College Sports' 10 Worst Coaching Role Models

Matt King@TheRealMattKingFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 29:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals walks with his head down against the Michigan State Spartans during the fourth round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Slick Rick Pitino got caught with his hand in the nookie jar, but where does he stack up against the most scandalous skippers in men's college sports and the lessons they taught?

Being a college coach carries a lot of responsibility. When players choose your school, you basically become their father for the next four years (or less if you're Bob Huggins, but we'll get to that later). You are supposed to be their role model, their moral compass. You will help shape them into the men that they will grow to be.

Some coaches fall shorter than others in that respect. Here are the worst of the worst, the 10 worst coaching role models in college sports.

10. George O'Leary

O'Leary was hired to coach Notre Dame in 2001, only to be fired one week later when it was discovered that he had lied on his résumé about getting a master's degree and being a three-year letterman at a college that claimed he never played a single game.

He would be higher on this list, but he was actually teaching his players a valuable skill: lying on your résumé. It's like speeding or cheating in Battleship; everyone does it. I don't speak four different languages, but my employer doesn't know that.

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The key is to lie about insignificant things to avoid the only lesson on résumé padding that O'Leary forgot: Don't get caught.

9. Larry Eustachy

College is awesome. You get to go to parties, meet girls, and drink copious amount of alcohol...except if you're the coach. Then it's a little creepy and apparently looked down on by the institution.

Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy learned that the hard way after pictures were taken of him drinking at a party and macking on some coeds at Missouri, after a loss no less. The incident led to his resignation a week later and his admission of alcoholism.

The lesson? It's hard to get your players to listen to you when you tell them not to go to parties when you act like this, but at the very least they might stay in because they're afraid of seeing you there.

8. Jim Harrick

Jim Harrick was a walking NCAA violation. It started out at UCLA, where he got busted for falsifying expense reports. Then he went to Rhode Island, where he was accused of sexual misconduct with a secretary.

His pièce de résistance, however, came at Georgia, where his son and assistant coach gave members of his team A's in his Basketball Strategies class even though they didn't attend a single class. The lesson Harrick forgot to get across: At the very least, take the final.

7. Nick Saban

Nick Saban is a man of his word...for at least a good five minutes after he gives his word. When he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins, he pissed a lot of people off, but it was nothing compared to the ire he drew when he decided to leave the Dolphins in the dust and return to the collegiate ranks once more.

It probably wouldn't have been so bad had he not denied that he was contemplating taking the Alabama job over and over and over again.

The lesson here? Don't lie—unless you're going to make gobs and gobs of money because of the lie. Then it doesn't matter what people think of you because you're rich.

6. Bob Huggins

Huggy Bear was all about academics; like math. While at Cincinnati, 27 of the 95 players under him went on to graduate. Did you know that is only a percentage of 28 percent? Most of Huggins' players didn't know that because they don't know how to divide.

Not only that, but Huggins got a DUI there, and when he was pulled over, he had the audacity to ask the policeman, "Do you know who I am?"

Huggins' lesson was that it doesn't matter if you have a college degree or not, as long as you become famous enough that a cop might let you out of a DUI.

5. Eddie Sutton

Eddie Sutton tried to singlehandedly ruin my Kentucky Wildcats. Not only was he driving them into the ground competitively, but they were also put on academic probation for three years after a package that Sutton sent a highly touted recruit burst open, spilling out several large-denomination bills. Sutton was forced to resign.

Sutton forgot a very important lesson: When you're sending something illegal, make sure to use lots of duct tape—and use UPS instead of Emery Worldwide to send it. Like the late, great Mitch Hedberg once said, "I love the UPS guy, because he's a drug dealer and he doesn't even know it."

4. John Chaney

John Chaney could have been a hockey coach. After putting a rarely used player into the game to commit a hard foul, breaking the opposing player's arm, Chaney admitted to "sending in the goons" as retaliation. It must be nice to have your coach refer to you as a "goon."

Chaney also showed his exemplary character at a press conference where he went after John Calipari and threatened to kill him.

Chaney's lesson? When in doubt, resort to physical violence.

3. Woody Hayes

Woody Hayes was THE legendary coach of THE Ohio State University. However, sometimes legend status doesn't always get you a free pass. In 1978, playing Clemson in the Gator Bowl, Hayes punched an opposing player in the throat after he returned an interception to THE Ohio State sidelines.

Hayes was fired the very next day, but he passed on the lesson that if you're going to go out, go out swinging.

2. Bob Knight

Bob Knight was one of the most polarizing coaches of all time. He had the ability to be funny and was an exceptionally smart coach, but he also had one of the worst tempers you will ever see.

He was accused of choking a player, and while he was coaching at Texas Tech, he popped a player on the chin to get him to look up while Knight was talking to him. Pretty much, if you pissed off Bob Knight, you had better be prepared to physically defend yourself.

Of course, this is Knight's greatest lesson: If you're angry, a well-placed article of furniture on the court can really get people's attention.

1. Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino has set the bar incredibly high for sketchy behavior by a college coach. He already had a kind of used-car salesman personality that earned him the nickname "Slick Rick" before this new information came to light.

Pitino had sex with a woman he just met on the table of a restaurant after it had closed. Then when the women told him she was pregnant, Pitino allegedly gave her money for the abortion.

Wow. That kind of makes the rest of this list look pretty tame, doesn't it? It's even juicier that the woman became the wife (eventually ex-wife) of his assistant coach. You can't make this sort of stuff up.

The eternal lesson that Pitino leaves now? No sex in the champagne room...or the dining room either, apparently.


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