Bill Cowher

Coaching Record

Years Coached Record Win % Playoff record Playoff win %
22 218-131-2 62.39% 15-15 50.00%

Coaching Tree

Parents:

Marty Schottenheimer

Children:

Dom Capers, Chan Gailey, Jim Haslett, Dick LeBeau, Marvin Lewis, Mike Mularkey, Ken Whisenhunt, Bruce Arians, David Culley


Biography

Table of Contents

Career Summary

Bill Cowher was a football coach in the National Football League (NFL) from 1985 to 2006, finishing his career as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Over his twenty-two years of coaching his teams compiled a cumulative win/loss record of 218-131-2. He was the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992 until the 2006 season, during which time the Steelers went 149-90-1. During his career he was a head coach for fifteen seasons. In 2005, the Steelers won the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks 21-10. He retired from the Steelers on Friday, January 5, 2007. While Cowher was frequently named as a possible coaching candidate for many years after his retirement, he instead has remained as an analyst for CBS Sports.

Cowher was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020 after his coaching career.

Career Awards

Cowher won the NFL's Coach of the Year award in 1992 after guiding the Steelers to a 11-5-0 record and a a berth in the playoffs. During his time as defensive coordinator and head coach he coached six players to award-winning seasons. As the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs Derrick Thomas won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. As the head coach for the Steelers Rod Woodson won AP Defensive Player of the Year, Tommy Maddox won Comeback Player of the Year, Jerome Bettis won Comeback Player of the Year, Kendrell Bell won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Ben Roethlisberger won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Bill Cowher Coaching Tree

Before he was a head coach, Cowher served as an assistant coach for Marty Schottenheimer. He spent seven years as an assistant coach to Marty Schottenheimer, finishing as the defensive coordinator in 1991. During his time as head coach, nine assistant coaches, (Dom Capers, Dick LeBeau, Marvin Lewis, Chan Gailey, David Culley, Mike Mularkey, Jim Haslett, Ken Whisenhunt, and Bruce Arians) on his coaching staff were hired as head coaches across the league. His coaching tree has combined for a record of 432-501-4 in the regular season and 13-17 in the playoffs during their fifty-nine seasons as head coach after serving on his coaching staffs. The coaching tree has won a single championship, in 2020 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by Bruce Arians.

Playing Career

Cowher played linebacker while at college.

Personal Information

Cowher was born on Wednesday, May 8, 1957 in Crafton, Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

Playing Career

College Career: North Carolina State Wolfpack

Bill Cowher played college football at North Carolina State university as a linebacker. Cowher started for the Wolfpack in 1977 and 1978. In 1978, the team finished ranked #18 after a victory in the Tangerine Bowl to finish out Cowher’s college career.

Professional Career

Philadelphia Eagles

After his college career ended, Cowher entered the 1979 NFL draft. However, he was not selected in the draft, but signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent. However, he was the last linebacker to be cut in training camp and did not see the field for the Eagles.

Cleveland Browns

Cowher signed with the Cleveland Browns for the 1980 season for his rookie year in the NFL. He played in all sixteen games for the AFC Central champions, contributing mostly on special teams. However, an injury wiped out the entire 1981 season for Cowher. He returned for the strike-shortened season in 1982 where the Browns made the playoffs again.

Return to Philadelphia

After the 1982 season, the Eagles traded a 9th round pick to the Browns for Cowher. Cowher again would play in all sixteen games, but the Eagles failed to make the playoffs, only winning five games all season.

In 1983, Cowher played in the first four games of the season before another knee injury ended his playing career.

Coaching Career

Cleveland Browns

After sitting out of football for the 1984 season, Cowher was recruited by his former coach, Marty Schottenheimer, to join his coaching staff in Cleveland. Beginning his coaching career as the Browns special teams coach, he served in this role for the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

For the 1987 season, Cowher was promoted to the team’s secondary coach. During his two seasons as the team’s secondary coach, both cornerbacks made the Pro Bowl each season, with one named to the all-pro team in each season.

During Cowher’s four seasons with Cleveland, the team made the playoffs each season, winning the AFC Central from 1985 through 1987, and winning the wildcard in the 1988 season.

Kansas City Chiefs

In 1989, Cowher followed Schottenheimer to the Kansas City Chiefs when Schottenheimer was named as the Chiefs’ new head coach. In addition to the new team, Cowher was promoted to defensive coordinator for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs failed to make the playoffs in Cowher’s first season running a defense. The defense still performed strongly under Cowher’s leadership, finishing the season ranked second in total yards allowed. The following season, the Chiefs’ made the playoffs for only the second time since 1971 with Cowher’s defense again at the top of the league. The team followed up their wildcard season with another wildcard berth in 1991.

Pittsburgh Steelers

After three seasons with the Chiefs, the Pittsburgh Steelers hired Cowher to replace hall of fame coach Chuck Noll as their head coach. Despite Noll’s legendary status, the last seven years of his career, the team only had more than eight wins once. Cowher’s impact was instantly felt. In 1992, Cowher was named coach of the year and the Steelers won the division with eleven wins, the Steelers most since their final Super Bowl victory in 1979.

The Steelers continued the string of successful seasons, and Cowher became only the second coach ever to start his career with six straight playoff appearances (1992-1997). During this run, the Steelers went to the Super Bowl in 1995, losing to the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, Cowher at the time was the youngest head coach to make the Super Bowl (38 years old).

After his initial success, the Steelers had several down seasons, prompting some concern for Cowher’s job. Between 1998 and 2000, the Steelers stumbled, never finishing higher than third in the division. However, the Steelers were able to rebound in the 2001 season with a 13-3 record, their best regular season record since 1978.

The 2004 Steelers were able to top that mark. The team’s starting quarterback, Tommy Maddox, went down injured in the second game. Behind rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the team won 15 games, best in franchise history. The team fell short of another Super Bowl appearance, losing in the AFC Championship game the eventual Super Bowl winning New England Patriots.

After a prior failed trip to the Super Bowl, and burning out in the AFC Championship game four other times, Cowher’s career hit it’s pinnacle in 2005 when the Steelers finally won the Super Bowl under his leadership. After one more season as a head coach in 2006, Cowher retired from coaching with eight division titles, two conference championships, and one Super Bowl victory.

Post-Coaching Career

Media Work

After his retirement, Cowher signed with CBS to work as a studio analyst for various NFL programs. Despite his stated intention that he had retired, he frequently would be linked with coaching vacancies for the next several years.

In 2020, Cowher was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.


History

Year Position Record Playoff record
2020 CBS TV Analyst 9-4-0
2019 CBS TV Analyst
2018 CBS TV Analyst
2017 CBS TV Analyst
2016 CBS TV Analyst
2015 CBS TV Analyst
2014 CBS TV Analyst
2013 CBS TV Analyst
2012 CBS TV Analyst
2011 CBS TV Analyst
2010 CBS TV Analyst
2009 CBS TV Analyst
2008 CBS TV Analyst
2007 CBS TV Analyst
2006 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 8-8-0 0-0
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 11-5-0 4-0
2004 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 15-1-0 1-1
2003 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 6-10-0 0-0
2002 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 10-5-1 1-1
2001 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 13-3-0 1-1
2000 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 9-7-0 0-0
1999 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 6-10-0 0-0
1998 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 7-9-0 0-0
1997 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 11-5-0 1-1
1996 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 10-6-0 1-1
1995 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 11-5-0 2-1
1994 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 12-4-0 1-1
1993 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 9-7-0 0-1
1992 Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach 11-5-0 0-1
1991 Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator 10-6-0 1-1
1990 Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers Coach 11-5-0 0-1
1989 Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers Coach 8-7-1 0-0
1988 Cleveland Browns Secondary Coach 10-6-0 0-1
1987 Cleveland Browns Secondary Coach 10-5-0 1-1
1986 Cleveland Browns Special Teams Coach 12-4-0 1-1
1985 Cleveland Browns Special Teams Coach 8-8-0 0-1

Coach history guide

Seasons with a championship win Seasons with a conference championship

Coach facts

  • Years as head coach: 15
  • Years as a coordinator: 3
  • Championships won: 2005
  • Conference Championships won: 1995 and 2005
  • Coach of the Year: 1992
  • Led the league in wins: 2004
  • Third in total wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Second in winning percentage for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Past teams coached for: Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns
  • College Attended: NC State Wolfpack
  • Positions Played: Linebacker
  • Date of Birth: Wednesday, May 8, 1957 (65 years old), Crafton, Pennsylvania
  • Bill Cowher ended Jeff Fisher's playing career on a punt return. Cowher broke Fisher's leg while covering a punt.