Top 10 College Basketball Coaching Tirades
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Sometimes the rigors of the college basketball season, particularly the closer it gets to tourney time, are just too much for a coach to take. Recently, the likes of Frank Martin, Jim Boeheim, Matt Painter, Mike Montgomery and Bill Self have all cracked under the pressure. With that in mind, we rank the Top 10 Biggest Coaching Tirades in college hoops history.
With his UTEP squad fighting to remain atop the Conference USA standings during a February 2011 game at East Carolina, head coach Tim Floyd was assessed a warning and then a technical foul by referee Jeb Hartness for being outside the coaching box area. Floyd continued chirping at Hartness, who whistled him for a second "T" and ejected Floyd just moments later.
How bad was Floyd’s reaction to that? For starters, a police officer had to step in between him and Hartness before escorting him off the court. Floyd got testy with the cop before coming to his senses and heading to the exit. And Floyd so riled up assistant Phil Johnson, who was preparing to take over for the departed Floyd, that Johnson was also whistled for two technical fouls and ejected.
“I’ve always earned my technical and I didn’t feel like I earned it,” Floyd told The El Paso Times following the game.
Floyd certainly got his money's worth with his ejection.
Bobby Knight was already in an agitated mood following his Indiana team’s 65–60 loss to Missouri in the first round of the ’95 Big Dance — the first time since 1988 that the Hoosiers wouldn’t make the Sweet Sixteen. Rance Pugmire just made things worse.
Then working as an NCAA volunteer, Pugmire informed the press that Knight wouldn’t be attending the postgame presser when, in fact, he was just running a few minutes late. Needless to say, Knight didn’t appreciate Pugmire speaking on his behalf.
"You've only got two people that are going to tell you I'm not going to be here,” Knight said to Pugmire. “One is our SID [Sports Information Director], and the other is me ... You f*cked it up to begin with. Now just sit there or leave. I don't give a sh*t what you do.”
Knight then calmly turned his attention to the reporters gathered and said, “Now back to the game.” The incident didn’t sour Pugmire on a career in sports, as he later became Utah State’s athletic director. He likely spent each of his years there dreaming that the Aggies would knock Bob Knight out of the tourney.
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If the ideal adjective for describing Bob Knight is “fiery,” Jim Calhoun is best labeled as “salty.” The Boston native's persona is best fit for a longshoreman — as is his choice of language.
Calhoun’s postgame press conference was epic following UConn’s January 2004 loss to Providence, in which Friars star and Connecticut native Ryan Gomes went for 26 points and 12 rebounds. When a reporter asked Calhoun what the coach saw now in Gomes that he didn't see in high school, Calhoun went ballistic at the implication that Calhoun had screwed up by not making Gomes a Husky.
"It's the dumbest f*cking question I've ever heard," replied Calhoun. "I've explained it 1,000 times. I f*cked up. I didn't take Ryan Gomes. Does that make you happy? Jesus Christ Almighty. ... It took 18 months to sell the kid to Providence. It's been written about. It's been talked about. Don't shake your f*cking head. You asked a question. I'm telling you how I feel about it. I took Emeka Okafor and Caron Butler. They're not bad. I can't take every player. We have 13 scholarships. ... And if you want me to say I f*cked up, I f*cked up. Write it. ... You want me to say I f*cked up? For the fifth time, I f*cked up. So put it five times."
We got them all, coach.
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Syracuse had just survived a dramatic Big East tournament game with Cincinnati, 74–73, on a ridiculous running 3-pointer by senior Gerry McNamara. In the postgame press conference, coach Jim Boeheim simultaneously praised McNamara while blasting a column written in SU’s student newspaper, The Daily Orange, that quoted anonymous assistant coaches as calling McNamara overrated.
“Without Gerry McNamara, we wouldn’t have won 10 f*cking games this year. Okay?” Boeheim told those gathered. “These other guys just aren’t ready. They needed him ... And everybody’s talking to me and writing to me about Gerry McNamara being overrated? That’s the most bullsh*t thing I’ve seen in 30 years, and especially because it comes from our people, in our papers.”
Never mind that the column — penned by then-sophomore Ethan Ramsey — had run a full month before the Big East tournament and was accompanied by a companion column that said McNamara wasn’t overrated.
Every so often when a coach blows up at a reporter, it’s completely justified. Such as when Jim Calhoun put reporter Ken Krayeske in his place at a ’09 postgame press conference.
Krayeske, a political activist and freelance journalist, asked Calhoun as to whether or not he felt guilty about making a seven-figure salary while the state was facing a budget shortfall. Calhoun responded with, “Not a dime back,” making it clear he thought he earned every bit of his salary. When Krayeske persisted, Calhoun became unhinged.
“Quite frankly, we bring in $12 million to the university, nothing to do with state funds," Calhoun bellowed. "We make $12 million a year for this university. Get some facts and come back and see me! ... Don't throw out salaries and other things. Get some facts and come back and see me! We turn over $12 million to the University of Connecticut, which is state-run. Next question."
Bravo, coach Calhoun. Bravo.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree within the Knight family.
Following a February loss during his first season at Lamar, Bobby Knight's son Pat was furious with his seniors. So much so that in the middle of guard Mike James’ interview at the podium, Knight shooed James away, telling him, “You don’t have a clue what it takes to win.”
That was just a precursor for what Knight said next. “We’ve got the worst group of seniors right now that I’ve ever been associated with. Their mentality is awful. Their attitude is awful. It has been their M.O. for the last three years ... We’ve had problems with them off the court, on the court, classroom, drugs, being late for stuff. All that stuff correlates together if you’re going to win games."
Amazingly, Knight’s winding, eight-minute rant worked. Lamar would rally to win the Southland Conference East Division title, the Southland Conference Tournament title and a berth in the Big Dance. When the Cardinals’ season ended, Knight personally (and tearfully) lauded the efforts of his senior class, who he nicknamed the “Under-the-Bus Gang.”
Bobby Knight has never been particularly fond of the media, at one time referring to the profession as “one or two steps above prostitution.” So when ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla asked in a December 2003 interview with Knight (then at Texas Tech) and former player Steve Alford (Iowa's head coach at the time) about the supposedly fractured relationship between the two, Knight blew a gasket.
“Let me answer that,” Knight responded. “You know, this is an absolute crock of bullsh*t. You know, you f*cking people in the news media, all of you f*ckers, dwell on some negative piece of bullsh*t like that. And I don't know how Steve feels about it but it f*cking pisses me off and you don't have to bleep one single f*cking word of this... So all of you media people can go f*ck yourselves when it comes to something like that. Now, I don't know if Steve has anything to add to that or not.”
Alford uncomfortably sitting there waiting for his mentor to finish provides some great unintentional comedy to this. Now Knight and Fraschilla are coworkers at ESPN, with Fraschilla replacing Knight on Big Monday games for the network this season.
Nolan Richardson had won nearly 400 games at Arkansas entering the 2001–2002 season, but the Razorbacks were a disappointing .500 in February of 2002. In response, Richardson lashed out at everyone during a surreal press conference focused on race - including the local media, unhappy fans and the school.Somehow, this rant is not on YouTube, but here's a sampling: "I know for a fact that I do not play on the same level as the other coaches around this school play on. I know that. You know it. And people of my color know that. And that angers me ... Do not call me ever on my phone, none of you, at my home ever again. Those lines are no longer open for communications with me ... If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take my job tomorrow.”
Sure enough, Richardson was dismissed as Arkansas' head coach shortly thereafter. He later filed a lawsuit against the university, citing a racially discriminatory environment. Only recently has the relationship between the two been patched up.
If you play a word association game with any college hoops fan, “Bobby Knight” would probably yield “chair” at least half the time.
The most famous manifestation of Knight’s legendary temper took place during a 1985 Purdue-Indiana game. Upset that the Hoosiers were called for a foul on a loose ball, Knight was assessed a technical foul, sending Boilermakers guard Steve Reid to the free throw line for two shots.
But before Reid could shoot, Knight flung a red plastic chair from the IU bench across the court at Assembly Hall and then berated the officials. He was ejected and later given a one-game suspension and two years’ probation from the Big Ten.
Knight’s counterpart at Purdue, Gene Keady, insisted after the game that the most important thing was that his team won, 72–63. Yet the final score is probably the last thing people remember about this game.
While Bob Knight’s chair toss is replayed more often, tirades don’t get any bigger than barging into an opposing coach’s press conference, threatening to kill him and screaming “When I see you, I'm gonna kick your a**!”
That’s what then-Temple head coach John Chaney did after a ’94 loss to John Calipari’s UMass team, during which Chaney was incensed at Calipari working over the officials. A notorious hothead, Chaney had to be restrained before reaching Calipari at the podium and trying to pummel a coach almost 30 years his junior.
Calipari's response was legendary: “Some things never cease to amaze me.”
Even more bizarre than the incident is the fact Calipari and Chaney are now good friends nearly two decades later. Go figure.
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