The NFL Coaching Network: Analysis of the Social Network Among Professional Football Coaches

Andrew Fast, David Jensen

The interactions of professional football coaches and teams in the National Football League (NFL) form a complex social network. This network provides a great opportunity to analyze the influence that coaching mentors have on their proteges. In this paper, we use this social network to identify notable coaches and characterize championship coaches. We also utilize the coaching network to learn a model of which teams will make the playoffs in a given year. Developing comprehensive models of complex adaptive networks, such as the network of NFL coaches, poses a difficult challenge for researchers. From our analysis of the NFL, we identify three types of dependencies that any model of complex network data must be able to represent.

Subjects: 12. Machine Learning and Discovery

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