marty can GM for 8 more years and Bill can rule the AFC North just as he did in Cleveland.

    And don’t get lost in this Rooney HorseSh*t. Rooney’s owned the team in the 80’s when Marty and Bill where in Cleveland and we owned the Steelers then.

    You think they hate Bill when he takes the job? When Bruce Arians was in Cleveland in 2003, Bill Cowher’s Defense man handled him. And Dick Labeau was trained by Cowher, and Cowher was trained by Marty back when he was a player for Marty in Cleveland.

    So you think they hate Bill now? Wait till he owns them after 09!!! And if any of you Pittsburgh Pansies cry about “HOW CAN BILL GO TO CLEVELAND, YOU TRAITOR BOO HOO HOO!!!”

    Just Remember 2 things. If Rooney would have paid him what he wanted in 2006 he would have stayed, and the other is, He played and coached the Browns first and learned what he knows from Marty “Bill even said that 2 years ago before a San Diego game”

    So Randy Lerner… You’ll make you money back, just spend whatever you need to get them both for 09, and we fans will pay the ticket price back to you. We love the Browns but they suck right now and can get much better!!!

    Just look at Miami

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