It’s definitely no surprise that coaches hate losing. With the pressure they have over their team winning, they often end up in a meltdown of catastrophic intensity. The post-game press conference doesn’t help. It’s a time to acknowledge those who did a good job in the field, and a time to reflect on what went wrong if you lost. There’s no time for the coach to cool down, and there are emotions that can’t be subdued if the coach’s team lost. And that’s when coaches blow up. But they also do that outside the press conference, using expletives while the game is going on, or right after it ends.
Think of John Chaney. Think of Jim Mora’s “Playoffs? Playoffs?” rant and Dennis Green’s “They were who we thought they were” invective. Want more? Let’s take a look at ten of the most absurd coaching meltdowns.
10. Scott Norwood, Former Arkansas-Little Rock’s Head Baseball Coach
In 2014, Scott Norwood resigned after a meltdown. While he was later cleared in an investigation that included sexual assault, a recorded audio taped Norwood’s shriek. He wasn’t furious about one thing in particular. It turns out, he’s just furious.
Norwood’s rage is supposedly representative of his attitude toward his players. The audio recording reveals how he insulted players and verbally abused them. He’s on our list of the most absurd coaching meltdowns because he’s known for his tirades, no matter if his team won or lost.
9. Rutger’s Mike Rice
Mike Rice’s meltdown is so absurd that it just had to make our list. He threw basketballs at his players’ heads and verbally abused them using profane language.
It seems like a tradition, at Rutgers. Before Rice, in the late 90s, Coach Kevin Bannon was so incensed that his team lost a free-throw shooting contest, that he made his players run around the court naked. And Fred Hill, Rice’s predecessor, ran onto a baseball field and verbally abused an umpire.
8. Jim Schoenfeld and The Doughnut
Jim Schoenfeld was coaching the New Jersey Devils in a 1988 playoff game against the Boston Bruins. Angry because of bad officiating, Schoenfeld harangued referee Don Koharski, outside the officials’ dressing room.
There was physical contact—it was called “accidental” in the papers—and Koharski demanded Schoenfeld to get his paws off him. Schoenfeld then started yelling, and ended up saying, “Have another doughnut, you fat pig.” That insult lives on in sports history, even now, years after Schoenfeld muttered it.
7. 49ers Coach, Mike Singletary
Coach Mike Singletary’s first post-game press conference a couple of years ago, has undoubtedly gone down in sports history. After the 49ers had just lost by three touchdowns to Seattle, Singletary ordered tight-end Vernon Davis off the field during the game. Singletary was so angry that he publicly called out Davis. Claiming that Davis had “selfish” behavior on the field, Singletary said he’d rather have 10 players and be penalized than use one who puts himself above the team. That line became a famous meltdown. He said, “Cannot play with them. Cannot coach with them. Cannot do it. I want winners!”
6. Jerry Burns, The Ex-Minnesota Viking’s Head Coach
Jerry Burns may be less known for his coaching, than for his November 1989 meltdown. It was after a game that then-head coach, Jerry Burns went on a profanity-laced tirade over fans booing then offensive coordinator, Bob Schnelker, despite the fact that the Vikings won that night. Burns defended Schnelker. He screamed that, as long as he was in his f***ing job, Schnelke would be the offensive coach. “No f***ing” question about that.” Every other sentence Burns uttered was filled with expletives. He said, “We can’t be responsible for the f***ing blocking, or the f***ing tackling or the f***ing guys jumping offsides.” Well, f*** that!
5. Dennis Green, Circa 2006
Another absurd coaching meltdown is by Arizona Cardinals Coach, Dennis Green, after his team lost to the Chicago Bears in 2006. A reporter asked about the Bears and the turnovers, and that was all it took for Green to break down. Green scowled, cursed, yelled and slammed the podium. He screamed, “They are who we thought they were!” This rant doesn’t include the many expletives, but it’s one of the most famous, especially after it went viral on YouTube.
Later, Green profited from his meltdown. He landed a Coor’s beer commercial, where he poked fun at his outbursts. The lesson learned here is that the higher your tirade, the more attention you get. And the more attention you get, the more you are considered for your very own commercial.
4. Mike Gundy: “Come After Me! I’m A Man! I’m 40!”
Oklahoma State coach, Mike Gundy is on our list of top coach absurd meltdowns because of an over three-minute diatribe, that eventually led to a punch line. On September 22, 2007, Gundy spewed rants that blew into a nationwide controversy, even generating a video that went viral.
After his team won against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Gundy publicly criticized a news piece about one of his players, Bobby Reid, using the press conference to attack the story. Gundy’s voice grew louder and louder as he protected his player. His rant produced the now famous line, “Come after me! I’m a man! I’m forty.” Still, he was standing up for one of his players, not deriding them. And what do you get when your “I’m forty” attack becomes a joke? You become Dennis Green. You get your own car dealership commercial, where you spoof yourself, and a most-watched YouTube video. Are we sensing a theme here?
3. Indiana Hoosiers’ Bobby Knight and The Chair
Bobby Knight is the coach of the Indiana Hoosiers. He’s on our list because he’ll go down in history for his meltdown, all because of a chair.
Two fouls and a technical for Indiana, in a game against Purdue in 1995, enraged Knight and he eventually lost it. And that’s when he flung a folding chair. He didn’t just throw it on the floor. He actually threw it across the court, landing right in the wheelchair section of the arena. Those who saw the chair careening across the court gawked in complete disbelief.
2. Lee Elia
On April 29, 1983, the Cubs lost to the Dodgers, sending them to the last place in the National League East. Afterwards, a reporter asked Cubs manager, Lee Elia a question about fan support. Elia responded with a set of profanities.
Although it’s been thirty-odd years since the tirade, it’s still the most memorable and most absurd coaching meltdown. That’s how bad Elia acted, still remembered over three decades later. Elia was angry about the loss, and nearly lost it as the team left the field. A Chicago radio reporter taped the rant and a bleeped version was broadcast over the radio, with a DJ in 1997, reminiscing that the station had an unprecedented number of calls about it. As the DJ said, “It became a classic.”
A classic indeed. At the 25th anniversary of the rant, Elia raised cash for a charity by selling autographed baseball cards that came with a cleaned-up recording of part of his meltdown. At least he saw the humor in his situation, and the fans who bought the cards, well, they obviously have never forgotten the tirade.
1. Kansas City Royals’ Hal McRae
This rant occurred during the post-game conference, which started off on a good foot. Then a reporter asked a question that Hal McRae didn’t like.
The question was whether he’d consider George Brett as a pinch hitter. McRae snapped, and history was made. In his office, he called it a “stupid a** f***ing question.” Then, before anyone could do something, McRae started throwing things, whatever was near or in front of him. He threw some objects, most notably his phone, which hit a reporter in the face, causing him to bleed. Then he knocked over chairs. McRae threw everyone out of his office, screaming at the top of his lungs, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!” And that’s why McRae is on the top of our ten most absurd coaching meltdowns. His expletives are so famous that it had its own 2oth anniversary last year, celebrating McRae’s managerial meltdowns.