Every coach has some degree of an angry demeanor to their personality. To deal with players, executives, and the media to name a few contentious groups that encircle a coach’s day-to-day operations, a coach of even the most docile sensibility can get mean when warranted. All of those pressures can be corrosive and wear on the thickest skinned coaches around. In the end, the coach is the scapegoat for his players’ lack of performance and the failure to bring home the championship. Fair or not, that is the nature of the business.
However, there are coaches who come equipped with a very short fuse for all of the nonsense that comes with the title. They are the ones that patrol the sidelines, dugouts, and benches with a storm cloud brewing behind their scowling expressions, waiting to explode in a fit of rage at a moment’s notice. Players and referees alike are not safe from their wrath. The rampage does not remain isolated to the field of play. The media incurs the brunt of that game’s frustrations in the inane ritual known as the postgame press conference. After the most frustrating of games, it is no secret what the gathered media will get in return for their queries: fiery retorts and golden sound-bites abound.
The coaches on this list are among the angriest in the profession today. They work on everyone’s last nerve as much as they are developing their own peptic ulcers through all of their rage. Some are successful in spite of their volatility and others are known more for their outbursts than wins and losses. Regardless, these fifteen coaches have made this list due to their fiery nature first and foremost.
10. Rob Ryan – New Orleans Saints
The only assistant coach to crack the list, the other Ryan twin is just like his brother Rex – if he were a hard-drinking, fishing boat captain sailing off the Alaskan coast somewhere. While he is not as verbose as his brother, Rob has burned many bridges as a defensive coordinator at various stops around the league. Rob has butted heads numerous times with Saints head coach Sean Payton in 2014 over New Orleans’ leaky defense. The common thread is the Ryan charm of making more enemies than friends. The evil twin may soon find himself in the unemployment line with his brother. Coordinators should be seldom seen, but Ryan is unavoidable for the flowing locks he displays as part of his angry renegade image.
9. Gregg Popovich – San Antonio Spurs
“Pop” looks professorial and rightfully so. Overseeing one of the most technically sound trios in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, the Spurs head coach can teach a master class on how to efficiently run an NBA dynasty. Now that those three are in the twilight of their careers, Popovich knows better than to use up his best weapons against lesser opponents. For that, he has been thoroughly criticized and has responded like a bitter professor counting down the days until his pension kicks in. Having earned the right to manage his stars the way he sees fit, Popovich has added curmudgeon to the adjectives assigned to him.
8. Matt Williams – Washington Nationals
The hard-nosed mentality that Williams possessed as a player has followed him into the dugout as manager of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are a bunch of highly touted, high-ceiling talents that can be perceived as prima donna-ish. Williams is the right manager for a group of players that have probably never been challenged by a coach in their baseball lives. Williams will never allow a player to become larger than the team itself. For example, the Bryce Harper flap over playing time was quickly squashed. To take on the franchise’s future superstar, Williams has the intestinal fortitude to channel his rage constructively for the benefit of the team.
7. Nick Saban – Alabama Crimson Tide
Saban has watched over the rise of the Crimson Tide back to a national power with as joyful of an expression as someone with a chronic migraine. Who knows why many successful coaches are the most unhappy or unaffected by their spoils, but Saban has a flippant air about him that does not scream satisfied. This can be interpreted as anger in a bitter form that begets surliness. Perhaps, it is his unwavering expression of unflinching dissatisfaction that makes Saban seem mad. An embarrassment of riches and his outward expression is still that of a peasant. For that, Saban earns a place for not cracking more than a wry smirk.
6. Bill Belichick – New England Patriots
Taking stock of what all Belichick has accrued over his time in New England, the three-time Super Bowl winner is still as miserable as a January day in Massachusetts. Think about it. What other coach falls into a franchise quarterback turned all-time great in the sixth round, builds a dynasty, and then continues to grumble? Slaying the Greatest Show on Turf with a then-unknown and unproven Tom Brady and one of the biggest clutch kickers of all time in Adam Vinatieri in the 2002 Super Bowl should be a source of great pride. However, Belichick has turned his successes into a source of indignation towards anyone who questions his greatness. He doesn’t point to his ring, but instead Belichick turns his face into a disdainful grimace that shouts, how dare you question my wisdom? For that, Belichick will never be mistaken as jolly.
5. Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State Cowboys
Gundy is most known for his epic rant in defense of one of his players during a post-game press conference. The Oklahoma State coach is an irascible figure who is not beyond scolding the media. And he’s a man, he’s 40! Unlike others on this list who may use this tactic to deflect blame, Gundy attempted to put himself squarely in the sights of any criticism. Fair or not, the ranting Gundy has earned the label of angry coach thanks to this and many other moments of off the wall, irritable behavior towards the media.
4. Jim Harbaugh – San Francisco 49ers
Three consecutive appearances in the NFC title game and a Super Bowl appearance are reason enough for anybody to be grateful for their successes. However, that is not Harbaugh’s way of thinking. The scowling head coach of the San Francisco 49ers does not ever seem to be satisfied with resurrecting a once fallow franchise into one of the NFC’s premier teams the last three seasons. Neither does the front office either, apparently. With rumors swirling about whether or not Harbaugh is in a dispute with either his players or management, the coach’s future by the Bay seems to be continuously in doubt. With how much Harbaugh demands of his players, it is no wonder these rumors take hold very quickly. One cannot argue with the results, but Harbaugh’s intensity can have an adverse effect with professionals who are used to getting their way.
3. John Tortorella – Free Agent
Tortorella looks the part of a grizzled hockey coach who is not beyond berating everyone in his way. In hockey, much like football, aggression is inherent within the coaching approach. However, if you’re a raving lunatic without restraint, teams will gladly try a new approach and give the coach his walking papers. Tortorella, as opposed to Laviolette, does not have the same motivational power in his anger to turn a team around into a winner through this method. Having been fired by the Vancouver Canucks after only one season, Tortorella is watching from home this season, waiting to see if another team in need is willing to take a chance on his abrasive style of coaching.
2. Tom Coughlin – New York Giants
You would never know it by his mannerisms, but Coughlin is a two-time Super Bowl champion and potentially a Hall of Fame bound coach. Coughlin has always looked exasperated in his tenure as Giants head coach, acting continually appalled by refs and players alike. The classic Coughlin pose of hands planted on hips with a slack jawed expression is the coach’s standby look of defiance and disgruntled ire. Coughlin’s anger is not over the top, but comical. The grandfather of the NFL coaching community is grumpy, but not vein-poppingly intense. Still, for his histrionics, Coughlin has earned his place for an animated state of distress when the breaks don’t fall the G-Men’s way. It appears that Coughlin’s time in New York, if not his career, may be nearing an end, and so will Coughlin’s routine of working officials with his disapproving stance.
1. Rex Ryan – New York Jets
You would be angry too if you were saddled with the fate of going down with a sinking ship. Except in Ryan’s case, this doomed vessel, known as the New York Jets, routinely starts its descent into the briny deep before ever leaving the dock. After getting as far as the AFC title game in his first two seasons at the helm, Ryan’s Jets have been submerged in a growing sea of mediocrity ever since. Ryan has always been one to play to the media either through bold proclamations or verbal grenades lobbed across the bow of upcoming opponents. The tough times in the Big Apple have made Ryan an even bigger target, and as a result, more apt to spit fire in response to media barbs thrown his way. In what is surely his last season in New York, Ryan will depart as one of the most aggressive personalities to ever come through New York, or any other NFL city for that matter. Look for Ryan to grace your television screens as an analyst next fall; undoubtedly bringing his unique, grandiose personality with him.