Everyone knows that, in the heat of competition, athletes, coaches, and fans can get pretty fired up. However, that doesn’t give anyone a free pass to say or do anything they want. There are still lines that people just should not cross. For fans that means not running on to the field, or beating each other up. For players that means not violently assaulting referees. And for coaches, that means not verbally or physically abusing their players.
Unfortunately, these lines are crossed all the time. However, never is this more shocking and disappointing than when it’s college coaches who go too far. They have a position of power over their athletes that their professional counterparts do not. Pro athletes have millions of dollars and powerful unions; college athletes do not. They risk having their scholarships revoked or their pro careers jeopardized by speaking out against an abusive coach.
Today, in light of the recent events at Rutgers, let’s take a look at some of the most notorious abusive college coaches over the years.
I threw this example from 2011 in here to show you what I don't think really qualifies as "abuse." Yes, Holy Family basketball coach John O'Connor went a little too far in the incident involving former player Matt Kravchuk. But here's the thing: this was a drill designed to get players used to "fighting" for the basketball. They were supposed to be physical and use their bodies. Should the coach have stepped in? No. But it's not like he went over and hit the kid after he missed a free throw or ran the wrong route on a play. He was just overzealous. As for the "kick" that came after Kravchuk was on the ground...well, that was not a kick. It was a shove that happened to be with his foot. Anyone who watches the video should be able to see that.
Thus, I'd say this incident was only barely out of line. It's more of an accident than abuse, and I think the player involved was too sensitive. O'Connor got a one-game suspension from the school, and later resigned—much to the chagrin of all his other players, who stood by him.
Bonus: John O'Connon
Do I think Cal Basketball coach Mike Montgomery is a truly abusive person? No, it doesn't seem to me that he is. However, what he did to one of his players back in February does, in my opinion, qualify as "abusive." Disappointed with the play of his leading scorer, guard Allen Crabbe, Montgomery gave the kid a violent shove right there on the sidelines for everyone in the arena and watching on TV to see. Not only was the shove too forceful, it was also humiliating for Crabbe, and you can see just how upset he was at the time.
Now, as I said, this seems like an isolated incident of bad judgment rather than part of a pattern of abuse. Not long afterward, the coach kind of made up to Crabbe by putting him back in the game. Then, after the game, both of them said they just got too heated, and the coach apologized.
9. Mike Montgomery
It's one thing to get overexcited and shove a guy harder than you meant to. It's quite another to slap the headphones off one of your graduate assistants on the sidelines of a D-I college football game. Nevertheless, that's what happened. In November 2012, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville slapped (or violently pulled) the headphones off one of his graduate assistants while berating him after a boneheaded penalty, and he looked like a pretty huge jerk who takes advantage the people under him.
The most ironic part? Tuberville replaced a guy who got fired from Texas Tech for being too abusive. So the spotlight is already on the guy, and he lost his cool anyway,
8. Tommy Tuberville
Also back in November 2012, Morehead State basketball coach Sean Woods was suspended for one game by the school's athletic director. The cause? He berated and shoved Eagles player Devon Atkinson after he fouled out with 5:51 remaining in a game against Kentucky. And that was the second notable incident of the first-year coach yelling at players during a game. Just a few weeks before that, he was seen screaming at another player during a game against Maryland.
Watching the video if the second incident, you really have to feel for Atkinson, here. The kid looks like he's about to cry. You can only imagine what Woods must have said to him.
7. Sean Woods
Note: the above video contains some very salty language. Adjust the volume accordingly.
After leading the Kansas Jayhawks football program to a #1 ranking and a shot (albeit brief) at a National Championship in 2007, in 2009 coach Mark Mangino was asked to resign after a number of allegations of verbal and physical abuse surfaced.
What kind of physical abuse, you ask? Well, former DL Cory Kipp says he was forced to do a bear crawl across scorching hot astroturf that left him with a serious burn on his hand. So that kind of abuse.
6. Mark Mangino
Everyone knew that legendary college hoop coach Bobby Knight had a wicked temper. After all, the guy was known to throw chairs across the court when calls didn't go his way. However, for most of Knight's illustrious career at Indiana, there was nobody videotaping his every move and sending it to TV news stations, so nobody knew how Knight treated his own players behind closed doors. However, in 2000, video surfaced that showed Knight choking former player Neil Reed, so the University of Indiana instituted a zero tolerance policy with Knight from then on out. The very next season, an IU student shouted "Hey, Knight, what's up?" at the coach, and he grabbed the kid on the arm and lectured him about showing him proper respect. That got him canned.
5. Bobby Knight
Mike Leach was the head football coach at Texas Tech before Tommy Tuberville. He got fired in 2009 after it was discovered that he punished an injured player by making him stand in the equipment shed during practice. That player happened to be Adam James. He had a concussion, and he is son of ESPN football analyst Craig James. So word got out.
Of course, Leach already had a reputation as being a hot head, and he probably should have been fired after going on a rant about his players' "fat little girlfriends," which was just bizarre and, more importantly, fairly offensive to the Texas Tech coeds.
4. Mike Leach
At #3 we have the recently fired Mike Rice. It turns out that you are not supposed to throw basketballs at your players heads and call them f***ots, motherf***ers, pu***es, sissy bit**es, and c**ts. But, you know, that's what he did.
Of course, what makes this case even worse is that the Rutgers athletic director, Tim Pernetti, was told about all this, and he let the guy keep his job. Oh sure, he fined him $50,000, but the penalty for Rice's actions obviously should have been termination.
3. Mike Rice
Back in the good old days, coaches berated and abused their players as they saw fit. The idea was that the boot camp approach would make them tough, and nobody really questioned it as long as you got results. Woody Hayes? That guy got results. During his 28 years as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, he won five National Championships and 13 Big Ten titles, going 205-61-10.
However, at the 1978 Gator Bowl, Hayes lost his mind and punched a player...on the other team. A Clemson player intercepted an OSU pass as the team was marching downfield and nearly in range of a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter. Then the Clemson player was tackled right in front of the Ohio State coach, so he punched the kid in the throat.
Hayes was fired the very next day.
2. Woody Hayes
Who is Greg Winslow? Well, he's the swimming coach at Utah. Or, he was the swimming coach at Utah. He's currently suspended and will surely be fired as soon as the university completes its investigation into the allegations against the guy.
Are you ready to hear what they are? Well, it's claimed that, among other things, he:
often came to practice drunk
punched an assistant coach
used racial slurs
forced a team member to swim underwater with a PVC pipe taped to his back until he blacked out
kicked a guy off the team for putting his hand on his shoulder to get his attention
sexually abused a teenage girl in 2007
Now that's a list of serious allegations. Hopefully the only places he'll ever work again will have things like "Mc" and "Hut" in the titles.
1. Greg Winslow
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