Everyone has their threshold – but in the high pressure, results-driven world of sport, the temper of a testosterone-fuelled man can easily be pushed beyond its normal limits. We’re not talking about the players either. Coaches are legendary for some pretty extreme examples of going just a wee bit crazy, whether at press conferences or on the playing field, and in some cases they really lose it, getting completely out of control. Match officials and sports journalists take heed. These guys are totally out of their minds!
1. Jim Playfair, Abbotsford Heat Ice Hockey Coach
When Jim Playfair, head coach of the Abbotsford Heat, lost his temper in 2010, he set new standards for coaches going into meltdown and notched up half a million views on Youtube in just three days. Playfair wasn’t happy when one of his players got ejected following a collision with the opposing Bulldogs goal tender. Boy was he not happy. First he decided it was the stick’s fault. Then he went Incredible Hulk, ripping off his jacket and almost strangling himself with his tie. Then he smashed up another stick, miraculously not falling on the ice. And all this while spewing some foul language at officials. At least in ice hockey cooling off isn’t an issue. Shame the same can’t be said for Playfair’s anger management.
2. Hal Mcrae, Kansas City Royals Baseball Manager
Billed on Youtube as “possibly the best post game rant by a coach ever”, Hal Mcrae, manager of the Major League Kansas City Royals, going nuts during a media conference in 1993, doesn’t disappoint. Things seemed to be going okay, until one of the mic-wielding reporters made an enquiry to which Mcrae took objection: “Don’t ask me all these stupid ass f*****g questions!” he hollered. Then he completely lost the plot, hurling desk objects like a tape recorder, cup of water and – check out the spin – telephone, while reeling off so many expletives he must have left the bleep censor guy with cramp. One witness looks like he even got hit by something. Moral of the story? Don’t ask a coach stupid-ass questions.
3. Phil Wellman, Mississippi Braves Baseball Manager
Phil Wellman, manager of Minor League team the Mississippi Braves, went nuts in 2007, gaining widespread fame by launching a tirade of abuse against umpires during a game at the Chattanooga Lookouts. In protest at his pitcher being thrown out of the game, Wellman covered the home plate with dirt to trace in his own larger version; uprooted and hurled bases; crawled across the infield like a soldier; and hurled the rosin bag at an umpire as if it were a hand grenade. Finally, he pretended to eject the umpires with a fist-pump, then blew a farewell kiss to the crowd and took a bow. Wellman was given a three game suspension. At least he knows he can pursue a career in entertainment.
4. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse University Basketball Coach
No human on the receiving end of the coach’s wrath in this next clip; instead technology at its most infuriating getting it right in the neck. In 2008, Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim got mad at a microphone guilty of emitting some pretty ear-grating feedback as he was trying to deliver his media address in the presser following a game his team should have won. After he warns someone to “turn this thing down or off,” the feedback kicks in with impeccable comic timing, just after a pause, causing Boeheim to take a swipe at the offending mic not once but twice. The sound guys must have been laughing their asses off almost as much as we were. Hilarious.
5. Brent Sapergia, Louisiana IceGators Ice Hockey Coach
More ice hockey madness here from 2009, starring Brent Sapergia, head coach of the Louisiana IceGators, who gave his minor league team rare national media coverage – for all the wrong reasons. Sapergia went majorly nuts protesting a refereeing decision in Pensacola. So nuts in fact that he threw most of the contents of the bench into play. First to go was a drinks cooler and some towels. Then, obviously still feeling he needed to make a point, he went and started throwing hockey sticks and rolls of tape onto the ice, before giving a farewell gesture to fans as he left the arena. It was the second game in a row Sapergia was disqualified from, so the fuming coach found himself banned by the league. N-ice.
6. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State University Football Coach
After a win over Texas Tech in 2007, Mike Gundy, head football coach at Oklahoma State University, got mad at a press conference – sounding like Al Pacino – and a nation took notice. The object of his rage? A newspaper article criticising one of his “heart-broken” players, that he slated as “inaccurate… fiction” (cue pages falling comically out of offending paper), and that “had to have been written by a person who doesn’t have a child!” Then came the paternal coach’s eye-bulging fury, which included him coining the immortal, “Come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40!” Never before has the closing line, “That’s all I got to say. It makes me want to puke,” been met with such applause from those present.
7. Joe Mikulik, Asheville Tourists Baseball Manager
Minor League Asheville Tourists manager Joe Mikulik gained fame for an epic tirade against umpires in a game against the Lexington Legends in 2006. Mikulik got into an argument over a close call when an opposing player was called safe. After being ejected from the game, he went crazy, pulling up second base and throwing it around the field, hurling out bats from the dugout, then pouring water onto home plate. After this, he continued his tantrum unseen, toppling objects in front of the umpire’s locker room. Unapologetic, Mikulik later claimed, “I could get two mannequins at Sears and umpire better than what I saw this whole series.” He did get a seven-day suspension and $1,000 fine.
8. Jim Calhoun, University of Connecticut Basketball Coach
It could have been a tough job picking the best press conference outburst from Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun – Lord knows, he’s let a few hapless hacks have it, usually with a barrages of f-words, for probing with the wrong questions – but the time he owned freelance journalist Ken Krayeske in 2009 has to take the cake. Following a Uconn win over South Florida, Krayeske, ignoring the game, asked a question about Calhoun’s salary and the state budget deficit. Calhoun said he would give “not a dime back”; told the reporter, “my best advice to you: shut up!”; and brought up the $12 million a year his team made for the university. “Next question.” Don’t mess with Jimmy.
9. Fred Hill, Rutgers University Basketball Coach
Back in 2008, Fred Hill, Jr., head men’s basketball coach at Rutgers University, made his name by losing both his temper and his job. And his own team weren’t even playing. Hill was at a baseball game against Pittsburgh to support his father, the Scarlet Knights coach, but when the opposing coaches protested a controversial late-inning call, Hill stepped onto the field yelling obscenities their way, and also managed to vent some of his frustration on one of the advertising billboards (though nobody knows what AT&T had to do with his ire). Hill was told not to attend the rest of the Pittsburgh-Rutgers series – an order he disobeyed. He was ‘allowed’ to resign in return for a buyout $850,000. If only we all were.
10. Kevin Keegan, Newcastle United Soccer Coach
In the goldfish bowl of reserve that is the British media, coaches’ outbursts may not have the vehemence of their transatlantic counterparts, but for the English sporting public this incident was pure sporting gold dust – indeed one of the country’s greatest sporting moments. During the race for the 1995–96 English Premier League soccer title, Newcastle United coach Kevin Keegan famously directed remarks at rival Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson during an interview on live television. His closing outburst – “I’d love it if we beat them! Love it!” – is a quote never matched in its decade of Premier League football for the crazed passion of its delivery. Beautiful.