Last Sunday, as I do almost every time I watch the Miami Dolphins lose, I talked with a friend about whom we’d want to replace Joe Philbin. At this point, we decided, a sock puppet with one button-eye missing because a dog chewed it off might be better than Philbin, because that sock wouldn’t give away free timeouts to the other team or get “queasy” when he had to show a little offensive aggression. Ultimately, we decided that even if Philbin is fired after another 7-9 season, Stephen Ross will just hire some guy with a fake mustache, claiming to be Gene Harbaugh, the long lost brother of Jim and John, and he’ll sign a 10-year contract with a strict no termination clause.
After we accepted the inevitability of our weekly Sunday sorrows for the rest of eternity, we asked the question that we’ve asked several times before, as I’m sure other fans have – If you could have one football coach from a TV show or movie coach your favorite team, who would it be? So I decided to do the smart thing and round up my team of crack researchers and scientists to help me determine a very scientific ranking of the best American football coaches from TV and movies. This was a really tough and thorough investigation that caused us to watch a lot of game footage and consider a lot of statistics and factors, so if I tried to explain what went into this, your heads would implode.
You’ll just have to trust my incredibly brilliant team and, most importantly, S-C-I-E-N-C-E.
25) Whoever the L.A. Stallions coach was from The Last Boy Scout
One of the unspoken duties of a coach at any level should be to not let players carry firearms in their uniforms during games. The coach of the Stallions failed to do this, and Billy Cole ended up killing three people and himself during a game. I have to imagine that the coach was fired a short time after this happened, and other teams were reluctant to hire him for any role, what with his inability to stop his players from taking PCP and murdering their opponents.
24) Coach Lambeau Fields, The Comebacks
Sure, Coach Wiseman (Carl Weathers) – SPOILER ALERT, in case you’ve been holding off on watching this turd sammich – was the better coach, but he lost to his rival and the incredibly pathetic Lambeau Fields (David Koechner, above abusing a player) of the titular Comebacks. Wiseman also had the kind of intensity and focus to run his opponent down with a bus in the end, but coaching is not only about setting a good example on and off the field. It’s about doing whatever it takes to win in the end. Last I checked, Wiseman didn’t get hit by a bus, but he also didn’t win.
23) Coach Evans, How I Got Into College
Of all of the fictional coaches, in football and all of the other wussy sports, Coach Evans was probably the worst recruiter, which is a bad thing since getting good players often leads to something the experts call winning. Landing a prized recruit like Ronny “Sure Hands” Rawlson was a huge victory for the otherwise pathetic football program at Ramsey College, but Coach Evans failed to actually get Ronny to play football, which is another pretty significant coaching flaw.
22) Coach Wayne Hisler, Johnny Be Good
Sometimes a high school coach realizes that he won’t ever find a better player than the star that’s about to leave him for college, so if there’s a door that’s open long enough to ride that kid’s coattails through it, then a coach has to take advantage of it. That’s what Johnny Walker’s coach did in this fun 80s movie that explored the temptations of being the No. 1 recruit in the country, as programs all over the nation offered this proud QB everything from money to women to join them. One school went as far as to offer Coach Hisler (classic 80s dickhead Paul Gleason) a job if he could bring his star player with him, but he wasn’t able to do so. Good coach, great speeches, bad businessman.
21) Coach Nickerson, All the Right Moves
A few years before Anthony Michael Hall played the best high school QB in America, Tom Cruise was one of the top defensive backs, which is amazing because he’s like 2-feet tall. Coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson) was a pretty intense guy and laid blame for his team’s big loss on a player who fumbled, as well as Cruise’s character for a dumb penalty. One of the primary jobs of a good coach is to really dig into a kid’s brain and let him know that he’s a disgrace to everyone in the locker room, because how will he eventually shed emotion and conscience if his spirit and confidence isn’t shattered early on? Unfortunately for Nickerson, he proved to have a fatal coaching flaw – a conscience of his own. That’s why, after he ruined his star player’s reputation across the country, he gave him a full ride at the college he ended up coaching. If you’re going to bury a kid’s reputation, don’t dig it up. Coaching 101.
20) Coach Harris, Revenge of the Nerds
On one hand, his passion is admirable. Coach Harris loves football, his players and winning, which are all important attributes. On the other hand, he encourages his entire team to commit borderline hate crimes against the school’s smartest students, and while the law enforcement and student government of Adams College might not have cared about such crimes, it would have caught up to Harris in the end. But what was much more concerning about Harris’ “Look the other way” policy is that his players were not only in a fraternity (most coaches do not allow that), but they were also competing in the Greek Games… on homecoming weekend. Sure, let your star players get hammered wasted the day before they play a big game. Nice strategy, coach.
19) Vince Penn, Draft Day
In this year’s NFL propaganda disguised as a dramatic story of heart and making the right decisions, Draft Day, Denis Leary played new Cleveland Browns coach Vince Penn, who joined the team after winning a Super Bowl with another franchise. While we never got to see him coach, he proved in the Browns’ “war room” that he was a no-nonsense guy who wouldn’t put up with GM Sonny Weaver, Jr. tanking the franchise on his way out by trading the No. 6 pick and three future first rounders for the No. 1 pick and “sure-fire” franchise QB, Bo Callahan from Wisconsin. While I’ll be nitpicking this film’s hilarious story in a month or so for a certain annual feature, Penn ended up getting everything he wanted from the No. 6 pick and more, as Callahan was exposed to be the second coming of Ryan Leaf, or something. Coaches should keep their mouths on the field and let the suits do all of the work, is what the NFL would have us believe.
18) Sam Winters, The Program
When it comes to football movies, a lot of people are always like, “Bro, The Program was the f*cking raddest, bro” and James Caan is a badass on many levels, so he can certainly leave a strong impression as a coach. We could criticize Sam Winters for a number of things – his drunk QB, juiced up defensive star, letting his daughter take tests for players – but this is more of a collective finger-wagging. Despite all of the under-the-table deals and piss transplants, Winters still couldn’t keep the heat off and his stars under control. Also, laying in the middle of the street still seems really dangerous. Athletes shouldn’t do that.
17) “Straight Arrow” Ed Gennero, Necessary Roughness
In order to rescue and salvage the Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos from the college football death penalty, after a number of students were stupid enough to accept gifts from boosters in front of cameras, Coach Gennero was brought in to fix the program the way that only he could. The problem with the “Straight Arrow,” though, was that he wasn’t a “players’ coach” and he handled everything, from academics to off-field transgressions, by the book. That’s commendable, but sometimes a team of afterthoughts, losers and washed up 30-somethings needs a voice who understands what they’re going through. That’s why the ‘Dillos benefited from having Wally Riggendorf as an assistant coach; however, he proved that he wasn’t good enough to be the guy wearing the tie.
16) The Coach, Not Another Teen Movie
Science appreciates a coach that puts up with exactly 0% bulllllllllllsh*t in his locker room and on his sidelines, so The Coach earned high grades in his ability to scream at kids and make sure they knew that he was in charge. But he also lost a few points in allowing one of his players to reach his concussion threshold. Also, Jake Wyler, despite being the popular jock, was a really lousy QB and he contributed greatly to Marty’s murder. I’m not sure that John Hughes High should have even had a program after that.