Most Hated Coaches by Their Own Fans
When things aren't going well for a particular sports team, there really aren't a lot of quick fixes. Ownership isn't going to change. General manager isn't a position that can realistically be shuffled every few years. And overhauling player personnel is a slow process.
Which is why coaches always seem to find themselves the target of fan ire and are usually the first to go. A coach is one of the most visible—and disposable—faces of a given franchise. Upper management is rarely hesitant to throw a coach to the wolves if it buys them some time with fans in addressing bigger issues.
This is a process which repeats itself year after year. And it only serves to reinforce the fan perception that a simple coaching change will cure what has chronically ailed them. Of course, that's almost never the case.
Not that it matters. Here are 15 coaches that are so hated by fans that they've already lost their jobs or are in serious jeopardy of doing so within the year.
With perhaps one of the most rabid, loyal (and long-suffering) fanbases in the NHL—if not across pro sports—any coach hired by the Maple Leafs is walking into a veritable lion's den.
Despite leading the team into the playoffs after a nine-year drought, many already skeptical Maple Leaf fans have lost patience after the Game 7 stunner against the Bruins, when the team blew a three-goal lead during the final 11 minutes of regulation.
Carlyle was hired by the Maple Leafs in 2012, shortly after getting the boot from the Ducks—who hired another oft-maligned coach, Bruce Budreau. So, while there is plenty of blame to spread around, Carlyle isn't really the type to ingratiate himself to fans in the face of disappointment.
It's not as if the NFL is lacking when it comes to powerful examples of how fragile success and/or popularity can be for players and coaches. However, the parallel nose-dives of the Steelers performance on the field and fan perception of head coach Mike Tomlin are quite epic.
Despite winning a Super Bowl, appearing in another, and making the playoffs in four out of the six years he's been coach, Tomlin is facing the prospect of unleashing the fury of the notoriously fickle and brash Steelers Nation.
And it's not without some justification—from questionable decisions in key moments and numerous draft whiffs, to the Todd Haley-Bruce Arians debacle, Tomlin hasn't given his supporters much to hang their hat on recently.
In the offseason, John Tortorella was hired as the coach of the Canucks, who are hoping his trademark passion (or boiling rage) can light a fire under the collective seat of a team that routinely flames out in the playoffs. You know who won't miss his fire? Rangers fans.
Torts was the coach of the Rangers from early 2009 until May 2013, four days after New York was nearly swept out of playoffs by the Bruins in five games. Despite having success early, Tortorella's excessively combative way with...well, pretty much everyone...was an act that had worn thin with the fans and media alike.
Not to mention his own players. Torts was definitely on thin ice after the early ouster, but it was his tenuous relationship with Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist that likely sealed his fate. Lundqvist will become a free agent in 2014 and was very non-committal about his future with the team last spring.
The season hasn't even started yet, but Tortorella better hope he has better luck motivating in Vancouver—he's already up to his old tricks and doesn't seem to be making any friends out West.
With the Chiefs now 2-0, having already matched their win total from last season, coach Andy Reid must be feeling pretty good about his new home in the Midwest. Especially after spending the last two seasons running from torches and pitchforks in Philadelphia after going 8-8 in 2011 and 4-12 in 2012.
Although Reid was the winningest coach in Eagles history by far, his penchant for coming up short in the playoffs had been wearing on fans for years. If he hadn't been let go last season, widespread riots were not out of the question.
Florida is one of two states universally regarded as a treasure trove for college football talent—allowing perennial powers Florida, Florida State and Miami to consistently re-stock despite losing stars in the NFL Draft year after year. The other? Texas.
Until recently, head coach Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns had a veritable stranglehold on many of the state's top prospects, but despite hauling in a highly-ranked recruiting class each spring, Brown's teams have largely failed to live up to expectations. Over nearly 15 years, he's won one BCS Championship, appeared in another and has been owned by Oklahoma in the Big 12.
Now, Brown is almost certainly on his way out after two consecutive bad losses to start the season. The fans have an obvious scapegoat in Brown, and in typical passionate, Texas fashion...they want him to know it.
Jets coach Rex Ryan's shtick played well with most fans when the team was winning. He was aggressive, outspoken, and not afraid to take some shots at the division rival Patriots. A personality not too hard for your average Jet fan to relate to.
But with his fortune forever tied to the performance of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who Ryan drafted in the first round months after being hired, Ryan's stock has been in a free fall the last two years. After leading the team to the AFC Championship in his first two seasons, the Jets have finished 8-8 and 6-10 the last two.
Drafting Geno Smith in the offseason certainly hasn't done much to quite the chorus of Ryan's doubters. Some bad decision making in the preseason came under intense scrutiny by the media, and Ryan's response was equal parts combative and confusing.
Unless this Jets team surprises in a huge way this season, Ryan's critics are going to get louder and meaner with each passing game. It's hard to imagine he'll keep his job if he misses the playoffs for a third consecutive year.
After leading Connecticut from Independent obscurity to a BCS bowl in just over a decade, Randy Esdall flew straight to Maryland within hours of the Huskies loss to Oklahoma in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Not long after, his players learned of his decision via the internet.
Needless to say, Edsall is not well liked in Connecticut. Unfortunately for him, he's not well liked in Maryland either. Having gone 2-10 and 4-8 in his first two season, while raking in a bloated $2 million salary, Terp fans are wishing he would desert them.
This season they've started 3-0, feasting on the usual slate of weaklings that always pack their early schedule. All fans can hope is that Edsall can build some momentum, because with all the money left on his contract, this guy isn't going anywhere for awhile—he's locked in for six years.
If there are any fans that are all too familiar with the phrase, "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it," it's Chargers fans. After going 14-2 in the 2006 regular season and losing to the Patriots in the playoffs, coach Marty Schottenheimer was kicked to the curb after a relatively successful tenure in San Diego.
Enter Norv Turner. He enjoyed some early success with the Chargers team that Schottenheimer had built, but after three consecutive years of making the playoffs, Turner's maddeningly inconsistent teams failed to reach the postseason in the next three.
The Chargers seemed to start every season under Turner as one of the AFC's Super Bowl favorites and end every season as one of the league's biggest disappointments. Fans who were stunned by the decision to keep Turner around in 2012 celebrated the decision to clean house a year later.
FireNorv.net 1, Norv Turner 0
It's really surprising Sharks coach Todd McLellan still has a job. The only thing worse than failing to make something out of nothing is failing to make something out of something, which is exactly what he's done in San Jose.
McLellan has been with the team since the 2008-09 season and has made the playoffs for five straight years. The Sharks finished first in their division the first three seasons, second in 2011-12 and third last year. Yet they were unceremoniously swept (or nearly swept) out of the postseason each time.
Although they did put up a fight against the Kings last season, losing 4-3, the overall exit came earlier, after struggling to even make the playoffs. The Sharks have been early favorites to make a run at the Stanley Cup for years, but it looks like their window might actually be closing.
It took eight weeks for GM Doug Wilson to publicly discuss McLellan's status after their most recent elimination, which doesn't bode well for his future. If this Sharks team struggles early, the "Fire Todd McLellan" movement is really gonna heat up.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini seems to think he's built up enough good will as coach to withstand the fallout after his hostile tirade against the team's fans recently went public.
But considering his Cornhuskers have been blown out by an SEC team in the Capital One Bowl the last two seasons and lost to Washington in the Holiday Bowl the year before, he might want to consider polishing up the old resume—just in case.
The recording was leaked after a particularly brutal home loss against UCLA in Week 2. According to the source, it was made in October 2011 and stars an irate Pelini dropping f-bombs on pretty much everyone in Nebraska, including the fans.
Said Pelini, "Our crowd. What a bunch of f-ing fair-weather f-ing—they can all kiss my a** out the f-ing door. Cause the day is f-ing coming now. We'll see what they can do when I'm f-ing gone. I'm so f-ing pissed off."
Ha-ha! Alrighty then.
As architect of the tenacious, fundamentally sound Bears defense under then-head coach Tim Lewis from '04-06, defensive coordinator Ron Rivera's unit overcame the supreme ineptitude of the Rex Grossman-led offense, leading the Bears to the playoffs twice, including a Super Bowl appearance.
Rivera's name was consistently on the short-list of hot head coach candidates, but he would have to wait another five years before he finally got the opportunity—when he was hired by the Panthers in '11.
So far, Rivera's Panthers have underwhelmed despite featuring one the NFL's most exciting and dynamic quarterbacks in Cam Newton, starting the '13 season 0-2 following two sub-par years. Panthers fans are fed up and ready for a change—with 83 percent indicating he should be fired in a recent online poll.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is a lightning rod who always seems to find himself embroiled in conflict with players, coaches and/or management, no matter where he works. When he was brought in by the team to replace retired/fired offensive coordinator Bruce Arians before the '12-13 season, the move happened under—of course—controversial circumstances.
Regardless of the extent to which Haley is responsible, the Steelers offense has stumbled and fumbled itself into a shadow of its former self—as the team failed to the playoffs last year and look even worse this season en route to an 0-2 start.
Steelers fans have focused most of their unbridled rage and disgust at Haley (they also were quick to turn on Arians)—and he's made it an easy decision. Beyond miscues and failures on the field that seem to be drawn from the darkest corners of the most masochist Steelers fan's mind, he's been unable to escape their wrath off it; reportedly getting in a verbal scrum with the natives at a local bar.
So that Bobby Valentine thing in Boston ended up being as bad as, if not worse than, everyone expected. The Red Sox decided to bring in an old school authoritarian type after the team disintegrated in historic fashion down the stretch in 2011.
Someone in charge was under the misapprehension that the unruly mess created by former manager Terry Francona's hands-off style of managing could be easily remedied by bringing in his polar opposite. Really—how often is life that simple?
Most in the media predicted a disaster, and when the team failed to break .500 until after Memorial Day, already skeptical fans were quick to denounce Bobby V. Perhaps he would've been given at least one more season if all the players didn't hate his guts, which, according to Curt Schilling, they did.
It's funny how fast the tide can change in Boston. In August 2011, they were playoff-bound before a historic collapse changed everything. In August 2012, the consensus seemed to be that "Bobby Valentine [had] ruined the Red Sox." And 13 months later, they have a 10-game lead in their division.
So...Jason Garrett is still around in Dallas—much to the dismay of whoever owns and operates the website FireJasonGarrett.com. Not to mention every other Cowboys fan on the planet, because their default setting is to hate the head coach because they can't fire Jerry Jones as GM.
Since taking the reigns midway through the 2010 season, Garrett has been the very definition of mediocre. His 5-3 finish that year wasn't nearly enough to overcome their 1-7 start. He has gone 8-8 the last two seasons, failing to make the playoffs in each.
In January 2013, Jones announced offensive play calling duties would be handled by Bill Callahan this season, and six months later Garrett finally acknowledged the decision publicly. Maybe if he had gotten on board earlier he would have received an offseason extension.
As of now, the Cowboys are 1-1, which is right on par for Garrett. If this team is .500 or under by the time their bye week rolls around in Week 11, fans in Dallas just might get their wish. So someone should probably buy the FireBillCallahan.com domain immediately.
Lane Kiffin escaped his disastrous 1.4 season tenure with the Raiders in 2008 relatively unscathed, despite having gone 5-15 in Oakland. The erratic behavior of late owner Al Davis was bordering on unhinged at the time, making it impossible to distinguish fact from fiction.
Kiffin was quickly scooped up by Tennessee for the 2009 season, but when the news broke that he had accepted the coaching position at USC just 14 months later, Davis' version of events suddenly seemed more believable. Sure, everyone in the world hated him after that, but at least he had Trojans fans.
Now he doesn't even have them. In July, Sports Illustrated named Kiffin one of its five worst coaches in college football, adding, "Any confidence inspired by a breakthrough 10-2 campaign in 2011 was shattered by last year's 7-6 implosion, when Kiffin's USC squad—without question—finished as the biggest underachiever in the country."
Fans have absolutely turned on him: FireLaneKiffin.com, Facebook.com/FireLaneKiffin and @FIRELaneKiffin are just a few of the outlets for his full-time haters. Recently, fire lanes in Los Angeles have become another outlet—with vandals cleverly adding in "Kiffin" to areas designated "Fire Lane."
They've also taken to venting their frustrations via hilariously mean-spirited letters to the editor in the Los Angeles Times. It won't be long before the team makes him detour to each home game through the "Hey Kiffin, YOU'RE FIRED!" tent outside the Coliseum.