CFB’s Most Hated Coaches as James Bond Villains
Nick Saban: Nick Nack
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With Skyfall coming to U.S. theaters on Friday, we compare ten of college football’s most polarizing coaches to villains from the James Bond movie series. They don’t expect the rest of the college football world to talk. They expect it to die.
Three-time BCS champion Nick Saban has demonstrated his coaching capabilities. Yet his curmudgeonly disdain for things such as the media’s fawning coverage of Alabama makes him college football’s Public Enemy No. 1.
And he shares more than just a name with Nick Nack, the stealth and lethal henchman from 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. They share a similar stature. Or lack thereof. Saban may seem larger than life in the eyes of Crimson Tide fans, but in actuality he’s only 5-foot-6. He’s considerably taller than Nick Nack, who was portrayed by 3-foot-11 actor Hervé Villechaize, but compared to the average American male he’s pint-sized.
Steve Spurrier: Dr. No
Upon taking the helm at Florida for the 1990 season, Spurrier became a loathed coach like no one before him. He launched a Fun ‘n Gun attack on the rest of the confounded college football world, and his penchant for running up the score and saying exactly what was on his mind infuriated opposing coaches, players and fans. While coaches before him were disliked by opponents, Spurrier is arguably the original super villain of college football.
Fifty years ago this past October 5 marked the release the first Bond movie, Dr. No. And with it the world was introduced to the first Bond movie villain. Dr. No ran his evil schemes not far from Florida, attempting to sabotage an American missile test from his island hideout off the coast of Jamaica.
When it comes to villains, no one is quite like the original. In sports or in movies.
Lane Kiffin: Max Zorin
USC’s Lane Kiffin demonstrated that loyalty was also not his forte upon leaving Tennessee for the Trojans’ job after just one season in Knoxville. And his continued penchant for making enemies — whether it’s the press, opposing teams or polling services — is super villain-like.
Along those lines, the Wikipedia entry for the primary antagonist in 1985’s A View to a Kill describes Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) as “extremely sadistic and displays a near-total lack of loyalty to his own men.” And like Kiffin, he also operates out of the state of California.
Kiffin critics are no doubt happy that, like Max Zorin, his efforts to destroy Silicon Valley have also fallen flat: He’s 0–3 against Stanford as USC’s head coach.
Will Muschamp: Le Chiffre
Both Muschamp and the antagonist from 2006’s Casino Royale are relatively young newcomers to the worlds of head coaching and Bond villainy, respectively.
Florida fans love Muschamp, a sentiment shared by the media that gets to highlight his craziest coaching moments and the players he’s coached past and present. While his ranting and raving sometimes rubs opposing coaches the wrong way, it’s the referees he constantly lambasts that probably see him as a true bad guy.
Le Chiffre is considerably more steely and taciturn but no less intense, especially when his icy stare fixes onto anything or anyone. And no one does icy stares in college football like Florida’s head coach. Muschamp was called “Coach Blood” at Texas, while Le Chiffre weeps blood out of a damaged eye.
The similarities aside, we doubt that an emotional guy like Muschamp would ever be able to maintain a poker face anywhere near as well as Le Chiffre.
Urban Meyer: Alec Trevelyan
Rival coaches view Meyer as a villain for what they deem are shady recruiting practices. (See Nos. 6, 4 and 3 on our list of Top 10 CFB Coaching Feuds.) Florida fans, on the other hand, look at Meyer as a traitor who bolted for Ohio State one year after claiming the Gators job was jeopardizing his health.
It sounds awfully similar to the traitorous activities of Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) in 1995’s GoldenEye. Once a fellow MI6 agent, Trevelyan faked his death on a mission with Bond and reemerged nine years later as Janus, the leader of a wide-reaching crime syndicate. While Meyer didn’t go as far as faking his own death, Florida fans openly question whether Meyer used his health as an excuse to jump ship on a program that was slipping.
And as far as Gator Nation is concerned, Meyer is now trying to lure Florida’s equivalent of James Bond, Tim Tebow, over to the enemy.
Charlie Weis: Goldfinger
Weis boasts a successful coaching history, having been the OC for New England’s three Super Bowl-winning teams and turning Notre Dame into a national contender.
Yet even while briefly leading the Irish back to relevance, Weis agitated the media, boosters and members of the athletic department as well as rival coaches. Weis eventually flopped in South Bend, but that boorish behavior carried over into his next head coaching gig at Kansas. Now he’s more known for crassness and classlessness than coaching.
His similarly rotund Bond counterpart, Auric Goldfinger, was a successful businessman whose multitude of properties around the world hid his true identity as a gold smuggler. Goldfinger’s true nature came to light upon his revealing Operation Grand Slam, a plan to render the gold in Fort Knox radioactive and useless so as to increase the value of his own gold holdings.
Weis certainly has his own large stack of money, as he was paid a whopping $6.6 million last year by Notre Dame as part of a buyout that lasts until 2015.
Gene Chizik: Franz Sanchez
Auburn’s coach rose to the top of his profession upon winning the 2010 BCS title. But that victory wasn’t without its share of doubters, as many were convinced that Heisman winner Cam Newton arrived on the Plains in a dubious (read: NCAA violation) manner.
Now, Chizik is also dealing with the declining performance of his team. He’s on the run from those accusations of cheating and the probability that he’ll be fired at the end of the 2012 season.
Chizik’s circumstance is similar to drug baron Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), who was introduced to License to Kill audiences in 1989 as someone that had been on the run from the DEA for years. He seemed poised to make a killing selling petrol-disguised cocaine to Asian drug dealers, only to have the law catch up to him.
Considering how lonely Chizik must feel in facing all his critics, he looks like he could also use an iguana as a companion.
Bret Bielema: Jaws
Bielema, a 6-foot-6 giant who was a defensive lineman at Iowa, has been accused by rival coaches and the media for running up the score on opponents. He’s also engaged in a war of words with conference rival Urban Meyer over what Bielema perceived to be Meyer stealing his recruits.
It’s the same type of straight-ahead, no-apologies mindset possessed by Jaws, who also shares Bielema’s sheer size. While Jaws eventually turned good to help Bond, he is best remembered as a ruthless killer in The Spy Who Loved Me. After putting up 83 points on Indiana in 2010, don’t expect fans in Bloomington to ever view Bielema a good guy.
Bo Pelini: Renard
Is there a head coach in the FBS more perpetually angry than Nebraska’s Bo Pelini? Heck, UrbanDictionary.com defines “Pelini” as “a violent rage that cannot be controlled, often expressed in Tourette’s-like cursing accompanied with demonic facial contortions.” QB Taylor Martinez experienced it up close two seasons ago.
While Bond villains definitely have their moments of rage, most of them are cool, calculating plotters. Renard (Robert Carlyle) in The World Is Not Enough is not like that. A bullet lodged in his brain from a previous MI6 attempt on his life makes him immune to pain, leaving him free to fight and brawl to his heart’s content.
Anyone on the end of one of Pelini’s rants probably wishes there was a cure-all that could make them immune (or deaf) to his screaming.
Todd Graham: Francisco Scaramanga
In recent memory, perhaps no one other than Bobby Petrino has epitomized the mercenary approach to coaching more than Todd Graham. Since 2006, he’s been the coach at four different schools: Rice, Tulsa, Pitt and Arizona State.
It was the ugly ending to Graham’s tenure at Pitt that sealed his reputation. After just one season with the Panthers, he announced his decision to take the Sun Devils job via text and later said his children didn’t enjoy living in Pittsburgh.
He’s almost as ruthless a mercenary as Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), the for-hire assassin and title character in The Man with the Golden Gun who charges one million dollars per kill. Upon stealing the Solex Agitator midway through the film, he plans on selling it to the highest bidder.
Right now, Scaramanga’s marksmanship is leaps and bounds better than Graham’s. Unless you count two GMAC Bowl victories as “ bulls eyes.”