In today’s media-saturated sporting world, coaches or managers of sports teams, whether at the college or professional level, are as much ambassadors of their teams to the public as they are tacticians, motivators and man managers. Placed in front of cameras on a regular basis, and without specific training or specialization in media relations, coaches and managers have ranged in their media responses from monotonous to deathly serious to raging anger. In some rare instances, however, comfort can grow to the point where humor becomes a part of a coach’s dealings with the media. While based out of rage or frustration, with either the media or their own players, in some instances, some truly enjoy their time with the media and the opportunity to trade witty remarks. A select few even possess the shrewdness to use humor with the media to distract from their team’s poor play or deflate tension from particularly tense moments.
Sorting through the top 10 funny quotes by coaches or managers is no easy task, and undoubtedly the type of list that another writer could produce with ten entirely different quotes. Researching for this list produced a number of truly great discoveries, some of which may be well-worn favorites while others become a new source of hilarity. Whatever your sense of humor, preferred sport or knowledge of the topic, I hope there is something in this article for everyone that can make them laugh and make their day a little better.
10 Bill Parcells – “"If I'm going to be asked to cook the meal, I'd like to be able to pick the groceries.”
One of the more colorful personalities to have ever graced the NFL sidelines, Parcells was never one to mince words during his coaching career. The quote originated from his second of four head coaching positions, with the New England Patriots, whom he coached from 1993-1996. Parcells was successful in New England, guiding them to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI, which they lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21, but eventually left the team after being blocked from major personnel decisions by team owner Robert Kraft. After his departure, Parcells used groceries as a metaphor to express his unhappiness with Patriots management and his own role within the team’s hierarchy. With equal parts witty forethought and built-up frustration, the quote encapsulates Parcells’ intelligence and desire for control, while also providing a laugh.
9 Bill Callahan – “We’ve got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game...”
Bill Callahan has served as an offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for many college and NFL teams, including the Dallas Cowboys presently, but only got one head coaching tenure in the NFL, leading the Oakland Raiders for two seasons in 2002 and 2003. While he led the team to Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002, the team lost the game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-21. In his second year, an aging roster and injuries to quarterback Rich Gannon, who had helped the team finish first in passing offense the previous year, resulted in a 4-12 record and Callahan’s firing by former team owner Al Davis. Callahan attempted to remake the team that year to replace veterans with younger talent, but was not given the time to do so and had several of his well-known veterans, like defensive back Charles Woodson and wide receiver Tim Brown, publicly criticize him in the media and reportedly even try to mutiny against him.
Sick of his team, both on and off the field, Callahan let loose with the quote after a 22-8 loss against the Denver Broncos on November 30th, 2003. Callahan’s anger shines through the bluntness of his quote, and marks a rare moment of candor for a coach who has not been given the opportunity to lead a team since. It is worth noting, however, that Callahan is still the last coach to lead the Raiders to a winning record, so Callahan’s failure in 2003 needs to be put in perspective alongside the similar inability of other coaches to do any better for the past decade.
8 Sam Mitchell – “Zero, zero, zero, zero...”
After a playing career in both Europe and the NBA, Sam Mitchell transitioned to a coaching career, and eventually became the head coach of the Toronto Raptors in 2004. Mitchell, who remained the coach there until being fired in 2008, is still the longest-serving coach in the team’s history, has more wins than any other coach in franchise history, and was the first Raptors coach to win a division title in 2006-2007. Mitchell also won the Coach of the Year Award in 2007 for his accomplishment. His successes, however, are sometimes overshadowed by the impressive batch of quotes he was able to provide to the media. Mitchell, in fact, proved so media savvy that he is now on the other side of the situation, serving as a basketball analyst for TSN in Canada.
In his most famous remark, he blasted his team’s depth and inability to produce from the bench, declaring that when he looked back at some of their stats sheets, all he saw was “zero, zero, zero.” An eloquent, expressive and hilarious way to explain his dissatisfaction, Mitchell’s quote remains as much a legacy of his tenure as his success and a lasting testament to his on-camera ability.
7 Bobby Knight – “My entire adult life, I’ve never used the expression game face. I have no **** idea what that means or what you’re supposed to do.”
Bobby Knight won three NCAA Championships, an NIT Championship, eleven Big 10 Conference Championships and four National Coach of the Year honors. He also won a gold medal from coaching the US basketball team at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, a team that included future superstars Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. Despite these accomplishments, Knight may be best remembered by some for struggling with anger issues throughout most of his career, spent between Indiana and Texas Tech. Screaming at players, throwing chairs and haranguing reporters were all as much a part of Knight’s career as winning. In this quote, however, Knight expresses his frustration with humor, using his angry reputation to make his funny faces even funnier. Expressing annoyance with the media was typical Knight, but this example stands out as his funnies moment.
6 Kevin Borseth – “That’s how I feel!”
Though now coaching at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Borseth coached the women’s basketball team at the University of Michigan from 2007-2012. After one particularly tough loss, Borseth slams his papers, down on the podium, angrily tells reporters “That’s how I feel!” and proceeds to give the media a rant lasting about two and a half minutes detailing his team’s inability to win offensive rebounds and how they cost his team the game. Considering his anger, Borseth actually provides some surprisingly in-depth insights into the game, but provides plenty of other entertaining soundbites throughout its duration. While I feel bad for the plight of Borseth and his team, it’s impossible not to be entertained by his heightened emotional state or to find it funny.
5 Jose Mourinho – “Please don’t call me arrogant because what I’m saying is true. I’m European champion...I think I am a special one.”
The above quote sums up Mourinho better than any lengthy essay ever could. He has won seven domestic league titles and two Champions League titles in four different countries, as well as a UEFA Cup and various domestic cups. After winning the Portuguese Primera Liga twice, the Taca de Portugal (the main Portuguese domestic trophy), the UEFA Cup and the Champions League in a two-year stretch with Porto, Mourinho moved to manage Chelsea in England in 2004. Delivering his famous quote in his introductory press conference for the team, Mourinho clearly established his successes and his self-belief. While he has polarized many in the soccer/football world with his defensive tactics, desire to move from team to team on a frequent basis and arrogant demeanor (despite his requests for people not to view him that way), he has remained consistently successful and popular throughout his career.
Since the 2004 press conference, Mourinho has been labelled the “Special One” by both his fans and his detractors in equal measure, proving to be a lasting figure of controversy in the sport. On a more humorous note, however, BBC and the former Setanta Sports created a satirical puppet program called Special One TV, in which puppet versions of Mourinho and several other prominent figures in the game would discuss reader e-mails, news stories and answer fake phone calls, while ending each episode with Mourinho’s declaration to viewers to “Be Champions.” The episodes are now available on Youtube. The “Special One” quote has therefore not only provided laughs, but also a lasting legacy in a number of ways.
4 Larry Brown – "He said 'practice' more times than he's actually practiced"
While Allen Iverson’s infamous “practice” rant has outlived his career, former Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown’s dismissive, well-thought and biting quote is, in my opinion, the highlight of that particular episode in basketball history. Part of the humor comes from the contrast between Iverson’s long, rambling, sometimes incoherent rant and the succinct nature of Brown’s response. The rapidity of his response demonstrates Brown’s wit and intelligence as well. Most of all, however, is Brown’s clear frustration with his player and the ease with which Iverson could solve the situation.
Brown is correct in asserting that Iverson’s practice attendance, not his media tirade, was the problem, and that instead of complaining about it with words, he had many opportunities to respond with his actions and actually show up to practice on time on a consistent basis. While Iverson’s love for the game was never in question, Brown’s practicality and quick comeback make the quote one of the funniest responses of all time, and a quote which deserves to be remembered in the same way as Iverson’s iconic speech.
3 Sir Alex Ferguson – "It's getting tickly now – squeaky-bum time, I call it."
Famous for his mind games with both rival managers and referees, and his intensity both on and off the pitch, the long-time Manchester United manager, serving from 1986 until his retirement in 2013, also possessed an impeccable sense of humor. One could create a top 10 list entirely of quotes from his extraordinary and wildly successful career, but this one will stand the test of time for its silliness, cheek and quite accurate description of tense games late in the season for fans. Ferguson coined the term “squeaky bum time” to describe how fans, as well as himself, would sit on the edge of their seat during tense games late in the season as the English Premier League title was being contested, sometimes making squeaking noises as they shifted on the plastic seats in anxiety, excitement and a mix of other emotions.
The term has lasted the test of time, and is still used with some frequency today to describe the final part of the season, if only in a joking and fun way, by football players, pundits and fans. The quote’s funny but apt description of a feeling many fans can relate to, and contrast with some of the rest of Ferguson’s notable quotes, makes it one of the funniest of all time.
2 John McKay - response to the question “What do you think of your team’s execution?” – “I’m all for it” or “I’m in favor of it.”
Though it is difficult to find the exact wording of the quote, there is no question that some point during the 1976 NFL season, while coaching the abysmal Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 0-14 record during their first season of existence, McKay (seen left in above picture) uttered some variation on this quote. Like Sir Alex Ferguson, McKay was a one-man quote machine, turning out more funny quotes in that one season than most coaches do in an entire career. After a successful coaching career with USC from 1960-1975, that included four Rose Bowl victories, such ineptitude from his expansion team clearly frustrated McKay on a deep level, and he remained unafraid to express his feelings to the media. The bluntness of his response, combined with his rapid-fire sense of humor and play on words, make this quote a legendary and hilarious one that has thankfully lasted far longer than Tampa Bay’s notorious Creamsicle orange jerseys in that era.
1 David Bennett, “You need to be more like a dog, we don’t need a bunch of cats in here – meow, looking in the mirror...”
This quote needs to be seen to be believed. In his rant, Bennett, who coached the Coastal Carolina football team from 2001-2011, uses the analogy of cats and dogs to try to convince his team to be less vain about their appearance and spend more time focusing on their on-field play, but uses an unusual personal story about a cat breaking into his house to do so. The ludicrous nature of his comparison, his use of over-the-top antics to stop his players from being over-the-top in preparing their appearances for the game, and his intensity and animated delivery make this, at least in my opinion, the funniest sports coach quote of all-time.