When the USA Today voters unanimously selected Bill Belichick as their coach of the decade, they probably were hoping for a flashier ending than the one offered by the coach and the Patriots. However, Sunday's first-round playoff exit didn't change what Belichick accomplished over the last 10 seasons, earning him the newspaper's honor.
Belichick was chosen, the story says, for winning 112 wins this decade — a feat that no other coach in NFL history has ever accomplished. Tom Landry won 105 in the '70s, while Don Shula won 104 in that same decade. All three men spent the entirety of a decade as head coach.
Of course, the three Super Bowl titles probably played a more significant role in the decision, with Belichick becoming the first coach to win three in four years.
Urban Meyer, who recently stepped aside as head coach of the two-time national champion Florida Gators, shared with the newspaper what he saw when visiting the Patriots' offseason practice last April.
"I saw the way, in my mind, the best coach in professional sports — not basketball, not football, not baseball … in all sports — handled his team," Meyer said. "We're talking about arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time."
Belichick will forever be linked with the infamous Spygate incident in 2007, but it's an issue which many former NFL head coaches have downplayed.
"If you're naïve enough to believe that helped him win a Super Bowl, you're kidding yourself. I don't believe that," former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards told the newspaper.
Some of the other reasons given for the honor included winning the AFC East seven out of 10 years; his 14-4 record in the playoffs; his extensive coaching tree that includes Charlie Weis, Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Nick Saban; and his leadership in 2008, when the Patriots went 11-5 without Tom Brady.