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18 Terrible Coaching Hires

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2013

18 Terrible Coaching Hires

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    Although it takes really good players to win a title, as we've seen with the more consistently successful teams, it's a head coach and player relationship that maintains that championship level each year.

    So when we see the rotating door of head coaches continue to spin, we all wonder if the organization knows what the hell they're doing sometimes?

    Not every franchise can hire a Gregg Popovich or Bill Belichick, so here are some coaching decisions that didn't work out for anyone, setting a team back more than anything else.

Ron Zook, Florida (2002-2004)

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    While there's no denying that Ron Zook was one hell of a recruiter, he wasn't much of a head coach while in Gainesville—which is what he was unfortunately hired to do.

    Replacing the legendary Steve Spurrier—who won both a national title as head coach and a Heisman Trophy as a player in the '60s—Zook had high expectations to live up to.

    He fell flat on those, however, accumulating a pedestrian 23-14 in three seasons in "The Swamp" before getting the ax in 2004.

    His claim to fame to Florida fans is that Urban Meyer won a national title with many of the recruits Zook had brought in, so that's something to feel good about, I guess?

Eddie Stanky, Texas Rangers (1977)

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    Much like some of the other coaches you'll find on this list, former Rangers manager Eddie Stanky decided in less than 24 hours that sitting in a dugout and calling down to the bullpen wasn't for him.

    Resigning after just one game—a win by the way—Stanky tossed up his arms and said, "Screw this. I hate this job."

    We're hoping that Stanky's one-night stand at least included some breakfast in the morning and not just the walk of shame.

Wayne Gretzky, Phoenix Coyotes (2005-2009)

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    It's too bad that Wayne Gretzky couldn't bring the extraordinary play he had on the ice during his career and sprinkle some of it on his Phoenix Coyotes players.

    If he had that type of magic, "The Great One" may have succeeded as head coach.

    However, it didn't work out that way, as Gretzky compiled a record of 143-161-24 (.473 winning percentage) in his four seasons behind the pine, never having a team finish better than fourth in its division.

    Gretzky may have had the name, but he didn't have the coaching game to make it in Phoenix.

Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons (2007)

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    While the hiring of Bobby Petrino was a clear mistake after the former Falcons coach resigned after just 13 games with the team, it looks a hell of a lot worse now thanks to how his Arkansas career ended.

    A hot coaching name thanks to his 41-9 record during a four-year stint at Louisville, Petrino went 3-10 in his brief career in Atlanta, leaving a comedic letter voicing his resignation to his then-players to take the job with the Razorbacks.

    As one might expect, it didn't really go over too well with anyone on the Falcons roster.

Mike Dunlap, Bobcats (2012-13)

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    After many years as an assistant in both the college and pro ranks, Mike Dunlap finally got his chance to lead his own team when Michael Jordan and the Bobcats hired him for the 2012-13 season.

    Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last too long.

    Starting the season 7-8 after the first month—which was actually improvement of where the team stood last year—the young 'Cats went just 14-53 the rest of the way, which probably didn't sit too well with the ultra competitive Jordan.

    With just one season under his belt, a young roster and no support from the front office, dude was axed, making many to wonder why he was even hired in the first place?

Bill LaForge, Canucks (1984)

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    There are varying opinions as to who the worst NHL coach of all time is, but when having the discussion, former Canucks coach Bill LaForge's name comes up more often than not.

    Totaling 20 games on the Vancouver bench, the team went just 4-14-2 under his guidance.

    At just 33 years old when hired, LaForge was younger than some of the players he coached, making it difficult for him to take control.

    Making matters worse, he came from the junior-level ranks, meaning he had zero NHL experience, which was probably tough for players to swallow in terms of respecting him.

Mike Price, Alabama (2002-2003)

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    It's always a pretty bad choice when a guy never even coaches the team he was hired to, which was the case with Mike Price at Alabama.

    Hired after the 2002 season, Price enjoyed the night scene a bit too much, being caught at a strip joint while playing in a golf tournament in Florida.

    After several reports started circulating about what actually happened—some of which had a stripper admitting to going back to Price's hotel and having a threesome with another girl—Price was never able to Roll Tide, since he was too busy rolling up one's to toss on stage.

Mike Brown, Lakers (2011-2012)

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    After personally seeing the way Mike Brown coddled LeBron James in Cleveland, it was obvious that he was overmatched with the glitz and glam of the Lakers from the beginning.

    A successful head coach, Brown never connected with many of his players in L.A.—namely Kobe Bryant—and was fired after just 71 games, going 42-29 during a lockout-shortened season and five games into the 2012-13 season.

    His unemployment didn't last long though, as he was rehired by the Cavs this offseason, and promptly landed the No. 1 overall pick in next month's NBA draft.

Bobby Valentine, Red Sox (2012)

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    Was Bobby Valentine the worst hire in MLB history?

    Probably not.

    But given his past, the roster he was given and the always demanding Fenway faithful, was he one of the most disappointing?

    Absolutely.

    Lasting just one season, the Sox finished with a last-place, 69-93 record in 2012 with Valentine at the helm, trading away some of the biggest-named players on the team late last year to start the rebuilding process a bit.

    As an extra hit against Bobby V, the Red Sox are thriving this season, only making the decision to hire him look even worse.

George Allen, Los Angeles Rams (1978)

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    After coaching both the Rams and Redskins in the '70s, George Allen was regarded as one of the top-notch coaches of the decade, which earned him a place in the Hall of Fame.

    But there's one career move the since-passed coach probably would regret ever taking—his third time around with the Rams in 1978.

    Lasting just two preseason games, then Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom thought a change needed to be made in order to salvage the season, and relieved the legendary coach.

    The team did go 12-4, losing in the NFC title game to the Cowboys, so maybe it wasn't such a bad move after all?

Magic Johnson, Lakers (1993-1994)

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    Just as we saw with the previously mentioned Wayne Gretzky, just because Magic Johnson was one of the best players ever, doesn't mean his success translated to the sidelines, too.

    Hired towards the end of the 1993-94 season after saying he, "always had the desire (to coach) in the back of his mind," Johnson started 5-1 before ending his short coaching career with a 10-game losing streak to close the season, tallying a 5-11 mark overall.

    Johnson did coach five of his former teammates, making it difficult I'm sure, and resigned after the season with the quote, "It's never been my dream to coach," which seemed a bit contradictory to what he said when hired.

    Either way, Magic got ownership with the franchise, helping him build the empire he has these days.

Eric Mangini, Browns (2009-2011)

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    Several years ago, there was an article written suggesting that the Browns hiring of Eric Mangini was actually the worst ever.

    Whether true or not, one can't argue he had great success while in Cleveland.

    Lasting just two years in which he went 10-22—using a four-game win streak at the end of his first year to just save his job—Mangini was often disconnected from his players, with many of them bashing the way he coached them.

    He may have been coined as "ManGenius" after his time with the Jets, but he was anything but when he was with the Browns.

Paul Hackett, USC (1998-2000)

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    USC is a tremendous program, and it has proven to be one of the blue-blood football teams in the past 50 years, but when Paul Hackett was at the helm, it was one decision that really didn't work out so great.

    From 1998-2000, Hackett went just 19-18, going 0-1 in his lone bowl appearance as the Trojans coach before getting a pink slip to make way for Pete Carroll, who made the program what it still is today even after his departure back in 2009.

Billy Donovan, Magic (2007)

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    Billy Donovan was the hottest name in college basketball after guiding his Florida Gators to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, so it was only natural for an NBA team to try and nab him.

    That team was the Orlando Magic, who hired Billy D just a few weeks after his '07 title.

    Within a week of taking the Magic job, however, Donovan got cold feet, changing his mind and heading back to Gainesville, where he still remains today.

    At least the blunder led to Orlando hiring Stan Van Gundy, who took them to an NBA Finals after just two seasons, so at least all wasn't lost.

Steve Spurrier, Redskins (2002-2003)

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    After his fun-'n-gun offense proved so successful at Florida in the college game, Steve Spurrier was lured away to the Redskins in 2002 with a five-year, $25 million contract.

    Problem was, the NFL isn't college ball, so the gimmicks he used with the Gators didn't work so well with his Redskins teams.

    With a lost identity on offense thanks to him benching and often reinserting his starting quarterbacks, Spurrier's team's went 12-20 over his two seasons before the "Ol' Ball Coach" resigned.

    His tenure produced plenty of stories though, while also helping a growing reputation that college coaches couldn't adapt to the pro game.

Tim Floyd, Bulls (1998-2001)

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    I'm not saying that Tim Floyd had an easy task when he took the Bulls head coaching job in 1998—just months after Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson helped guide the team to its sixth title of the decade and second three-peat in eight years—but he didn't really do much to help change our opinion on him.

    With a 49-190 overall record with the club, Floyd's tenure in the Windy City was obviously piss-poor.

    After starting the 2001-'02 campaign at 4-21, Floyd finally resigned on Christmas Eve that year, putting a stamp of disapproval as to the organization ever hiring him in the first place.

Bill Belichick, Jets (1999)

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    Alas! Not every coaching decision Bill Belichick makes pays off in his favor.

    That was proven when the future Hall of Fame coach took over for the Jets following the resignation of his predecessor, Bill Parcells, in 1999.

    Not one to let his new surroundings sink in, Belichick resigned less than 24 hours later, using a napkin to famously write, "I resign as HC of the NYJ” for his resignation speech.

    Less than a month later, he accepted the Patriots job, where he's been paired up with Tom Brady and winning Super Bowls since.

Lane Kiffin, Raiders (2007-2008) and Tennessee (2008-2009)

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    It's not common for a guy to fail as a coach in two separate scenarios on two different levels, but for former Raiders and University of Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, he has the honor.

    Having a girlfriend who calls UT her alma mater, we know just how much Vols fans despise Kiffin, and will do anything possible to ridicule him.

    After all, the guy screwed over the program by leaving for Southern Cal just 14 months after taking over in Knoxville.

    But even before that, he had a rocky resume thanks to his handling of the Oakland Raiders position, often going toe-to-toe with former owner Al Davis.

    It's not as if he's been all that successful either.

    Record at Tennessee: 7-6 (one season)

    Record with the Raiders: 5-15 (less than two seasons)

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