Chuck Noll - 1977

From the November 13th Pro! magazine for the Steelers' game against the Browns:

Chuck Noll 1977 media guide photoAlthough the Steelers did not win the NFL Championship in 1976, Chuck Noll's reputation as a great coach was enhanced. There are many who felt he performed his best coaching job since coming to Pittsburgh in 1969.

He rallied his team from a near-disastrous 1-4 start to within one game of its third straight Super Bowl appearance. The manner in which he brought his team back was a classic example of his quiet leadership ability and another good reason why he is rated at the top of the coaching profession.

Even though the ultimate was not achieved as it was in the previous two seasons, it was another in an impressive string of Noll accomplishments. It was the fifth straight season the Steelers made the playoffs and the fifth year in a row they won ten or more games. It was the fourth time in this period they had advanced to the AFC championship game.

Their 8-3 record under Noll gives him the best postseason marks of any active coach in the NFL.

The Football News recognized his efforts in 1976 by naming him the AFC Coach of the Year. He was similarly honored by UPI in 1972, the first winning year the Steelers registered in nine seasons.

When Chuck took the Steeler coaching job in 1969, the team had just four winning seasons in the previous nineteen and only eight in its first 36 years of existence. It was obviously a team that needed a lot of help as well as leadership at the field level.

Now in his ninth season, he will be shooting for his sixth straight winning year. At 45 years of age, he and John Madden of Oakland have been with their respective teams longer than any other head coaches in the AFC, and only Dallas' Tom Landry and Minnesota's Bud Grant outrank them in continuous service in the NFL.

From the beginning Noll had one goal in mind for the Steelers. That was the NFL championship. As a result, the Steeler renaissance started slowly as he was unwilling to compromise on his main objective. The first year the team was 1-13. Seasons of 5-9 and 6-8 followed. His patience and foresight paid off in 1972 when the Steelers shocked the pro football world with a 11-3 regular season record and their first playoff berth ever.

Two years later in 1974 they won their first of two straight NFL tries by defeating Minnesota, 16-6, in Super Bowl IX. The following year they beat Dallas, 21-17, in Super Bowl X to become the third team to win two Super Bowl titles.

The Steelers are a team built by Noll and the team's personnel department. Relying almost exclusively on the draft and an uncanny ability to discover young talent, he made the Pittsburgh drafts among the best in the NFL as he wisely capitalized on the team's high drafting position in the early years.

Every one of the 22 starters on the 1977 team began his pro career with Pittsburgh as a draft choice or a free agent. From the time Noll chose Joe Greene, his first official act as the Steeler coach, the organization has been close to perfection in its draft selections.

To this nucleus of talent, Noll has added his own facility for organization and a desire to teach. In addition to his overall responsibility for the entire team, his areas of greatest direct involvement are with the quarterbacks and the special teams.

The teaching aspect of coaching is the one he enjoys the most and this probably accounts for more of his success than any other single factor. He derives as much satisfaction out of the daily coaching routine as he does the success it brings. It is this characteristic that replenishes his interest and drive each year as the cycle is repeated.

Chuck has surrounded himself with a talented staff and has the wisdom to provide his assistants with the responsibility and freedom to derive a maximum contribution from their respective abilities and strengths.

These ingredients combined with Noll's low-key way of doing things have resulted in a remarkable success story. He has established a delicate balance which enables him to have an excellent rapport with the players. His preference for remaining in the background, anonymously, has been a major factor in this relationship and has aided many of his athletes in acquiring the stature and recognition they deserve.


September 19th Steelers 27
San Francisco 0
September 25th Steelers 7
Oakland 16
October 2nd Steelers 28
Cleveland 14
October 9th Steelers 10
Houston 27
October 17th Steelers 20
Cincinnati 14
October 23rd Steelers 27
Houston 10
October 30th Steelers 21
Baltimore 31
November 6th Steelers 7
Denver 21
November 13th Steelers 35
Cleveland 31
November 20th Steelers 28
Dallas 13
November 27th Steelers 23
New York Jets 20
December 4th Steelers 30
Seattle 20
December 10th Steelers 10
Cincinnati 17
December 18th Steelers 10
San Diego 9
December 24th Steelers 21
Denver 34

Chuck Noll's eighth draft:

  1.    Robin Cole (LB), New Mexico
  2     Sidney Thornton (RB), Northwestern Louisiana
  3.    Tom Beasley (DT), Virginia Tech (choice from New York Jets)
  3b.  Jim Smith (WR), Michigan
  4.    Ted Petersen (C), Eastern Illinois (choice from Green Bay).
  4b.  Laverne Smith (RB), Kansas (choice from Chicago)
  4c.  Dan Audick (G), Hawaii
  5.    Cliff Stoudt (QB), Youngstown State (choice from Kansas City)
  5b.  Steve Courson (G), South Carolina (choice from Detroit)
  5c.  Dennis Winston (LB), Arkansas
  6.    Paul Harris (LB), Alabama
  7.    Randy Frisch (DT), Missouri
  8.    Phil August (WR), Miami (Florida)
  9.    Roosevelt Kelly (TE), Eastern Kentucky
10.    Alvin Cowans (DB), Florida (choice from Buffalo)
10b. Dave LaCrosse (LB), Wake Forest.
11.   Lou West (DB), Cincinnati
12.   Jimmy Stephens (TE), Florida

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