The other day I was thinking about how much certain coaches just get on my nerves. Maybe you have felt the same way, maybe not. But when I saw a story on ESPN and they showed a clip of Nick Saban it just made me grit my teeth. What is it about that guy that causes such a vitriolic reaction? I'm not sure, but as I thought about it, I realized that there are several coaches along the college football landscape that really irritate me, and Saban is not even the worst of them.
But I also realize that something like this is inherently subjective, and so what makes my blood boil might just get a "meh" reaction from many others. So I thought I would open it up to all of the dozen or so readers who don't immediately navigate away from the site when they see my name come up on the byline, and see who you think is the most annoying coach in all of college football. I'm going to list some of what I think are the main candidates, plus a short resume for your consideration. After that, I've got a few more names to consider and a few words about each of them.
The fact that Meyer coaches Florida, one of my most hated teams, makes him a strong candidate right off the bat. Add to that all of his crybaby nonsense after being upset by Michigan 2 years ago, and you have a pretty good resume right there. Now consider the Spurrier-style histrionics on the sideline, the shameless lobbying to get into the BCS championship game back in 2006, the publicity-stunt-disguised-as-a-health-sabbatical after last season, and his profanity-laced tirade directed at a reporter earlier this spring, and coach Meyer takes the cake in my book. But maybe you have doubts? Well, consider the next candidate.
The main thing about Saban that annoys me is that he's such a shameless self-promoter and borderline pathological liar. While it is true that the man has been successful, it's bad for college football to have a person so obviously lacking in integrity at the top of the profession, both in terms of accomplishment and in terms of how much he gets paid. Nothing epitomizes the "win at all costs" mentality more than paying $32 million to have Nick Saban coach your football team. If there is a polar opposite of Jim Tressel in the world of college football, Saban is the man. The fact that his team is the reigning BCS champion only adds to the pain.
Where do we start with this candidate? Kiffin had one of the most spectacular head-coaching failures in NFL history when he was with the Raiders, but somehow he landed on his feet and got hired as head coach at Tennessee. While there, he famously accused Urban Meyer of cheating, was then accused of cheating himself by Steve Spurrier, and publicly shamed a recruit's grandmother, all before coaching a single game. Then there were the recruiting shenanigans, like using a smoke machine to stage a phony entrance on the field for one recruit (NCAA violation), announcing the commitment of a recruit via Twitter (another NCAA violation), staging a mock press conference for some other recruits (another NCAA violation), allowing ESPN to film a meeting with some other recruits (yet another violation), and then taking some recruits to a theater and having all the coaches rip their shirts off (just tasteless nonsense). Then he topped it all by leaving UT after one year to go coach at soon-to-be-sanctioned USC. Never mind the stupidity of taking the job at that time, but how does this guy keep getting prime coaching jobs? Must be his father's connections or something like that.
BEST OF THE REST
Here are some other notables that were suggested by my friends, followed by their credentials, such as they are:
Les Miles - Besides the fact that he coached against us in one of those humiliating bowl defeats, there's the fact that he proudly proclaims himself to be a "Michigan Man", the fact that he boasted about his "d*** strong football team" prior to the aforementioned bowl game, and the fact that he has a penchant for running up the score on opponents (including calling for a fake punt in a blowout bowl win).
Mike Leach - First there's the smugness of a guy who thinks he has the system-to-beat-all-systems (see Weis, Charlie), then throw in some whining about bad calls, stir in the over-the-top abuse of one of his players, and top it off with the "defiant act of insubordination" that got him fired, and you have a potent stew of irritating sludge.
Bobby Stoops - This candidate is well known for sideline histrionics (learned at the feet of the OBC), running up the score relentlessly on his way to an undeserved berth in the 2009 BCS Championship game, and grooming assistants to become irritating head coaches (see above). His highly publicized big-game failures have done nothing to reduce his ego, hence his inclusion on the list.
Brian Kelly - This candidate is working hard to cross into Saban territory with all of the denials and claims about how he was focused on winning the Big East, etc. Add in a bit of the Leach style "system" arrogance and the fact that he is now the coach at Notre Dame, and he makes the list almost by default.
Chip Kelly - In addition to the obligatory praise for his whiz-bang offensive scheme, this candidate has exerted extra effort in the off-season to put his name on the list. Aside from acting ignorant about his players' apparent lack of behavioral restraint, he also has one of his assistants basically accusing Ohio State of cheating in the Rose Bowl. Strong resume, indeed.
There were several other names suggested to me by my friends (JoePa, RichRod, Spurrier, etc.) including our own Coach Tressel (apparently his play-calling still grates on some, along with his not-so-interesting manner of speaking). But I think the list I have probably covers most of the major candidates. What do you think? Is Urban truly the most annoying? Or is Saban or Kiffin the true king of irritation? Did I exclude someone that you think should be there? Please add whatever you feel is appropriate, with decorum of course. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.