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Top 10 Coaching Feuds

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Top 10 Coaching Feuds

Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports Images


Athletes, by their nature, are extremely competitive people. Every time they compete, their pride is on the line so it’s not really surprising that close games tempers can quickly get out of hand and violence can break out. These are young guys, and sometimes girls, in their twenties with a lot of testosterone (hopefully, not the gals). so asking them to maintain some perspective (i.e. that it’s only a game) isn’t always the easiest point to get across. But there are people who should know better. I’m, of course, talking about the coaches.

Coaches are supposed to be the adults. They’re well dressed, they’re expected to set an example in terms of decorum and behavior, but it’s so much fun when they don’t. There’s just something special about two people in their forties, or older, that haven’t been in a fight in years talking smack to each other. Coaching feuds show us you’re never too old to be immature and that some people just don’t get it. Here’s ten of our favorite ones.

10. John Calipari Vs. Everyone

Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images

Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images

Okay, so maybe not everyone, just Rollie Massimino, Bobby Knight, Lute Olsen, Jim Reid, Lou Carnesecca, etc. There’s just something about John Calipari that rubs people the wrong way. Is it his look, his hair, his arrogance? It’s all three and then some. It’s not fair to blame him for all his 1-and-dones, because he didn’t come up with that system, he’s just been really good at exploiting it. He is also the only coach ever to have two Final Four appearances vacated at two different schools. Classy.

Cal’s fight with Massimino involved recruiting. Bobby Martin committed to play for Villanova but was wooed hard by Calipari who was coaching Pitt. Martin blamed his change of heart on a misunderstanding with the Villanova coaching staff. The best part was that Martin’s announcement that he was switching occurred hours before the two schools were to play each other. The coaching staffs almost brawled or as Calipari put it, “That was a war that turned ugly.”

The feud with Coach Jim Reid was unique because both men were coaching at UMass with Reid coaching football. Reid was the one who came up with the slogan, “refuse to lose” but it was Calipari who had it copyrighted and sold it for six figures. Ouch.

With Lou Carnesecca, Calipari allegedly told a blue chip recruit not to attend St. John’s because Coach Carnesecca was dying from cancer. Calipari has denied saying it but just the fact that people believed it was plausible speaks volumes.

9. Bill Belichick Vs. Eric Mangini

Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini

This one’s kind of sad because these two used to be good friends. Well, more like mentor and mentee. Both men are graduates of Wesleynan University and when Mangini showed up at the Brown’s training camp as a ball boy, Coach Belichick decided to take Mangini under his wing and makes him a special assistant. Belichick even took Mangini with him to coach under Bill Parcells with the Jets. Yes, there was a time when coaching the Jets was a big deal.

Things changed when Mangini was coaching the Jets and Belichick, the Patriots, and as divisional rivals, they would play each other at least twice a year. The Patriots were accused of illegally video taping the Jets defensive signals during the game, a big no no. Mangini informed the league and thus, the scandal known as “Spy Gate” was born.

Roger Goodell severely fined and punished the Patriots which pissed off Belichick. Since then, relations between the two men could best be described as frosty. Whenever the Patriots played a Mangini team, Belichick limply shaked Magini’s hand at the conclusion of the games. Then again, maybe it’s just Belichick being Belichick, who’s not exactly known as Mr. Warmth.

8. Jose Mourinho Vs. Arsene Wenger

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Our first soccer entry. Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea and Wenger the manager of Arsenal have been sniping at each other since 2005. Mourinho feels that Arsenal has an undeserved reputation for being “angels” while his team is viewed as “the devil.” From there, it expanded to actual dislike with Mourinho saying, “Maybe Wenger should explain to Arsenal fans how he cannot win a single little trophy since 2005.” Wenger, of Mourinho, “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality…When you give success to stupid people it makes them more stupid…” Mourinho, “He’s a specialist in failure.”

Trust us when we say we could write thousands of words comprised of quotes of these two guys sniping away at each other. If the saying, “it’s a thin line between love and hate” is true then maybe these two should just get a room together.

7. Rick Bennett Vs. Seth Appert (2014)

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Did you know that fighting isn’t allowed in college hockey? Coaches Rick Bennett of Union College and Seth Appert of RPI didn’t. There was one second left with a final face-off. Once the puck was dropped both teams went a little nuts. It would take forever to explain why both teams wanted to beat the crap out of each other, but suffice it to say the schools have a long standing rivalry, so everything gets magnified.

After the benches emptied, Coach Bennett tried to get at Coach Appert and managed to land a few slaps before the two leaders of men were separated by officials. At the post game presser, both coaches apologized and expressed regret over the incident. Boo!

6. Lou Albano vs. Freddie Blassie

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Okay, while technically these two aren’t coaches, they’re managers but the job is the same; guiding their athletes to the championship.

The year was 1985 and “Classy” Freddie Blassie and “Captain” Lou Albano both desperately wanted to be named WWE Manager of the Year. In the past, these two gurus worked together to get The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff the tag team belts. It turned ugly when Blassie hit Lou Albano over the head with his cane while Lou was doing color commentary. This was the last straw for their shaky alliance and the two vowed to settle their difference in the ring. It wasn’t exactly Ali/Frazier but more like two old guys pawing at each other for five dreadful minutes. Both men are now deceased and undoubtedly giving God a major headache.

5. Geno Auriemma vs. Muffet McGraw

Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

Feuds don’t often occur in woman’s basketball but when they do, it’s a doozy. Okay, not really because it’s mostly one sided. Muffett hates Geno but Geno seemingly could care less about Muffett. (The preceding is a sentence I never thought I’d write). Geno’s undefeated UConn team met McGraw’s undefeated Notre Dame team in the 2014 NCAA Championship game. McGraw was under the impression that Geno didn’t respect her or her program. Geno feigned ignorance.

McGraw was asked if she hated Auriemma and she replied, “that’s a fair assumption.” She also said that UConn gets every call. If she was saying this to psyche up her team, it didn’t work. UConn beat Notre Dame 79 to 58 which is better then any insult Geno could throw at Muffin.

4. Dick Williams Vs. Joe Torre

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On August 12th, 1984, Dick Williams San Diego Padres were playing Joe Torre‘s Atlanta Braves. The Padres were well on their way to a pennant and the Braves to an 80 and 82 season. The previous night, the Padres Alan Wiggins bunted for two hits and the Braves felt they were being shown up. So the next day, Pascual Perez (Braves) hit Wiggins in the back. There was no way Dick Williams was gonna let this stand, so he announced to his dugout, “We knew what we have to do” which meant Ed Whitson thew at Perez but Perez kept getting out of the way.

At this point, the umpire warned both teams to knock it off. On the next pitch, Whitson tried to hit Perez and again, he missed. Williams was thrown out of the game but not before saying again, “we know what we’ve got to do.” It wasn’t until the eight inning when Craig Lefferts finally hit Perez. At that point, it should’ve been over because both teams had one batter hit by a pitch. For some reason, in the 9th, Torre ordered Donnie Moore to hit Graig Nettles. From there, both benches were emptied and it was an all out brawl. Even Dick Williams son, who was sitting in the stands, joined in.

After the game, Torre called Dick Williams “an idiot” and Williams told Torre where he could stick the finger he was pointing. For some reason, Williams was suspended for ten days and Torre only three. But at least something exciting actually happened during a San Diego Padres game.

3. John Tortorella Vs. Bob Hartley (2014)

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Tortorella, head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, was incensed that Bob Hartley, coach of the Calgary Flames sent all his brawlers out for opening faceoff. Tortorella responded in kind. The result? Five separate fights in the opening seconds.

When the period was finally over, Tortorella did the only logical think he could think of: he tried to enter the Flames locker room. Good thinking. Did he think he was going to get a warm reception from the opposition in the name of good sportsmanship? Luckily, for him, Tortorella wasn’t able to enter the Flames locker room despite almost starting a fight with Calgary’s coaches. In the end, Tortorella was suspended for six games and Hartley was fined $25,000 for instigating the fights. Neither coach apologized afterwards.

2. Ozzie Guillen Vs. Buck Showalter (2004)

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Buck Showalter is known for being meticulous in his game preparation. That coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of the rule book makes him a very good manager. The man is so calm in his demeanor that he’s been pronounced clinically dead twice but it turns out he was just deep in thought. Then there’s Ozzie. “Calm” and “meticulous” or not words one thinks of when thinking of Ozzie Guillen. Oz is more of a seat of the pants type manager who can be pretty sensitive.

In September, when the Rangers were playing the White Sox, minor league coach John Wetteland was coaching first base. Guillen thought it might be a rules violation. During the post-game interviews, Ozzie infers that Showalter doesn’t think he knows the rules. This caused Ozzie to say, “Showalter never even smelled a jock in the big leagues…Mr. Baseball never even got a hit in Triple-A. I was a better player then him, I have more money then him and I’m better looking then him.” Guillen was a better player then Showalter, we can’t verify who has more money and, well, looks are subjective. However, Showalter was right in the end.

1. Bryan Wells Vs. Rick Seiling (1997)

It doesn’t matter that you probably haven’t heard of either man or that it’s minor league hockey (Wichita vs. Tulsa), this has to be number one. Why? Because, unlike the other entrants, where two coaches attack each other verbally or shove each other before it’s broken up, these guys actually fight each other. Punches are thrown between the two coaches and it’s pretty awesome. Enjoy!

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