The 40 Worst Pro Coaches in Sports History

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2011

The 40 Worst Pro Coaches in Sports History

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    It isn't hard to list off some of the greatest coaches in sports history—Red Auerbach, Vince Lombardi, Scotty Bowman and Tony LaRussa, to name a few.

    But who are the worst?

    Who are the coaches that compiled such a horrendous record they deserve to be remembered for their ineptitude? Which coaches turned good teams into rotten ones? Who are the coaches that alienated players, gave up on their teams and clearly were overmatched?

    John Wooden once said, "I don't believe in praying to win."

    But the following coaches probably should have given it a shot.

    (Note: This article is focused on professional coaches from the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB so as to provide a more focused scope. It only takes into account a coach's career in the professional ranks, as a few coaches listed here are well-renowned college coaches. This list only deals with time spent as a head coach.)

40. Ron Wilson's Relatives

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    The son: Ron Wilson has been a pretty solid NHL coach 628-538-85 mark in 18 seasons, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with Washington in 1997-98. But the rest of his family didn't do so well in the coaching ranks.

    The father: Larry Wilson took over for the Red Wings mid-season and promptly finished the 1976-77 season with a 3-29-4 record. He was fired after the season.

    The uncle: Johnny Wilson compiled a career record of 187-241-89. He at least made the playoffs twice, though his record was a paltry 4-8. He was fired from Detroit in 1973.

    For a fun read on the whole thing, check this out.

39. Paul Holmgren

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    Holmgren's coaching record was 161-219-45 for the Philadelphia Flyers and Hartford Whalers, and he only appeared in the playoffs once in his career.

    Holmgren would temporarily give up his coaching duties during the 1993-94 season to focus on his GM duties, return to coaching and then eventually be fired in 1995-96 after a 5-6-1 start.

38. Rick Pitino

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    Some guys are just better suited to the college game. Rick Pitino was one of them.

    While Pitino actually went 52-30 with the Knicks in 1988-89 and led them to the playoffs, it is his time in Boston that he is remembered for in NBA circles. He was 102-146 with the Celtics, a disappointing mark for a legend of the college game.

    And Pitino knew where he belonged. From Sports Illustrated after he stepped down in 2001:

    Pitino's confidence is still intact despite his time in Boston. "I won't say I'm humbled, but I know where I didn't do a good job," he says.

    He would also add, "I found out I would rather try to teach a kid to be a pro than coach in the pros."

37. John Calipari

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    As with many others on this list, Calipari's record—which, at 72-112 over two seasons and change with the Nets was pretty bad—doesn't tell the full story. From ESPN:

    From day one, Calipari's talk of "changing the culture" rubbed members of the organization the wrong way. Sure, he was right (after all, the Nets had won just 30 games in each of the previous two seasons), but the holdovers, who had essentially run the place like a mom-and-pop operation, took offense at the way the savvy young hotshot pooh-poohed their way of doing things. He was also demanding to the point of absurdity, driving secretaries and underlings crazy.

    "He would ask you to do something that can't be done in three days and he'd want it done in three hours," said one former member of the organization who was there for Calipari's final season. "You'd tell him it can't be done, and he was like, 'Yeah, it [bleeping] can.'"

    And, accustomed to being the kingpin on a college campus, Calipari would stick his head where it didn't belong. He'd offer advice to those on the business side of the franchise, telling them a better way to do things. Pat Riley, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich can do that. But a 30-something pretty boy from the Atlantic 10?

    Calipari has found himself mired in scandals throughout the course of his career. Turns out he isn't very fun to work for either.

36. Lane Kiffin

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    Sometimes, being a professional coach is about more than the wins and losses, or even what happens on the field.

    Yes, Lane Kiffin had a 5-15 record in his short stint with the Raiders. But many people actually felt he made the Raiders more competitive than they had been during his tenure. What Kiffin couldn't do was keep himself out of controversy off the field (a pattern that would continue). From The New York Times, after Kiffin's dismissal:

    [Al] Davis displayed and read from a three-page letter he gave Kiffin in September that enumerated his mistakes on and off the field. It cited things like clashes over personnel moves and what Davis considered lies Kiffin told the news media.

    Kiffin later told ESPN, “I was embarrassed to watch that.”

    Davis said Kiffin had disgraced the Raiders, and that—not his 5-15 record— was why he fired Kiffin. “I don’t think it was any one thing,” Davis said. “It was a cumulative thing. I think the pattern just disturbed me.”

    There is a sentence in here that shows Kiffin in a more positive light in hindsight, however:

    At his news conference, Davis complained about Kiffin’s objection to drafting quarterback JaMarcus Russell and Kiffin’s apparent lack of interest in embracing the Raiders’ traditions that Davis holds dear.

    Al Davis and Lane Kiffin were a match made in hell. But they were so awful together, hell kicked them out.

35. Norv Turner

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    Norv Turner's career record is 103-109.

    It shouldn't be.

    Turner has had extremely talented teams during his tenure in San Diego, though he has managed to reach the AFC Championship game only once, a loss in 2007. His team went 13-3 and earned a bye in 2009, only to be upset in the divisional round by the New York Jets.

    It's a wonder Turner got the job—he was 49-59 with the Redskins and 9-23 with the Raiders.

    To be fair, Turner is 45-27 in San Diego. To be honest—given San Diego's talent level over the years—many Chargers' fans may feel that is in spite of Turner.

34. Bruce Coslet

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    Coslet resigned three games into the 2000 season with the Bengals. It's a small wonder why. From ABC:

    Cincinnati’s total of seven points in the first three games is the lowest for a three-game stretch since the 1978 team scored three points in three weeks during a 4-12 season. Sunday’s loss was the 28th in 35 games under Coslet.

    Things started brightly for Coslet, who took over for Mike Shula (who will be heard from again) during the 1996 season and led the Bengals to a 7-2 finish.

    And then his team's would digress, going 14-37 for the duration of his tenure there. Perhaps this shouldn't have come as a surprise: He was 26-38 in four years as head coach of the Jets from 1990-93.

33. Dick LeBeau

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    Coslet would be replaced by Dick LeBeau, one of the finest defensive coordinators in NFL history who is credited with introducing the zone blitz into the modern NFL.

    He wasn't much of a head coach, however—in his three seasons with Cincinnati, Coslet would accumulate a horrid 12-33 record, including a 2-14 mark in 2002, his last season as a head coach.

32. Bill Hanzlik

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    Bill Hanzlik coached all of one year in the NBA. In that season, he took a team that was 21-61 and actually made them worse, finishing the year 11-71. From The New York Times:

    Hanzlik had two years remaining on the contract he signed before the season. ''The Nuggets franchise must move forward and put this disappointing season behind,'' said Dan Issel, the vice president and general manager. ''Bill Hanzlik was basically thrown into a no-win situation. Is it fair? Probably not.''

    Hanzlik had no head coaching experience but had been an assistant for six seasons, most recently with the Atlanta Hawks.

    Fair or not, you have to do better than 11 wins.

31. Bobby Petrino

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    Petrino may not be the worst professional coach on this list, but he is one of the most deplorable.

    After being hired by the Falcons in 2007, Michael Vick was arrested for dog-fighting, essentially leaving Petrino and the Falcons screwed for the season. For most, their 3-10 record was understandable.

    What wasn't understandable was Petrino lying to Arthur Blank about remaining with the team only days before announcing he was taking the head coaching position at Arkansas and never telling the players directly, instead leaving notes in their lockers announcing he was moving on.

    Good riddance for many Falcons—he wasn't exactly popular in the locker room.

30. Eddie Jordan

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    Eddie Jordan's career record of 257-343 isn't very good. But he makes this list namely for the one season he spent in Philadelphia in 2010, when the team plummeted to a 27-54 mark.

    In both the previous and following season the Sixers would finish 41-41. So what did Eddie do?

    We get the following from Anthony Gargano of AOL:

    Last summer, during his introductory tour as the latest ridiculous choice as coach of a once-elite franchise in a now hoop-rotted town, Eddie Jordan leaned into me and proclaimed with professorial arrogance, "You see, everyone is a point guard in this offense."

    He harrumphed, comically, when pressed to answer how the Princeton offense could work for a Sixers team without a proven point guard or a legitimate perimeter threat.

    The layman's retort: How could an offense based on ball movement work without a playmaker? And, furthermore, even if you swung the ball effectively, what good is an open look if you can't convert? And since the opposition knows you can't shoot, it's not going to guard you away from the basket anyway and allow the backdoor cuts that are also a staple of this Princeton offense.

    And let's not forget this:

    Didn't matter the catcalls for Princeton's job began midway through the season after an array of nonsensical substitutions, the lack of a consistent rotation, the regression of some of the younger players (such as Thaddeus Young), placing no emphasis on defense—which, along with a transition game, had the same team in the playoffs a year ago—and stubbornly sticking with an offensive mindset that clearly didn't fit his personnel.

    In my book, the most obvious indication of poor coaching—poor leadership, really—comes from those final words: "Stubbornly sticking with an offensive mindset that clearly didn't fit his personnel."

    If you don't know what you have, you don't know what you can do.

29. Ted Williams

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    I don't think anybody ever said, "There goes the greatest manager ever" when Ted Williams walked by.

    Williams managed for four years, each worst than the last. From 1969-71, he managed the Washington Senators, taking them from 86-76 to 70-92 to 63-96.

    In 1972, he took over duties for the Texas Rangers and went 45-100.

    And so, we will remember him as Teddy Ballgame rather than Teddy Double-Switch.

28. Josh McDaniels

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    Full disclosure: I think Josh McDaniels is kind of a bozo.

    Maybe it was this, from the Denver Post:

    Almost from the beginning, though, McDaniels was embroiled in controversy. Soon after settling in, he engaged in a personality clash with star quarterback Jay Cutler, who eventually was traded to the Chicago Bears​ in exchange for Orton and draft picks. McDaniels also had fallouts with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan​, who left after one season, and tight end Tony Scheffler, who was traded to Detroit this past offseason.

    Running back Peyton Hillis​, who received only 13 carries from McDaniels last year, was shipped to Cleveland in the offseason for backup quarterback Brady Quinn​, but is having a Pro Bowl season. All-pro receiver Brandon Marshall​ also was traded this past offseason.

    It could have been this, from ESPN:

    His biggest blunder might have been the hiring of videographer Steve Scarnecchia, who violated league rules by videotaping a San Francisco 49ers practice in London on Oct. 30. McDaniels was fined $50,000 by the NFL for failing to report the transgression.

    Or it could be that he not only selected Tim Tebow in the first round (when many thought he would drop well below that), but he traded three picks to move up and select him.

    In other words, there's a whole lot of important context to the 11-17 record McDaniels compiled in just over a season-and-a-half.

27. Stump Merrill

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    From TotalProSports:

    Merrill replaced Dent, who had the Yankees out to a 18-31 record to start the 1990 season.  Dent was hired late in the 1989 season, and he had a miserable 36-53 record in 89 games during his time in the Yankees dugout.  In a rather controversial move, Dent was fired by owner George Steinbrenner during a road trip to Boston.  Merrill was hired shortly after, but he didn’t fare too well either, managing 275 games for the Yankees and putting together a 120-155 record before being fired at the end of the 1991 season.  He was replaced by Buck Showalter in the offseason.

    Of the 34 managers in Yankees history, only 11 have been unable to accumulate a record above the .500 mark.  Both Dent and Merrill are on that list.

    It's like I always say: Never trust a man named Stump.

    I've never actually said that, but I'm going to start saying it now.

26. Ebbie Goodfellow

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    Ebbie Goodfellow was a Hall of Famer during his days with the Detroit Red Wings from 1929 to 1944.

    He was not a Hall of Fame coach, however—in his two seasons on the bench for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1951-52, Goodfellow went 30-91-19.

25. Terry Bevington

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    This pretty much sums it up:

    Bevington had trouble communicating with his players, had strained relations with some of his coaches, alienated the media and turned off the fans. But his biggest problem was the team's failure to make the playoffs, despite a huge payroll and the addition of Albert Belle.

    "I'm not going to sit here and knock him,'' general manager Ron Schueler said. "I think a lot of managers would like to be over .500 and they aren't.''

    Bevington had a 222-214 record after taking over in June 1995 for Gene Lamont. He couldn't be reached for comment.

24. Barry Melrose

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    On one hand, Barry Melrose led the Kings to a Stanley Cup appearance in the 1992-93 season.

    On the other hand, he missed the playoffs the next two years and was fired.

    And then there was his stint with the Lightning in 2008, in which he was fired after only 16 games and a 5-7-4 mark. From ESPN:

    One Lightning player told Friday night that Melrose was incredibly easygoing and personable. But he did not come to camp with a plan that was going to help a team that had undergone a dramatic overhaul of personnel in the offseason.

    It was, the player said, like shinny hockey with a few fights thrown in for good measure.

    There was no system. No plan. At least not one that was discernible, he said.

    And while it may not have totally been Melrose's fault—the team went 19-33-14 the rest of the way—Melrose lost the locker room pretty quickly and the experiment clearly failed.

23. John McCloskey

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    Listen, I can't find a picture or much information on John McCloskey. But I do know this: In five seasons split between the Louisville Colonels and St. Louis Cardinals, his teams were 190-417.

    For fans of understatement, I offer the following: That's a pretty bad managerial career.

22. Joe Bugel

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    Joe Bugel is one of the more beloved figures in Redskins history, famously giving the offensive linemen he coached the nickname of "the Hogs" in the '80s.

    He was not, however, a very successful head coach. In four seasons with the Cardinals (1990-93) and one season with the Raiders, Bugel posted a dismal 24-56 record, good for a .300 winning percentage.

21. P. J. Carlesimo

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    Beyond his record, I think the following paragraph from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! pretty much sums up Carlesimo's shortcomings as a coach:

    After building a reputation as an unrepentant screamer in his first two NBA jobs in Portland and Golden State, Carlesimo sold himself as reformed with a five-year stay on Popovich’s staff. He insisted that he learned the art of developing relationships with players under the four-time-champion Spurs coach, but several sources insisted that he reverted back to the strident ways that precipitated the Latrell Sprewell attack in 1999.

    The record isn't exactly sparkling, however: 204-296. And though he led Portland to three straight playoff trips from 1995-97, the team never advanced past the first round. He was fired from the Thunder in 2008 after opening the season with a 1-12 mark.

20. Buddy Bell

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    Most guys will appear on this list because they failed badly for one team.

    Buddy Bell failed pretty badly for three.

    Detroit Tigers (1996-98): 184-277

    Colorado Rockies (2000-02): 161-185

    Kansas City Royals (2005-07): 174-262

    Were they teams rife with talent? No.

    Does anyone want to say they ended their managerial career with a winning percentage of .418? Most certainly not.

19. Tim Floyd

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    Tim Floyd was 49-190 with the Bulls. And yes, this was the Bulls immediately after Jordan retired and Phil Jackson left and they were a mess, but man, 49-190 is just atrocious.

    A 41-41 season with the Hornets and a trip to the playoffs (where the team lost in the first round) in 2003-04 upped his NBA record to 90-231, though he was fired after the season.

18. Jimmie Wilson

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    No matter how you slice it, Jimmie Wilson did not lead men to victory.

    In the nine years he managed, his highest winning percentage was .484 with the Cubs in 1943. His career record was an atrocious 493-735. In 1938, he led the Phillies to an astonishingly poor 45-103 record.

    Give him this: From 1934-38, he was a player-manager for the Phillies, no easy task because of his dual duties and because it was for the Phillies, who were pretty bad at the time.

17. Mike Singletary

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    18-22 doesn't seem like a terrible mark. But the 49ers were primed for a playoff run in 2010 and were a trendy pick to win the NFC West after finishing 8-8 the year before.

    Singletary and the Niners promptly went 5-10 before he was fired before the final week, in a season that can only be described as bizarre. From ESPN:

    This year, Singletary fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye after Week 3, then lost secondary coach and special assistant, Johnnie Lynn, when he resigned for personal reasons earlier this month.

    Singletary switched quarterbacks three different times, starting with Alex Smith, going to Troy Smith for five games even after Alex Smith's hurt non-throwing shoulder had healed, then back to Alex Smith for two games before Troy Smith started Sunday—only to give way to Alex Smith in the fourth quarter after Troy Smith had a heated exchange with Singletary.

    What the hell, Mike?

16. Phil Regan

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    On one hand, Phil Regan had a tough assignment when he took over as the Orioles skipper in 1995—get to know his team during a shortened spring training due to the 1994 strike.

    On the other hand, he inherited a talented team coming off of three consecutive winning seasons. Regan was a disappointment. We get the following from a Buster Olney article for the Baltimore Sun:

    The club started poorly, and the roster turned over. Many departing players and some who stayed groused that Mr. Regan was a poor communicator. First reliever Brad Pennington, then outfielder Andy Van Slyke, and catcher Matt Nokes; by the end of the year, Mr. Regan had confrontations with outfielder Brady Anderson and pitchers Ben McDonald and Kevin Brown.

    "When people do well," Mr. Regan said, "you have communication. If they don't, then they say there's no communication. You can't go around every day as a manager and say, 'Hey, you're not going to play.' "

    Pitcher Mike Mussina said: "I don't think [Mr. Regan] gave some guys a chance. Other guys he gave more than enough chances. It's a tough job. Everyone is looking at you. If we don't win, it's [his] fault. But a lot of times, he's not the reason we lost.

    Regan and the Orioles went 71-73 under his watch, and he was dismissed after the season. The Orioles would go on to make the playoffs the next two seasons, losing in the ALCS in each.

15. Cam Cameron

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    Cameron was a head coach for one season in the NFL—a 1-15 stinker in 2007 with the Dolphins, a team that was 6-10 the year before and would reach the playoffs under Tony Sparano the next at 11-5.

    Enough said.

14. Anybody Managing the Pirates Since 1992

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    Since Barry Bonds bolted to San Francisco, the Pirates have suffered through 19-straight losing seasons. And, while it would be unfair to pick on any individual managers while they've been completely hampered by Pittsburgh's front office, you would think one of the seven managers in that time could at least have managed a .500 record.

    The closest they came was in 1997, when the team went 79-83 for Gene Lamont in his first year managing the team.

13. Ray Handley

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    After winning his second Super Bowl in 1990 with the Giants, Bill Parcells stepped down due to heart problems. On staff, the Giants had two assistants that would later go on to win Super Bowls as head coaches—defensive coordinator Bill Belichick and receivers coach Tom Coughlin.

    But Giants general manager George Young was partial to Ray Handley, the running backs coach. From the New York Daily News:

    So, when Boston College wanted Coughlin as the '90 season came to a close, the Giants didn't stop him, although he remained through the Super Bowl. And when it became evident the Browns were going to hire Belichick immediately after the Super Bowl, Young did not step in to ask him to wait out Parcells, whose future was the talk of Super Bowl week in Tampa.

    Parcells didn't do the Giants any favors by waiting until May 15, 1991, to resign, more than 3-1/2 months after the Super Bowl. Although he did not say it at the time, Parcells later revealed that heart problems were the reason he left.

    Parcells took Young off the hook because Belichick and Coughlin were already gone by the time he quit, clearing the way for Young to hire Handley without much second-guessing.

    Handley would take the Super Bowl winners and lead them to 8-8 and 6-10 records the next two years, failing to make the playoffs.

12. Marty Mornhinweg

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    In his two seasons with the Lions from 2001-02, Mornhinweg went an atrocious 5-27.

    But perhaps the moment he'll always be remembered for was his unexplainable decision to take the wind and kick to the Bears in an overtime game in 2002. From SB Nation:

    The Windy City was living up to its nickname on that chilly November day, and Mornhinweg thought that Hanson, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, would be better off with the wind at his back. Mornhinweg took the wind and let the Bears have the ball. 

    Paul Edinger hit a 40-yard field goal on the Bears' first try with the ball. Bears 20, Lions 17.

    Hell, it inspired Dan Shanoff to pen a rap entitled "Lose Your Game," to the music of Detroit-native Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

    That's never good.

11. Steve Spurrier

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    There have been worse records than the 12-20 mark Spurrier compiled during his two years coaching the Redskins.

    But Spurrier—whose Fun and Gun offense didn't really translate to a Redskins team that saw him use Patrick Ramsey, Rob Johnson, Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews at quarterback—ultimately quit on his team. From Sports Illustrated:

    Steve now admits that for the first time in his life, he just quit. "Toward the middle of that second year I was like Jo Dee Messina and her song My Give a Damn's Busted. Toward the end there, my give a damn was busted. This is not the way I ever coached. I even turned over the play-calling to one of the offensive assistants, Hue Jackson. I let him call the plays there for several games, and then I'd come back and call some, and then I'd say, 'Why don't you call them this week?' And so we went back and forth. I'm not proud of what happened, but there it is."

10. Isiah Thomas

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    There is no question that Isiah Thomas was a failure of epic proportions as a general manager—he was responsible for some of the worst personnel moves I've ever seen.

    And, while his tenure as the coach in New York was terrible, he wasn't awful in the three years he was with Indiana, never finishing below .500 and making the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.

    But that 56-108 mark in two seasons with the Knicks, paired with the personnel disasters, makes it impossible to leave him off this list.

9. Rich Kotite

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    Rich Kotite's career record of 40-56 gives him too much credit.

    He found some success in Philadelphia after taking over in 1991 (including a trip to the playoffs in 1992), and found himself at the helm of a 7-2 team in 1994. And then the wheels fell off.

    The Eagles finished that year with seven straight losses and Kotite was promptly fired. He then "led" the Jets to 3-13 and 1-15 marks the next two seasons before being canned.

    That's right, Kotite's record over his final two-and-a-half seasons was a staggering 4-35.

    To put this into perspective, Bill Parcells took over the Jets after Kotite and led them to a 9-7 mark in 1997. In '98, the Jets finished 12-4 and lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.

8. Dave Shula

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    Like father, like son?

    Not exactly. Consider the following:

    Don Shula has the most wins in NFL history, finishing his career with a record of 328-156-6. His son Dave spent four-and-a-half seasons with the Bengals, compiling a record of 19-52.

    Don Shula has the 10th-best winning percentage in NFL history for coaches with 50 games experience or more at .678. Dave Shula has the third-worst winning percentage in NFL history under the same criteria at .268.


7. Marion Campbell

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    You don't get to become a head coach at the NFL level without being a talented coach on some level. And Marion Campbell was certainly a talented defensive coordinator, as this 1986 Sports Illustrated article about Campbell attested to:

    Many coaches say that Atlanta's defensive coordinator, Marion Campbell, wrote the textbook on how to play defense in the modern NFL. At Friday's Falcon practice Dick Vermeil, who worked the Atlanta-49ers game for CBS, watched Campbell run his group through its drills and smiled. "The best in the business," he said, referring to Campbell. "In the six years he ran our defense in Philadelphia, we won 53 games, and there were only seven in which we had to score more than 20 points to win."

    Campbell wasn't such a great head coach, however. In two head-coaching stints with the Falcons and one with the Philadelphia Eagles, Campbell compiled a miserable 34-80-1 record.

6. Roy Rubin and Kevin Loughery

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    The 1972-73 Sixers went a whopping 9-73.

    The coaching duties that year were split between Roy Rubin (4-47) and Kevin Loughery (5-26).

    Rubin would not be a head coach again in the NBA. Loughery would go on to post a 474-663 career record in the NBA.

5. Rod Marinelli

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    All you really have to say about Rod Marinelli as a head coach in the NFL is two numbers:


    That was the Lions record in 2008, Marinelli's last season in Detroit. It remains the only 0-16 season in NFL history, and it is still hard to fathom that Marinelli couldn't lead his bunch to at least one victory.

    Of course, it didn't help that they were outscored 517-268 that year.

    And while a huge portion of the blame has to go to Matt Millen and his curious (read: atrocious) tenure as the general manager, Marinelli compiled a putrid 12-41 mark from 2006-08, earning him the dubious distinction of being one of the worst coaches in professional history.

4. Maury Wills

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    Maury Wills had a 26-56 record as manager over parts of two seasons for the Mariners in 1980 and 1981. But that only tells a small part of the story. Hardball Times does a bang-up job telling the rest:

    After an initial period when he failed to discipline openly insubordinate players, the skipper attempted to run spring training in a manner more familiar to boot camp, with predictable results.

    Of course, part of Wills’ problems in spring training might have been that he decided being a major league manager was too easy. To attempt to make things more difficult for himself, Wills developed a cocaine problem.

    The coke habit might have had something to do with a spring training game Wills left in the sixth inning without telling anyone why. Wills also developed a habit of announcing he had roles planned for players who were no longer on the Mariners’ roster.

    He also made pronouncements about players, batting order, what position players would occupy and the like, only to go back on them, sometimes within a day of the original announcement. 


3. Joe Quinn

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    Quinn was the first Australian-born player to play professional baseball in the United States.

    He should have stuck to playing.

    His record as a manager was just plain awful: 23-132, including one of the worst seasons in baseball history, a 12-104 mark with the Cleveland Spiders in 1899.

2. Bert Bell

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    Bert Bell is one of the most important figures in NFL history. He was the co-founder and co-owner of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1933-40, co-owner of the Steelers from 1941-46, and commissioner of the NFL from 1946-59 where, among his many other achievements, he recognized the NFL Player's Association.

    His accomplishments did not include his ability to coach, however.

    His 10-46-2 record with the Eagles and very briefly the Steelers from 1936-41 left him with the worst winning percentage for coaches with 50 or more starts in NFL history, a horrifying .179.

1. Ned Harkness

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    In Detroit, the reign of Ned Harkness is remembered as "Darkness with Harkness."

    Here's the paraphrased story (for the whole tale, go here and here): Harkness was hired to be the Red Wings coach in 1971 after a successful tenure at Cornell. He replaced Red Wings legend Sid Abel, who became the team's GM. Despite making the playoffs the year before, Detroit started 12-22-4 under Harkness.

    Harkness was never suited for the NHL game and alienated himself from players with his uptight tactics (strict policies on smoking and drinking, for instance), including ascending-star Garry Unger, whose hair Harkness thought was too long.

    Harkness was also known for moving around the bench in an attempt to motivate various players throughout the game, though it only made Detroit's line changes unorganized and often cost them penalties for having too many players on the ice.

    When Abel—who was intent on firing Harkness himself—brought forward a petition from the players to have Harkness fired to owner Bruce Norris, Norris had none of it, and Abel promptly resigned.

    While Narkness would be relieved of his head-coaching duties, he was lucky enough to have a position waiting for him with the Red Wings—Abel's vacated general manager position.

    My name is Timothy Rapp, and I put the "grrrr" in Swagger.

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