Odd Coaching Fits (Part II)

Last night, I offered the first installment of a two-part series on odd fits between coaches and programs.  That posting generated some interest, as demonstrated by the comments that followed and separate references at Burnt Orange Nation, Georgia Sports Blog, and Every Day Should Be Saturday, all of which I appreciated.  

Evidently, Orson thinks writing Dawg Sports bears some resemblance to this.

As promised, there is a sequel, which includes three coaches who were odd fits everywhere they went and one school that was a strange home to multiple field generals.  These are they:  

Dennis Franchione at New Mexico, Texas Christian, Alabama, and Texas A&M---The Cactus State is a rugged land that most of us associate with scorching heat, gila monsters, and Old West outlaws.  The Lone Star State and the Yellowhammer State take their football pretty seriously and will abide no sissification on the gridiron.  How, then, did state universities in these rough and tumble locales come to entrust their football programs to a guy who sounds like Mr. Rogers and shares a nickname with a nanny played by Fran Drescher?  I could see this snake oil salesman at Duke or Tulane or Temple, but the idea that major Southern schools would hand Dennis Franchione the keys is inconceivable to me.  

John Mackovic at Illinois, Texas, and Arizona---He seemed a little too intense for Champaign-Urbana, a little too prissy for Austin, and a little too psychotic for Tucson.  His checkered record was defined by descents from lofty heights:  Mackovic went 22-8-1 in his first 31 games with the Fighting Illini before stumbling to an 8-9 finish in his last 17 contests at Illinois and, after winning the last Southwest Conference championship in 1995 and the first Big 12 title in 1996, his Longhorn squads lost eight of his last dozen outings, including a stunning 66-3 shellacking by U.C.L.A. at home.  The wheels completely came off when the Wildcats revolted against his heavy-handed tactics and Mackovic resigned five weeks into the 2003 campaign after losing 11 of his last 13 games on the Arizona sideline.  The debacle in the desert gave us a glimpse of what Bear Bryant's "Junction Boys" would have been like if Texas A&M had kept going 1-9 every year.  Mackovic coached three very different programs and never seemed like a good fit for any of them.  

John "Old Yellow Stain" Mackovic, shown here before his coaching career concluded with his departure from Tucson, rolling ball bearings around in his palm while gibbering incoherently about strawberries.

Rick Neuheisel at Colorado and Washington---He is sufficiently cutthroat to be a recruiting coordinator in the S.E.C.  His Hawaiian-shirts-and-sandals hippified casualness would seem suited to a coaching job with, say, the Oregon Ducks.  How, though, did this charlatan manage not only to weasel his way into succeeding Bill McCartney in Boulder, but also, after losing 10 of his last 17 conference games with the Buffaloes, to parlay his Colorado tailspin into the head coaching position in Seattle?  The respective hometowns of the Universities of Colorado and Washington may have their own quirks, but neither city at its most zany would make a suitable fit for as bizarre a bird as Neuheisel.  

Any national championship-winning coach at South Carolina---Paul Dietzel went 35-7-1 in his last four seasons on the Bayou, including an undefeated season in 1958 that gave L.S.U. the No. 1 ranking in the final polls . . . then he went 42-53-1 in Columbia, where he never won a bowl game.  Lou Holtz won 100 games in South Bend and guided Notre Dame to the 1988 national title . . . then he went 33-37 in six seasons with the Gamecocks, only two of which culminated in postseason play.  Steve Spurrier put Florida football on the map and led the Gators to the country's best ranking in 1996 . . . then he was hailed as a miracle worker for leading South Carolina to a record worse than that posted by two of the Evil Genius's three Duke teams in the late 1980s.  When will successful coaches learn that Columbia, S.C., despite being a tough place for visiting teams to play, is not where anyone with a winning record would want to go to conclude his career?  

No, he's not going to win you an S.E.C. championship.  Deal with it.

Those are my thoughts on the most bizarre marriages between coaches and their schools.  Are there any good examples that I missed?  

Go 'Dawgs!

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