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Monday, October 13, 2003
The List: Coaches gone wild

By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

Don Zimmer's attempt to take on Pedro Martinez in the fourth inning of Saturday's Red Sox-Yankees game reminded us of other times when coaches have ... well, gone a little nutso.

Our list of the 10 most notorious incidents:

Woody Hayes
A calmer day for Woody Hayes.
1. Woody Hayes slugs opposition linebacker, then his own guard
Dec. 29, 1978. Ohio State is up against Clemson in the Gator Bowl with two minutes left. Ohio State's freshman QB Art Schlichter was having a great game -- he'd completed 16 of 20 passes for 205 yards. He'd rushed for two touchdowns. The Buckeyes trailed 17-15, but Schlichter had the Buckeyes on the march. But Clemson middle linebacker Charlie Bauman picked off a Schlichter pass, foiling their final drive.

Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, 65, got so angry that he grabbed Bauman as the Tigers linebacker ran out of bounds near the OSU bench, then slugged him. He also hit Ken Fritz, a Buckeyes guard who was trying to restrain his coach.

The university fired Hayes after the incident. But the coach insisted he hadn't tried to punch Bauman. "If I'd meant to hit him, I would have thrown a left," said Hayes, a left-hander.

Weeks after the incident, Bauman got a call from the ex-coach. "He didn't apologize," Bauman said. "I was astounded by the call. He asked what defense we were in at the time and what I was doing there. A lot of people say he doesn't apologize for his actions, that it's just not in his makeup, that he's too proud."

2. Lee Elia to Cubs fans: "Go and get a (expletive) job"
April 29, 1983. The Cubs had just lost a close game to the Dodgers at home, dropping their record to 5-14. Manager Elia, after the game, let loose on the 9,391 Cubs fans who booed his ballclub that day. "They oughta go and get a (expletive) job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a (expletive) living. Eight-five percent of the (expletive) world is working. The other 15 percent come out here. A (expletive) playground for the (expletive) ... I hope we get (expletive) hotter than (expletive), just to stuff it up them 3,000 (expletive) people that show up every (expletive) day. Because if they're the real Chicago (expletive) fans, they can kiss my (expletive) ass right downtown."

3. Bob Knight throws chair
Feb. 23, 1985. Indiana, in the middle of a mediocre season, played Purdue in a Big Ten matchup. After just four minutes of play, Knight started getting angry when officials called a foul on Steve Alford. A minute or so later, he got miffed again when Marty Simmons got called for a foul. When Purdue went to inbound the ball after that call, another foul was called on Indiana's Daryl Thomas.

Bob Knight
At least he never choked a player. Oh wait ...
Knight cursed an official. Technical No. 1. Then he threw a folding chair across the court. Technical No. 2. He kept arguing with the refs and was ejected. Technical No. 3.

Lots of technicals, but it was the chair-throwing that folks remembered. "It's not something that we were really expecting to happen," said Thomas after the game. "But then again, we really don't know what to expect." Knight apologized the next day, but still got a one-game suspension from the Big Ten.

4. Lloyd McClendon steals first
June 26, 2001. The Pirates trailed first-place Chicago by 17½ games and were 20 games below .500. Manager Lloyd McClendon, who'd taken the downs and downs with cool, finally reached the end of his rope. When an ump called Jason Kendall out on a close call at first, McClendon argued and got tossed. He then pulled the base from the dirt, and carried it back to the dugout.

The Pirates won 7-6 in 12 innings. The next day, the players decided to prominently display the base in the clubhouse.

5. Buddy Ryan slugs Kevin Gilbride
Jan. 2. 1994. There'd been a long feud simmering between Oilers defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. For example, Ryan repeatedly derided Gilbride's "run-and-shoot" offense, calling it "chuck-and-duck." The two hadn't spoken to each other for a long time; and finally, the bad feelings boiled over into violence.

The Oilers, on an 11-game winning streak and headed for the playoffs, faced the Jets. They'd eventually win, 24-0; but what got things going was a play just before halftime when the Jets sacked Houston QB Cody Carlson, who fumbled. Ryan, angry at the play-call, punched Gilbride in the jaw.

Ryan explained himself later: "It's a difference in coaching philosophy in the heat of the battle."

Broncos coach Wade Phillips, who had worked for Ryan in Philadelphia, saw the punch on TV and said it didn't surprise him. "He has slugged people on the sideline before,'' Phillips said . "Assistant coaches who were next to him got it. I was always up in the press box with the headset on, so I didn't."

Said Gilbride the next day, "It's a daily, ongoing thing. The comments, the sarcasm, the denigrating and disparaging remarks toward the offense. We try to just survive it. That's what we're going to do. My best way of handling it is to try to stay far away from the guy and try not to respond to his incessant remarks and just stay focused on who I thought the opponent was -- the teams we play week to week."

6. Lou Piniella throws first base
Lou Piniella
Lou Piniella has the Devil Rays headed in the right direction.
Aug. 21, 1990. Riverfront Stadium. Dutch Rennert called Barry Larkin out at first at the end of the fifth inning. Reds manager Lou Piniella comes out to argue the call. He throws his hat down. Rennert ejects him on the spot. But wait, there's more. Piniella pulls up first base and throws it, and, dissatisfied with his first toss, picks it up and hurls it again, sending it flying and rolling all the way into short right.

"I just saw it (the base) laying next to my feet," Piniella said after the game. "That just happened. You come in here and say to yourself, 'What the hell is a 47-year-old man doing that for?' I don't know. It's frustration. The bag was lying there, and I grabbed it. Dutch Rennert is a fine umpire, and I didn't want to show him up. I'll talk to him tomorrow before the game."

His team got a kick out of it. "Comical," said outfielder Glenn Braggs. "Best base throw I ever saw," added pitcher Rick Mahler.

7. Fairfield coach tackles opposing player
November 1978. Fairfield (Connecticut) University led Western New England College 15-14 in the third quarter. Western New England's Jim Brown, returning a kickoff, had eluded every Fairfield defender and appeared to be on his way to a touchdown. Then, Fairfield coach Ed Hall ran out and tackled Brown at midfield. "Are you out of your mind, coach?" said Brown. "I guess I am," said Hall.

Hall, then 48, had played running back and defensive back for the University of Bridgeport in his prime, about two decades earlier. Brown was credited with an 84-yard TD run. The ref tossed Hall from the game.

"Something just happened to me," said Hall, "and the next thing I knew, the referee was standing over me and screaming at me to get out of the game. As I started walking to the rear of the bleachers, with the crowd booing me, I broke down and cried."

Even weeks later, Hall couldn't explain what happened. "I've been coaching for 22 years, and there have been many instances where opposing players have run right in front of me. But I never had a strong impulse to tackle them."

8. John Chaney threatens John Calipari
Feb. 13, 1994. After Calipari's 13th-ranked UMass team beat No. 8 Temple 56-55 in Amherst, Temple coach Chaney broke into a postgame press conference being held by Calipari.

"I'll kill your (expletive) ass. You remember that," Chaney screamed at Calipari. "I'll kick your ass. Kick your ass."

Then Chaney, saying that Calipari had intimidated the refs, started toward the UMass coach at the lectern across the room. Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald described the scene: "With at least one camera rolling and dozens of reporters looking on, Temple coach John Chaney charged Calipari and nearly assaulted him. (Mike) Williams got in the way and Chaney shoved the UMass junior toward Calipari, who was wisely backing up, stunned and amazed. Security guards sprinted into the interview room from all directions while Chaney continued to berate Calipari and thoroughly embarrass himself."

Chaney apologized after the incident, and was suspended for one game.

9. Jeff Van Gundy, "human hammock"
Alonzo Mourning, Jeff Van Gundy
Does Jeff Van Gundy look like a fool? You be the judge.
April 30, 1998. With 1.4 seconds left in Game 4 of the Knicks-Heat playoff series and the Knicks leading 90-85, Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson started scuffling. New York coach Jeff Van Gundy moved in to break it up, but the best he could do was grab onto Mourning's leg. Van Gundy was dragged all over the court, almost helpless. "At one point, he actually was lifted off the ground and held horizontally by the arms and legs, looking like a human hammock," wrote Newsday's Barbara Barker.

Van Gundy got kicked a few times and stepped on, and admitted the next day that he knew he "looked like a fool." But, he said, "I don't regret going out there. I was trying to protect my player. Whether it was appropriate or not, I'll let everybody else judge.''

Even after the 5-foot-6 coach took a bruising from the 6-10 center, he had unkind words ''He's always whining about the contact he takes," Van Gundy said, ''but you never hear about the contact he dishes out. If you're going to bang and bump, bang and bump like a man and quit whining about it.''

10. Jim Mora sees the writing
Nov. 25, 2001. The Colts lost their third game in a row, going down 40-21 to the 49ers in Indianapolis. The Colts had held the ball nearly twice as long as the Niners, but turnovers killed them -- Peyton Manning threw four INTs and Dominic Rhodes fumbled, and the 49ers converted those miscues into 24 points.

The Colts dropped to 4-6, and after the game Mora lost it. In the locker room, he told his players, "Let me start out saying this: Do NOT blame that game on the defense, OK? I don't care who you play, whether it's a high school team, a junior college team, a college team, much less an NFL team, when you turn the ball over five times ... you ain't gonna beat anybody. That was a disgraceful performance ... We gave it away. We gave them the frigging game. In my opinion, that sucked.

"You can't turn it over five times. Holy crap. I don't know who the hell we think we are when we do something like that ... We've thrown (five) interceptions returned for touchdowns. That might be a league record. And we've still got six games left, so there's no telling how many we'll have.

"I mean, it's absolutely pitiful to play like that. ... Horrible. Just horrible. Horrible."

He added, to the press: "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs?" he said. "I just hope we can win a game, another game."

In fact, the Colts won two other games, finishing the season 6-10. But that wasn't good enough to save Mora's job. He was fired after the season ended.

Also receiving votes:
  • Nolan Richardson's 2002 outburst
  • Bob Knight's "game face" press conference
  • Jim Mora's "diddly-poo" tirade in New Orleans