20 Coaches Who Were Huge Jerks
Coaches can be mentors. They can be an athlete’s best friend, biggest inspiration and closest confidant in life.
They’re the men and women who make players sweat, bleed and work every day in the name of becoming a better athlete—and if they’re really good, a better person.
The title of “coach” is a responsibility to lead by example as much as it is an opportunity to develop athletes, and not everyone can walk the thin line between those two distinctions perfectly.
Like players, some coaches take things too far in the name of winning, however. The following are coaches (past and present) who let the pressure of winning weigh far too heavily on them, and have done deeds that fall below the expectations of one in their position.
These jerks are not all created equal, but they’re all guilty of being royal jack-wagons at times.
20. Jim Boeheim
Slumping, slouching and seething—that’s how Jim Boeheim conducts his postgame press conferences.
Boeheim loves his players, but if anyone asks him a question he doesn’t want to hear, he takes it as a personal attack, as he did in a recent postgame presser when asked the simple question whether he would return to coaching the following year.
Boeheim might not be a certified jerk, but Lord is he a prickly, prickly pear.
19. Lane Kiffin
Lane giveth, and Lane taketh away.
Lets move past the fact that his name is “Lane” and talk about something even worse: the USC football coach’s decision to defer a high school recruit’s scholarship three days before he was supposed to begin spring classes at the university.
Also, don’t forget about Will Andrew, a walk-on linebacker at USC who was awarded a scholarship by Kiffin only to have it taken away when Andrew's predecessor, Simione Vehikite, was released from jail.
Bear in mind, this is the guy who in 2010 offered a 13-year-old a scholarship. So there’s that.
18. Nick Saban
“I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” Nick Saban told reporters, shortly before becoming the head coach of Alabama.
17. Bill Belichick
Hates interviews, loves cut-off hoodies.
Already a subject of ire for football fans outside of Foxboro, Mass., for his surliness and his team’s winning ways, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick only invited more detractors of his coaching style after his organization was caught taping their opponent’s signals.
Belichick’s people were found to have been recording the defensive signals of the New York Jets during the 2007 season-opener to the NFL season. Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were docked their 2008 first-round draft pick.
Naturally, the incident only added the list of reasons to not like dour figures, which already included refusing to do postgame interviews when the Patriots lose.
16. Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas’ career as an NBA coach like watching a man drive a Ferrari into a telephone pole while texting his mistress.
Thomas spent money on players like saving could be a health hazard as head coach of the New York Knicks, but his jerk-ish tendencies involved embroiling the franchise a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders filed a $10 million lawsuit against Thomas in 2007, claiming the coach referred to her as a “ho,” among other unsavory terms.
Another incident worthy of noting Thomas’ trip to the hospital for an overdose of sleeping pills, an event the former coach lied about and blamed on his daughter.
15. Sal Alosi
New York Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi cemented himself as one of the biggest jerks in professional sports for tripping a Miami Dolphins special teams player running down the sideline at a game in 2010.
Alosi initially claimed it was an accident, but eventually admitted to the tripping and was fired from the program.
14. Diego Maradona
After a distinguished career of being one of the cockiest and best soccer players all time, it would only make since for Diego Maradona to bring the same brash fire to the sideline as coach of the United Arab Emirates team.
Maradona’s poor record as coach of the Middle Eastern club also included a track record of kicking fans, chastising other coaches for celebrating goals and jumping into the stands to fight hecklers.
After failing to even win games in lower-tier teams, Maradona deferred responsibility for the team’s troubles and claimed he had done all he could with the talent he was given.
13. Ozzie Guillen
Ozzie Guillen is a big fan of the three C’s: Cursing, Coconut Water and Castro.
Throughout his controversial career in the big leagues, the former Major League manager laid down a bumpy track record of gaffes and breaches of etiquette: throwing homophobic slurs at reporters, turning down trips to the White House and professing his love for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to media members.
12. Bob Knight
Like an old rock band with long catalogue of classic hits, it’s difficult to choose any one of Bob Knight’s many jerk-ish indiscretions that stands head and shoulders above others.
The obvious jerk moves are his famous chair throw at a Indiana-Purdue game in 1985, and grabbing a player by the throat, a deeper cut from Knight’s discography of insensitivity would be his 1988 interview with NBC reporter Connie Chung.
Chung asked Knight how he handled stress, to which he replied “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”
Knight specified later that he meant that you should learn to accept things in life when they’re out of your control, but still, probably not the best way of phrasing the idea.
11. Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho is a nice enough guy, that is, before he stabs his fingernail into your eye socket.
“The Special One” is considered by some as one of the greatest soccer coaches to ever prowl the sideline, but most of Mourinho’s publicity seems to come from his unsporting and uber-competitive nature, which has led him to poking another coach in the eye and ripping a player’s shirt off in anger.
Mourinho’s constant accusations of rigged officiating have also led veteran referees to quitting their jobs.
10. Mike Rice
The latest and largest in abusive coaching scandals in the world of sports, former Rutgers coach Mike Rice was recently removed from his position as head coach of the university’s basketball team after a video surfaced showing him verbally and physically accosting players.
The video shows Rice slinging slurs and basketballs at players on his team during practice, as well as shoving them around the court.
As previously stated, Rice has since been fired from his position as coach, and now can be found coaching a 12-year-old girls basketball team.
9. Woody Hayes
The late Woody Hayes was a fierce competitor, but his temper often got in the way of his ability to stay on the field.
Hayes had multiple run-ins with reporters and players, most notable of which involved a throat-punch he threw at Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman during the 1978 Gator Bowl.
He also let a snapping turtle bite his junk, according to Urban Meyer. Sounds like raw deal for the turtle.
8. Billy Martin
The late Billy Martin was a hot head and an alcoholic.
The former New York Yankees manager was known around the league for drinking like a sailor on shore leave, forcing young pitchers to throw themselves into exhaustion and having physical confrontations with people on a regular basis.
Martin’s most well-known fight involved sucker-punching a marshmallow salesman. Seriously.
7. Bela Karolyi
American gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi used fear and intimidation to motivate the girls on his teams.
He has been accused of being physically and mentally abusive to the young girls under his charge, hectoring them into eating disorders and depression.
6. Martin Tremblay
Youth hockey coach Martin Tremblay supposedly claimed he slipped on the ice and didn’t mean to trip a 13-year-old player on the opposing team, but video evidence speaks another story.
One player suffered a broken wrist during the tripping, and the Vancouver man was arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for the incident.
5. David Frost
Junior hockey coach turned sports agent David Frost has done some things, allegedly.
Frost was arrested and accused of 12 counts of sexual exploitation in 2006, and charged with fraud in 2007 after using the credit card registered to former St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton.
Frost wasn’t found guilty in either of those cases, but did plead guilty to punching a 20-year-old player while coaching the Quinte Hawks, a Junior A club based in Ontario.
4. Marinko Lucic
The father of tennis phenom Mirjana Lucic, Marinko was part coach, part sadist when it came to pushing his daughter toward athletic success.
Mirjana has accused her father of physically abusing her and her mother throughout her childhood, claiming the beatings were the reason the two fled their native Croatia and came to the United States.
In addition to the abuse, Mirjana claims her father and his nephew have stolen prize money from her and her mother.
3. Dave Bliss
Unwinding the terrible ball of lies, murder and deceit that went on during Dave Bliss’ career as head coach of the Baylor basketball team is like undoing a Gordian knot—difficult and frustrating for everyone.
The simplified version of the scandal is that Bliss ran out of scholarships to give out and decide to pay the tuition costs for two of his recruits—a big no-no in the eyes of the NCAA.
Questions began to swirl about how the two non-scholarship athletes were paying for school, and one of the players murdered the other in a bizarre and troubling incident in a field near the Baylor campus.
Following the murder, Bliss was caught on tape trying to convince members of the basketball program to spread rumors tarnishing the deceased’s reputation as a drug dealer in order to cover up Bliss’ breach of NCAA rules.
Yes, besmirching the name of a youth murdered in cold blood in order to keep your own job is an acceptable tactic in some people’s minds.
2. Bob Farley and Shaun Farr
Little League coaches Bob Farley and Shaun Farr can technically call themselves winners, but only after an act so depraved one can barely conceive it.
Farley and Farr’s team, the Yankees, were playing in the final inning of a 10-and-under league championship game in 2006 when they were faced with a conundrum: pitch to their opponent’s strongest hitter and possibly lose the game, or walk the hot hitter and pitch to the team’s weakest batter for the win?
Obviously, Farley and Farr went for the weak hitter, a child named Romney Oaks, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of four. Oaks had only hit two hits in 12 prior games in the league.
1. Mark Downs Jr.
Despicable doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Youth baseball coach Mark Downs Jr. was sentenced a year in prison in 2006 after the coach offered money to one of his 8-year-old players to purposely injure one of his teammates before a game.
Downs Jr. asked one his youngsters to bean Harry Bowers—an autistic nine-year-old boy—offering up a $25 cash reward for services rendered.
The youth league coach supposedly apparently didn’t want to play the less athletic Bowers in the game, and the bribe coerced one of the players into hitting the nine-year-old in the head with a baseball.
Bowers was taken to the hospital and treated for a minor head wound, but has been afraid to try new activities since the incident, according to his mother.