College and professional sports coaches don't subscribe to the notion of beginner's luck. But sometimes the stars do align, creating a rare opportunity for instant success.
For coaches, it isn't just managerial talent that enters the equation: You need the right players at the right time, and sure, a little luck doesn't hurt, either. A handful of rookie head coaches have even taken their teams all the way to a championship. But as you'll see, instant success doesn't necessarily make an all-time great.
Check out these 13 all-time great performances by a rookie head coach.
Tyronn Lue, 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers
After replacing David Blatt mid-season -- while the Cavs were still ranked first in the Eastern Conference -- Lue faced more pressure than he let on. He took over in commanding fashion, asserting himself as the leader, even when it came to LeBron James. That control proved critical to the Cavs, as Lue kept his composure even when the team went down 3-1 in the NBA Finals.
But thanks to all-time performances by LeBron James, and clutch contributions from Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the roster, Lue steered Cleveland to three straight victories and the city's first championship in 52 years.
Steve Kerr, 2014-15 Golden State Warriors
After nearly joining the New York Knicks, Kerr was hired by the Warriors to replace Mark Jackson. Despite no past experience even as an assistant, Kerr proved himself quickly. Stephen Curry turned out an MVP performance, Draymond Green evolved from a bench player into the team's emotional anchor, and the Warriors won 67 games in the regular season, tied for best all-time.
In the playoffs, Golden State looked unstoppable. They cruised through the Western Conference playoffs and beat a depleted Cleveland team -- coached by fellow rookie David Blatt -- in six games.
Dan Bylsma, 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins
Bylsma didn't even get the head coaching job until two-thirds of the way through the 2008-09 season, when Pittsburgh fired coach Michael Therrien. But Bylsma didn't disappoint: He led the team to an 18-3-4 finish, and the Penguins soared to the Stanley Cup championship.
Larry Coker, 2001 Miami Hurricanes
An assistant hired to replace his former boss, Larry Coker's first Miami team was as dominant as they come. The team went a perfect 12-0 in the regular season and crushed Nebraska in the Rose Bowl, 37-14. Coker's Hurricanes nearly scored back-to-back titles the following year, but lost in overtime to Ohio State.
From there, Coker's success at Miami began to lose steam. After a disappointing 7-6 campaign in 2006, compounded by some disciplinary problems with the football team, the school let him go. Still, he left Miami with an overall 60-15 record.
Bob Brenly, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks
Brenly replaced manager Buck Showalter after a disappointing 2000 season, and the Diamondbacks immediately realized the potential of its star-studded roster: After winning the division, the Diamondbacks advanced to the World Series against the New York Yankees. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the two teams engaged in one of the best World Series matchups in recent history. In the seventh game, D-Backs star Luis Gonzalez won the game with a bloop single that arced just over the glove of Derek Jeter, driving in the winning run.
Success was short-lived for Brenly, though. While the team won 98 games the next year, they were swept out of the 2002 playoffs and failed to reach the postseason the next two years. Brenly was fired three years after his World Series title.
Larry Bird, 1997-98 Indiana Pacers
Unlike many coaches on this list, Bird didn't inherit a star-studded roster. The former Celtics great joined a team that didn't even make the playoffs the season before. Instantly, Bird transformed the club. Led by Reggie Miller, the Pacers rose to the top of the league and pushed the Bulls to seven games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals.
Bird was named Coach of the Year that season. Two years later, he brought the Pacers to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bird only coached the team for three years before stepping aside to take on an executive role.
Paul Westphal, 1992-93 Phoenix Suns
Until last year, no NBA coach had ever won more games in his first year than Westphal did with Phoenix. The 62-win Suns were anchored by Charles Barkley in his MVP season, as well as Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle. Westphal took the Suns all the way to the NBA Finals, where they met the unstoppable forces of Michael Jordan's Bulls.
That series had plenty of great moments, including a triple-overtime battle that ranks as one of the best Finals games in history. But the Suns lost, and Westphal never got closer to a title.
Steve Fisher, 1989 Michigan Wolverines
Fisher was an assistant on a great Michigan team when the head coach, Bill Frieder, took a job with Arizona State before the Wolverines' postseason began. The school felt it had to move on from Frieder that point, and they tabbed Fisher to lead Michigan as a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Led by Glen Rice, Michigan upset a two-seed and a one-seed before facing Seton Hall in the championship game. A controversial foul call with three seconds left sent Michigan to the free-throw line, where it sealed an 80-79 victory.
George Seifert, 1989 San Francisco 49ers
Even a casual fan could see that Seifert stumbled into a perfect situation. Legendary 49ers head coach Bill Walsh retired after winning his third Super Bowl. In came Seifert, who had been his defensive coordinator. With Joe Montana still under center, the 49ers carried on just fine in Walsh's absence, going 14-2 and winning the Super Bowl by the widest margin in history -- 55-10 over the Denver Broncos. Seifert won one more championship with the 49ers, finishing out the dynasty that Walsh started.
Jean Perron, 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens
After the previous coach resigned due to the high pressure of the Canadiens job, Perron was promoted from assistant to head coach. The regular season in Perron's first year was underwhelming, as the team went just 40-33-7. In the playoffs, though, the chips fell perfectly for the Canadiens, and a rookie goaltender named Patrick Roy also got hot. Upsets in earlier rounds created a surprisingly easy path to the Stanley Cup Final: The heavily favored Edmonton Oilers, let by Wayne Gretzky, were ousted before the Canadiens faced them. Montreal won the Cup in five games against Calgary. Perron's entire body of work may not be that impressive, but a championship trumps all.
Don McCafferty, 1970 Baltimore Colts
McCafferty inherited a strong Colts team that still hadn't recovered from its loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III. Led by quarterback Johnny Unitas, and anchored by a strong defense, Baltimore went 11-2-1 in McCafferty's first season, and returned to the big stage for Super Bowl V. Despite losing Unitas during the game, the Colts harassed Dallas all game and secured McCafferty a 16-13 victory. Unfortunately, McCafferty's head coaching career was far too short: He coached three more seasons before collapsing and dying in his backyard at just 53 years old.
Ralph Houk, 1961 New York Yankees
Houk was part of four Yankees championships as a player in the 1940s and 1950s, and he kept that success rolling with his debut as manager in 1961. It was the same year Roger Maris set the then-single-season record with 61 home runs. The Yankees steamrolled the league en route to a World Series win. Even more impressive: Houk repeated the feat the very next year, going two-for-two in his first two seasons. The next year, the Yankees won the pennant before finally losing in the World Series.
Eddie Dyer, 1946 St. Louis Cardinals
Pictured here from his college playing days, Eddie Dyer had a long, success MLB playing career before taking a job as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. And he had a tough task in 1946: Men were returning home from the war, and Dyer had to integrate former veterans back into their MLB team rosters. He also had to withstand the loss of several key players who, amid the turmoil, were recruited to play in the Mexican League.
But Dyer didn't just keep the team afloat: He guided the team to an impressive second-half surge and a best-of-three sweep of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League pennant. Dyer's Cards then beat the Red Sox, led by Ted Williams, to win the first post-war World Series.