Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Best/Worst DFW Coaching Hires

My Top 5/Bottom 5 lists are a DFW radio staple, and can be quite controversial. Today, on The Ticket, I presented my best and worst head coaching hires in Metroplex history. In case you missed it, here it is again, but this time in print form, so that you can see it with your own eyeballs:

Top 5

1. Tom Landry: Built the Cowboys from expansion team into America’s team. A pretty good hire by Clint Murchison back in 1960--Landry stayed on the job for 29 years, an NFL record for one stop, 20 straight winning seasons, an NFL record, 5 Super Bowl appearances, and 2 titles. That, friends, is the best hire in DFW coaching history.

2. Jimmy Johnson: Built a team from scratch into back-to-back Super Bowl champs. Picked the players, and coached them--and was near-perfect at both. Master builder and motivator, and really, responsible for 3 Super Bowl wins.

3. Rick Carlisle: Don Nelson was too offensively minded, Avery Johnson too defensively minded, Carlisle was just right. Maybe the best ever in this area for getting the most out of the least. One magical title delivered to the long-suffering Mavs fans.

4. Ken Hitchcock: The perfect follow-up hire to Bob Gainey. Intense, demanding coach. His players responded, and won the Stanley Cup. Also created the Ticket's Charity Challenge on Ice, perhaps his greatest accomplishment.

5. Gary Patterson: People wondered what life after Coach Fran would be like, and it’s been pretty good. 14 seasons for Patterson, a 120-44 record, a 7-5 bowl record, and a Rose Bowl win. At TCU.

Bottom 5

1. Quinn Buckner: No coaching experience at any level when chosen by the Mavs in '92. Hired from the broadcast booth. Went 13-69, the worst record in the NBA during the 92-93 season, and the worst record ever for a rookie head coach who lasted the full campaign. He was fired two days after the final game of the year.

2. Eddie Stanky: Hired by the Rangers in 1977 during the season after Texas fired Frank Luchessi. Stanky managed one game, a 10-8 win over the Twins, then, 18 hours after he took the job, he quit. He told Rangers VP Eddie Robinson that he was resigning because he was homesick and wanted to go back to Alabama. Robinson’s response was “you’ve got to be kidding me.” Not a great hire when you can't even get your new coach to stay on the job for 24 hours.

3. Todd Dodge: Attempting to make the huge leap from high school coach to Division One college head coach, he went 6-37 in 3 1/2 seasons. Only six coaches in the 150 year history of college football have won fewer games in their first 3 1/2 seasons. 2-10 was his BEST season.

4. Dave Campo. Not sure if it was all his fault, but three straight 5-11 seasons marks the darkest chapter in Cowboys history. A great defensive assistant, he never looked at ease as a head coach--highlighted by the time he took the team to Sea World during training camp in San Antonio, where he appeared to be the only one interested in the whales.

5. (tie) Tim Somerville and Vic Trilli: Both with .180 winning percentages during their times at TCU and North Texas, tied for the worst college hoops coaching stints in DFW history. Hired as the head basketball coach of the Horned Frogs in 1972, Somerville lasted just two seasons and went 10-43, turning in his letter of resignation immediately following his final game in 1974. Trilli somehow lasted four seasons in Denton, but went 20-87--his best year was 7-20. The Trilli low point was a 132-57 loss to Maryland--the 75 point loss was the largest margin of defeat in a game featuring two Division One teams in NCAA history.

After I presented this list in a very professional fashion on the show, I heard from a lot of listeners who wondered why Ron Washington didn't make my Top 5. It's my belief that the coaches in my Top 5 were either a big or the biggest reason why their teams won championships. In other words, I don't see the Cowboys producing 20 straight winning seasons without Landry, or another coach doing what Jimmy did, or any coach this side of Popovich winning a title with the Mavs in 2011, etc. However, I think the Rangers would have won those AL pennants with any number of managers at the helm. I don't think Wash sucks, but I also don't think he's a dominant factor in the Rangers success of the past few seasons. Plus, he hasn't won a championship, and there are many that hold him responsible (I don't, necessarily) for questionable managerial moves in the postseason, especially in the 2011 World Series.

And that's the way I see it. Keep in mind, I'm supplying this sports talk content free of charge, so take it for what it's worth.


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  2. If championships weren't such a determining factor in your list, then I would say Don Nelson should be above Carlisle for a few reasons. The Mavericks were possibly the worst franchise in all of sports when he arrived. I know Cuban will get much credit because Nelson didn't succeed until he arrived. But let me remind you that without Don Nelson we would not have Donnie, we would not have Dirk and Nash, and ultimately without Dirk, we don't have a championship. Nelson made the Mavs relevant again.
    Also, some honorable mention to Dick Motta who helped build a new franchise into a perennial playoff contender and what many considered to be a model franchise. Of course, Roy Tarpley shot that all to hell.
    On another note, maybe in a couple years Larry Brown might make this list.
    Finally, I'm glad to see you didn't let your Sooner bias put Barry in this list. After all, he was one of 500 coaches who would have won that last Super Bowl.

  3. Hi Junior Professor Craig, As I watched some college basketball the other day, I noticed some spare bench player, after a teammate made a clutch basket, holding his teammates back from moving away from the bench toward the court. Ya know, the bench player, holds both arms out while his benchmates going seemingly crazy, etc. My question to you is when you and georgie and gordo say something funny (or, whatever is equivalent to a clutch basket, who holds the others back? P1-on!

  4. How about ranking the top 5, bottom 5 general managers in DFW history- would love that list.