Perhaps only the Pittsburgh Steelers, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Braves have truly learned the value of continuity. Every other pro sports franchise these days either can’t find the right guy to hire or doesn’t give that guy enough time and support to really turn things around.
With that volatility in mind, here’s some quick thoughts on various pro coaches, their futures and recent pasts:
Marty Schottenheimer– Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage, the current coach/GM combo for the Cleveland Browns are in a lot of hot water. One year after their breakthrough 10-6 campaign, the word is one or both of the two are likely goners. And who’s rumored to take over? None other than Marty Schottenheimer, who started his long and distinguished regular season career with the original Browns back in the ’80s.
Marty is a winner and has been everywhere he’s been, except for the playoffs. The Browns may have overachieved last year, but they do have talent. Wouldn’t it be something to see Marty Schottenheimer bring his career full circle by wrapping things up in Cleveland with the Super Bowl title he’s chased so long? Stranger things have happened!
Wade Phillips– He’s got to be done now, right? This past Sunday is a perfect example of Phillips’ head coaching legacy. Up ten with nine minutes to go and he lets Offensive Coordinator/HC in Waiting Jason Garrett start winding down the clock way too early. What should have been a huge road win and boon to Dallas’ playoff hopes ends up as another crushing defeat and Dallas will likely miss the playoffs.
Phillips is apparently a great defensive coordinator. And, if he wants to stay in the NFL, that’s what he’ll be next year. He’s finished running Jerry Jones’ squad.
Norv Turner – He’s Phillips’ flip side. Turner is a great offensive coordinator who just can’t get it done as a head coach. San Diego has way more talent than their record shows. With Turner at the helm that’s not a surprise. By now the league has caught on and neither Phillips or Turner will be a head coach anywhere other than in their current jobs.
Dick Jauron– After starting the season at 5-1, it’s all gone down hill for the Bills. Based on that strong start, Buffalo extended Jauron’s contract. What has Buffalo brass got to be thinking about that extension right now?
I never understood the urgency. But, maybe it’s cosmic payment for Jauron. After all, he did a decent job in Chicago and got bagged there kind of unfairly. (He got screwed over) So, this could be the way the football gods make it up to him and his family.
PJ Carlesimo– A great college coach, who loves the NBA lifestyle too much to return where he really belongs. Apparently, he’s a great NBA assistant and was very popular in that role in San Antonio. Somehow he loses his people skills when he gets that head coach title. Rule number one in the NBA is don’t alienate your franchise number one draft choice, especially when he’s going for 20 a night in his rookie year. PJ forgot that. And now the NBA will forget his name for future coaching openings.
Eddie Jordan– I can’t believe the Wizards were stupid enough to fire him. If I were a GM looking for my next NBA head coach, I’d have Jordan’s digits on speed dial. The guy has won in places that no one wins. As a player, he led Rutgers to a Final Four. As an assistant coach, many felt he deserved more credit than Byron Scott for the lowly NJ Nets fortunes turning earlier this millennium. Leaving Jersey for another perennial loser in DC, Jordan managed to regularly get the Wizards to the playoffs before being dismissed. Some day, Eddie Jordan will win an NBA title as a head coach. And that day will come before the Wizards franchise grabs its next title.
Kevin McHale– What a great player and what a horrible GM. His reign of terror in Minnesota goes on unabated. There’s no logical explanation for his lasting so long there even if he’s a massive b-ball icon in the state. It’s bordering on the ridiculousness of Elgin Baylor’s time with the Clips or Mike Millsbury’s time with the NHL’s Islanders.
Now, however, McHale may be close to done. Ownership fired the ‘Wolves head man and today word came out that McHale will be stepping down from his executive duties to take over as coach for the long term. Only McHale can save himself now.
Hmmmm….. That move didn’t work out too well for one Isiah Thomas. To be fair, McHale pulled this stunt once before and manged to go about 19-12. For the Timberwolves these days, that would be a HUGE improvement.
So what’s the take away?
Everyone finds their level in life and in sports. Great coordinators or assistants aren’t always great head coaches. As a GM, it’s your job to know the difference.
If you’re a GM and you’ve got an Eddie Jordan at the helm, then be patient. But, not so patient that he ends up turning into undeserving lifer like a Kevin McHale.