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Mike Shanahan

Coaching Record

Years Coached Record Win % Playoff record Playoff win %
29 276-186-1 59.72% 18-12 60.00%

Coaching Tree




Early life and Playing Career

Mike Shanahan was born in Oak Hill, Illinois on August 24, 1952 to a homemaker and an electrician. He was a multi-sport athlete at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Illinois, just outside Chicago. He began his football career at quarterback in a wishbone offense for the high school. He held the single-game rushing record for the school with a 15-carry, 260-yard performance against Hinsdale South. Shanahan set the record, since broken, in the 1969 season, a year before he graduated high school.

Shanahan went on to play quarterback at Eastern Illinois University. A hard hit on the field split one of his kidneys in half and his heart stopped beating for more than half a minute. While in the hospital, a priest was summoned to present Shanahan’s last rites. He made a full recovery and entered the world of coaching, something he had wanted to do since he was a boy.

College Coaching Career

Oklahoma Sooners

Upon graduation from Eastern Illinois, he was an offensive assistant for the University of Oklahoma football team in 1975. He was there for one season and coached under the legendary head coach Barry Switzer. Shanahan worked with offensive coordinator Galen Hall. The team ran the wishbone offense, the same set Shanahan quarterbacked in high school. The team finished with an 11-1 record and No. 1 overall with a Big 8 Championship and a 14-6 Orange Bowl, National Championship win over Michigan. It was the first of two collegiate national titles for Shanahan.

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

After his year-long stint with the Sooners, Shanahan moved on to Northern Arizona University as the team’s running backs coach. Shanahan worked with head coach Joe Salem for the Lumberjacks for the 1976 and 1977 seasons. Northern Arizona went 8-3 Shanahan’s first year and 9-3 his second. After his two seasons in Flagstaff, Shanahan moved back close to home to his alma mater Eastern Illinois as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator.

Eastern Illinois Panthers

Shanahan, at 25 years old, worked under Darrell Mudra who was brought on to revive the Eastern Illinois football program. Mudra had come out of retirement to coach the Panthers, as he was intrigued by a challenge. He knew what he was inheriting. Eastern Illinois finished the 1977 season 1-10.

Behind one of the best running backs in D-II, Eastern Illinois made it to the National Championship game where it met Delaware and emerged victorious 10-9 in Longview, Texas. The team finished 12-2 that season and it remains as the only football championship in the school’s history.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

After his short, but successful, coaching time at Eastern Illinois, Shanahan went to the University of Minnesota to fill the Golden Gophers’ offensive coordinator position in 1979. Former Northern Arizona head coach Joe Salem was hired by the Golden Gophers. After two successful seasons together at Northern Arizona, their season in Minnesota was a disappointment, as the team limped to a 4-6-1 record and sixth in the Big Ten conference. After a year to forget in Minnesota, Shanahan took the experience in stride and landed a job in the Southeastern Conference with the University of Florida Gators.

Florida Gators

The Gators went 0-10-1 the year before Shanahan was hired, the worst in school history. In 1980, Shanahan as the offensive coordinator and helped the team to an 8-4 record and a fourth-place finish in the SEC. The team finished ranked No. 19 in the coaches’ poll in 1980, his first year with the team. It was the first time in college football history that a team went winless and earned a bowl bid the following season. The next season, the Gators finished 7-5 and 3-3 in the SEC and tied for fourth place at season’s end, with a loss to West Virginia in the peach bowl to finish the season.

In Shanahan’s final year at Florida, 1983, the team enjoyed its most success in his time in Gainesville. The team finished 9-2-1 overall and third in the SEC with a No. 6 national ranking to boot. The team was undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the nation when it met No. 4 Auburn in week eight, but fell to the Tigers 28-21. The next week, Florida met Georgia, also ranked No. 4 and lost that game, too 10-9. The No. 11 Gators went on to win the Gator Bowl over No. 10 Iowa 14-6. During his three seasons with the Gators, Shanahan coached several NFL draft picks, including future NFL head coach Mike Mularkey.

NFL Coaching Career

Denver Broncos

After nearly ten years in the college ranks, Shanahan entered into the NFL with the Denver Broncos. He accepted the position of wide receivers coach in 1984. Behind head coach Dan Reeves, the Broncos went 13-3 and claimed the AFC West Division title. A loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round of the playoffs ended Denver’s season. In 1985, Shanahan added the titles of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach to his name. Behind an improving offense, the Broncos achieved an 11-5 record. Despite this, the team missed the playoffs.

The 1986 season brought with it one of the greatest AFC Championship games in the history of the NFL. What is now known simply as ‘The Drive,’ John Elway led his team 98 yards in five minutes and two seconds against the Cleveland Browns to tie the game with just thirty seven seconds left in the game. Denver won the game 23-20 in overtime. The Broncos went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Giants 39-20.

In 1987, Denver returned to the Super Bowl after defeating the Browns in the AFC Championship for the second straight season, but again lost the sport’s biggest game 42-10 to the Washington Redskins.

Los Angeles Raiders

The next season, Shanahan became the head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders, a division foe of the Broncos. He took over the reins of a team that had gone 5-10 in 1987. The team improved to finish 7-9 and a third place finish in the AFC West. He coached the first four games of the 1989 season, but was fired after a 1-3 start.

Shanahan’s time in Los Angeles was extremely tumultuous as he was not popular with players and owner Al Davis and Shanahan possessed two very different leadership styles.

Return to Denver

Shanahan returned to Denver the following season, 1990, as quarterbacks coach. However, Shanahan only stayed in Denver two seasons. After a poor 1990 season, the team won the AFC West and make the AFC championship game, where they lost to the Buffalo Bills. After the season, Shanahan accepted the offensive coordinator position with the San Francisco 49ers.

San Francisco 49ers

Shanahan’s three seasons as the 49ers offensive coordinator were very successful. During this stretch of time, the 49ers went 37-11, with one Super Bowl victory (1994) and two more appearances in the NFC championship game. Quarterback Steve Young won both of his League MVP awards with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. In addition to Young’s awards, wide receiver Jerry Rice won Offensive Player of the Year in 1993. After three seasons, Shanahan returned to Denver for his third stint with the team; this time as head coach.

Head Coach of Denver

In his first season as head coach, the team went 8-8. Behind an emerging young running back in Terrell Davis, the team improved to finish the next season 13-3, but lost in the first round of the playoffs 30-27 to the Jaguars.

Led by one of the strongest offenses and defenses in the league, the Broncos won the next two Super Bowls. In 1998, Davis rushed for 2,008 yards, becoming the 4th running back to surpass 2,000 yards. With the strong season, Davis won the NFL MVP award.

Denver finished 6-10 in 1999, but made the playoffs in 2000 when it lost in the wild car round 21-3 to the Baltimore Ravens. The next time Shanahan and the Broncos made the playoffs was 2003 when it again lost in the wild card round 41-10 to the Indianapolis Colts. The Broncos lost to the Colts in the same round the following season 49-24.

Eventual Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Broncos in the AFC Championship game 34-17. This is when things got rocky for Shanahan in Denver. The Broncos missed the playoffs each of the next three seasons, causing Shanahan to be fired at the end of the season.

Washington Redskins

After sitting out one season, Shanahan came back with the Washington Redskins as the team’s head coach and vice president of football operations. Shanahan finished his first two season with a disappointing 11-21 record, but a seven-game win streak won the Redskins the NFC East division title, the team’s first since 1999.


Year Position Record Playoff record
2013 Head Coach 3-13-0 0-0
2012 Head Coach 10-6-0 0-1
2011 Head Coach 5-11-0 0-0
2010 Head Coach 6-10-0 0-0
2008 Head Coach 8-8-0 0-0
2007 Head Coach 7-9-0 0-0
2006 Head Coach 9-7-0 0-0
2005 Head Coach 13-3-0 1-1
2004 Head Coach 10-6-0 0-1
2003 Head Coach 10-6-0 0-1
2002 Head Coach 9-7-0 0-0
2001 Head Coach 8-8-0 0-0
2000 Head Coach 11-5-0 0-1
1999 Head Coach 6-10-0 0-0
1998 Head Coach 14-2-0 3-0
1997 Head Coach 12-4-0 4-0
1996 Head Coach 13-3-0 0-1
1995 Head Coach 8-8-0 0-0
1994 Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach 13-3-0 3-0
1993 Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach 10-6-0 1-1
1992 Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach 14-2-0 1-1
1991 Offensive Coordinator 12-4-0 1-1
1990 Quarterbacks Coach 5-11-0 0-0
1989 Head Coach 8-8-0 0-0
1988 Head Coach 7-9-0 0-0
1987 Offensive Coordinator 10-4-1 2-1
1986 Offensive Coordinator 11-5-0 2-1
1985 Offensive Coordinator 11-5-0 0-0
1984 Wide Receivers Coach 13-3-0 0-1

Coach history guide

Seasons with a championship win Seasons with a conference championship

Fun Facts

  • Mike Shanahan played quarterback at East Illinois. During practice, he got hit so hard that it ruptrued a kidney. It stopped his heart for 30 seconds and a priest performed his Last Rites.
  • Mike Shanahan , during his first year of working with the Broncos (and QB John Elway) criticized Elway for his conditioning. To counter that, Shanahan became Elway's lifting and running partner prior to the 1984 season.