Fictional Football: The Top 5 TV/Film College Coaches of All-Time
TV and film always have a way of taking something as simple or even as complex as a college football coach and bringing that character to another level.
Relatively few shows and movies have delivered memorable college head coaches.
John Goodman's character, Coach Harris, was one of a typical butt-kicking, no-BS style coach. But that doesn't make the top five, with all due respect to the Revenge of the Nerds head ball coach.
Here are the arguably top five fictional college coaches in TV and film.
Dauber Dybinski from Coach (Bill Fagerbakke)
The sitcom Coach originally aired on ABC back in 1989, and was a lead-in to Monday Night Football with the belief that football fans would flock to their TVs earlier to catch yet another football-oriented show. It didn't do as good as, say, the Fresh Prince or Blossom at the time slot, but it did manage to net 200 episodes until its end in 1997.
One of the mainstays was assistant coach Dauber Dybinski, who fitted the stereotypical vision of a dumb jock. Ol' Daub was memorable for the way he talked, his clueless expressions, and the way fictional head coach Hayden Fox looked clueless after many things that Dauber said.
Perhaps the most memorable moment for Daub was during the series finale when the cast and crew thanked everyone for nine seasons. The epilogue included the fact that Dauber stayed with the fictional Orlando Breakers of the NFL, won back-to-back Super Bowls, retired and joined the Monday Night Football team.
Another Daub highlight may have been the Hardee's commercials. He and fellow assistant coach Luther Van Dam (Jerrry Van Dyke) had a series of spots for the restaurant, advertising their specials. If you remember, "Only on Tuesday," then there is no doubt you grew up in the Midwest, or have seen one of these spots.
Dauber Dybinski of Coach lands at No. 5.
Wally Riggs from Necessary Roughness (Robert Loggia)
"I don't wanna put any undue pressure on you guys, but Coach Gennero's last words were, win or I'll die."
That was one of many fine and funny quotes from the memorable assistant coach Wally Riggs in the 1991 film Necessary Roughness. Riggs was an assistant at fictional Texas State, whose team was based on the SMU squad that earned college football's death penalty back in the late 80s.
Robert Loggia was most memorable in this role with his banter of one-liners that included:
"Linemen, you gotta give Blake at least four-god-damn-seconds to throw the ball."
and of course,
"NOT A GOD DAMN THING'S been working for us. Like this goddamn suit doesn't work for me... and this stinking tie... and this goddamned shirt. IT DOESN'T WORK FOR ME. YOU KNOW HOW TO PLAY WINNING HARD-NOSED FOOTBALL? YOU PLAY FOOTBALL LIKE ED GENERRO PLAYED FOOTBALL. A guy who gave his life for this football team. He was a 140-pound halfback, and HE PLAYED LIKE A GODDAMN WILDMAN! NO! LIKE A GODDAMN RAMPAGING BEAST! And that's the way you got to do it! YOU GO OUT THERE! YOU TEAR THEIR F*^#% HEADS OFF, AND YOU SHIT DOWN THEIR NECKS! Let us pray. "
Assistant coach Wally Riggs earns our No. 4 spot on most memorable fictional college coaches.
Coach Klein from the Waterboy (Henry Winkler)
The 1998 comedy The Waterboy was yet another goofy Adam Sandler movie that left audiences gasping for air in laughter. One of the reasons was from the inept coaching ability of the Mud Dogs head coach, Mister Coach Klein.
Klein, played by the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler, had fallen on hard times ever since giving up his playbook to rival coach Red Beaulieu back in their days as grad assistants.
Coach Klein had many amazing quotes, but his character may be best remembered for the visions he had of rival Red Beaulieu during the Bourbon Bowl.
Later on in his career, Winkler would make a cameo in Sandler's Little Nicky where he was covered in Bees.
Henry Winkler as coach Klein earns the bronze as our No. 3 best fictional college coach.
Coach Sam Winters from the Program (James Caan)
Even in 1993, there was plenty of corruption in college football—The Program showed all that could be bad in college football.
James Caan played Coach Sam Winters, a coach looking to rebuild a winning tradition at ECU, with a cast of players that had their off-the-field issues. Note: this is not Ohio State currently.
Most of the more famous scenes from this less-than-stellar production are from the cast of characters who made up the players. Whether it was Alvin Mack's trash talk or Lattimer's 'roid rage, it seemed to have all the negatives of college football.
What makes the Winters part memorable is that he sort of knew about it and did little due to pressure by the boosters. Again, this is not Ohio State or Jim Tressel.
The following quote from the coach could probably sum up all of college sports nowadays,
Regent Chairman: "This is not a football vocational school. It's an institute for higher learning."
Coach Winters: "Yeah, but when was the last time 80,000 people showed up to watch a kid do a damn chemistry experiment? Why don't you stick the bow-tie up your ass?"
Coming up at the second spot is James Caan and his portrayal of ECU's Coach Sam Winters.
Hayden Fox from Coach (Craig T. Nelson)
If you didn't root for the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles to win the Pioneer Bowl back in the early 90s, then you weren't a fan of the show "Coach."
Coach was an ABC sitcom based on the then-fictional Minnesota State, after the University of Minnesota had backed out of being the namesake for the sitcom.
Hayden Fox was the ideal head college coach. He was over-worked, had his trouble in recruiting, and had to deal with AD's, presidents and everything in between.
Coach Fox eventually won a National Title and graduated to the NFL's Orlando Breakers until the show got cancelled in 1997.
Fox is simply the best fictional college coach because it was the closest representation to what the life of a college coach was like—with a little humor, of course.
Hayden Fox, you are a winner again—at least with me. But, as always, I encourage everyone else's thoughts on the subject.
Who is your No. 1? Do you agree with the top five? Who would you have added to this short list?