They can’t all be Coach Taylor.
In fact, the coaching profession lends itself douchebaggery, assholishness, personal corruption and general malevolence. Think about the men we consider paragons of the profession: Bobby Knight, John Wooden, Adolph Rupp. These are our heroes?
Jim Nantz, Billy Packer, Dick Vitale and a million mediocre sportswriters love to wax rhapsodic about college coaches as educators, molders of young men and architects of character. And sure, there are probably a handful who aspire to be just that. But the vast majority are power-mad, career-driven pricks, probably frustrated by their own lack of athletic ability (or lack of a worthy pro career after excelling in college). They yell and they stomp and they ban cellphones from practice, and they speak at press conferences about “the effort not being there.”
There are, by and large, awful people.
With March Madness upon us, let’s count down the worst of this gang of villains, the least honorable among thieves. Without further ado, Pop Culture Has AIDS presents the nine biggest douchebag coaches in NCAA basketball. (In honor of the tournament, we considered doing this bracket style, but we’re too lazy.) Now who’s ready for some cheap shots, superficial insults and baseless accusations?!
9. John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats
A lot of college hoops observers would put Calipari #1 on this list, but I have a certain begrudging admiration for Ol’ Cal. He treats NCAA basketball for what it is: a big business, a minor league for the NBA, and a place to get rich at others’ expense. He barely tries to hide his chicanery. He brazenly leaves programs right before the NCAA hammer comes down, skirting all responsibility and punishment, then starts it all up again at the next place. He and Kentucky are made for each other. That school knows a thing or two about NCAA violations.
8. Jim Calhoun, UConn Huskies
Braintree, Massachusetts’s own Jim Calhoun turned around a perpetually weak UConn program, and kept the Huskies relevant for decades. But his personality resembles that of a villain in a John Hughes movie. His arrogance precedes him at every turn — before Calhoun enters a building, his arrogance goes in first, looks around, checks for trouble, and clears the way for Mighty Jim. He’s consistently a dick at press conferences — I know a lot of beat writers are dumb, but there aren’t that many difficult aspects of being a multi-million-dollar, big-time head coach, so you should be able to suffer fools a little bit. And how has he achieved his success? He was suspended three games this year for “failing to create an atmosphere of compliance.” In other words, he turned his head and coughed while boosters funneled players cash and handouts. If the bumbling, corrupt NCAA manages to catch you once, it’s a pretty solid bet that you’re a consistent cheater.
7. Billy Donovan, Florida Gators
Donovan comes from the Rick Pitino coaching tree. Isn’t there a saying about fruit from a poisoned tree? Donovan’s haircut should be preserved in the Smithsonian as “NCAA basketball coach haircut, official.” The Florida coach signed a big-money contract to coach the Orland Magic, but backed out the very next day.
6. Roy Williams, North Carolina Tar Heels
Williams’s demeanor belies his true self. He comes across as a kind, fatherly sort, when he’s just as cutthroat as any winning Division 1 coach needs to be to succeed. He plays himself off as a hayseed. Just look at this insipid quote:
I’m naive. You’ve got to understand this. I’m naïve as all get out. I’m corny as all get out. I think North Carolina fans ought to cheer for North Carolina people and not criticize.
Guh. It’s like he’s doing a version of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer — Redneck Dummy Hoops Coach. So, fans can’t criticize the team but the coach can criticize the fans? And hey, remember when he compared a losing UNC season to the earthquake in Haiti? Good fucking times.
5. Jeff Capel, Oklahoma Sooners
Capel played at Duke and coaches at Oklahoma. What more do you need to know? More? OK: he married a fellow Duke alum and named their child Cameron Isabella Capel. I’d like to introduce you to my children: Yankee Stadium Dilemma and New Meadowlands Stadium Dilemma. And not that it distinguishes Capel from most of his brethren in the college coaches club, but recruiting improprieties are already starting to pop up.
UPDATE: PCHA clearly has tremendous influence. Capel’s already been fired. Eight to go!
4. Kevin O’Neill, USC Trojans
Look, if USC hires someone, they’re basically guaranteed to be a dirtbag, right? Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin, Tim Floyd…it was only a matter of time before Kevin O’Neill showed his true colors. O’Neill, whose rise to power included a stint helping ensure that the official school of PCHA will never make the Big Dance, got into a drunken argument with Arizona fans in a bar, and has been suspended for the rest of the Pac 10 tournament. That’s right out of the George Steinbrenner playbook.
3. Rick Pitino, Louisville Cardinals
Oh, Rick. Rick, Rick, Rick, Rick. Where to begin? I respected you as coach of the Providence Friars, loved you when you came to the New York Knicks, and even admired you when you were winning titles with your semi-pro team at Kentucky. Where did all go wrong? Look, I know you were extorted, but paying women off for abortions and their silence seems just a touch déclassé, no? And I also really wish that you hadn’t pioneered the whole coach-as-motivational-speaker/business-guru kind of thing. Being able to draw up a killer press scheme doesn’t mean you’re qualified to do anything else.
2. Bob Huggins, West Virginia Mountaineers
As Huggins nudges toward grandpa age, he starts to come off as irascible and almost cuddly, rather than the abrasive, cowardly bully that he is. While lifting Cincinnati to national prominence, Huggins earned a reputation for fielding violent teams, all elbows and groin shots and poor free throw percentage. He fostered an environment of violence on his squads by running practices like the sadistic drill sergeant from Band of Brothers. He screamed himself hoarse and physically imposed himself on his academically inept players. After a DUI, Huggins was fired from Cincinnati and proceeded to lie to the press about almost everything involved with his ouster. That his stint in West Virginia has been relatively quiet doesn’t mean his history gets erased.
1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Blue Devils
I’m sorry, you were expecting someone else? Someone a bit less obvious? Well, we’re not in this thing to catch you off guard. We’re in it to be right. “Coach K” is the epitome of everything I despise in college coaches. He’s arrogant. He’s entitled. He’s corrupt. He’s sanctimonious. He deals in cliches. He treats college-aged men like incontinent five-year-olds. And, as Jalen Rose pointed out in the recent 30 for 30 film about the Fab Five, it certainly seems like only a certain kind of black man is ever allowed play for the Duke basketball team.
Also, he looks like a rabid rat.
So, is it a coincidence that most of these douchebags are also highly successful. No. No, it is not. Winning in college sports requires playing within a gamed system. If you try to be the one honest guy out there, you’re going to lose, and you’re going to get fired. These ten are only the tip of the iceberg. And this particular douchey iceberg goes way down into the water. Ever seen high school basketball coaches? Think they’re good guys?