Home > Movies, Sports > UNC football search goes Hollywood

UNC football search goes Hollywood

Well, after a couple of posts (here and here) on Sweet Monkey Pie, the UNC athletics department bowed to this immense pressure and fired John Bunting. Wow, the pen is mightier than… a 1-7 coach.

Actually, it’s so much more interesting to watch the scramble to find a replacement for Bunting. The local paper, the (Raleigh) News & Observer, compiled a list of practical candidates. One not included on this list, but in another I saw, was LSU assistant coach Jimbo Fisher. Man, that would be awesome. With that name, shouldn’t he have a fishing show on ESPN2?

The thing that all UNC fans don’t find so funny is that the same athletic director — Dick Baddour — that hired John Bunting (and Carl Torbush… and Matt Doherty) is in charge of this hire. My buddy Carter mentioned that Dick might get confused and offer the job to an actor who once portrayed a coach on screen. That got me thinking… what can we learn from Hollywood sports movies and apply to this coaching search?

Just in my lifetime, there have been more than a few good football movies, each featuring an iconic coach (or at least a comically memorable skipper). So, let’s go through a few of my favorite on-screen coaches – and what our hapless athletic director, can learn from them.

Al Pacino as Tony D’Amato in Any Given Sunday
I’ll be honest, he’s probably one of my least-favorite movie coaches of all time. Why? Well, as an Oliver Stone character, he was wildly over-the-top and more than a bit irritating. But, when he wasn’t yelling at Jamie Fox or a crazy-ass Lawrence Taylor (a good ol’ UNC alum), he was a good motivator.

What can UNC learn from this coach? Hire the best and expect the best. Whether that’s Stone choosing Pacino for this role — or Cameron Diaz as the owner in the movie hiring D’Amato as her coach — ya gotta have the goods. Plus, see if the coach can scream, “Hoo-ah” for no reason ever so often.

So… UNC should hire…? Butch Davis. He’s the only luminary on the list. The Pacino to everyone else’s… Screech. Although with Butch, there’s little chance that he’ll have a relationship with a hooker played by Elizabeth Berkeley. Dammit.

Craig T. Nelson as Coach Hayden Fox in Coach
Yes, this sitcom was to college football what Wings was to the aviation industry. Still, Craig T. Nelson really held his own against his assistant coaches, Jerry Van Dyke and the blond doofus. I didn’t watch this show all that much, but I think that Coach Fox turned a mediocre program into a national power. Because if we know one thing, Craig T. Nelson is a winner. Except when facing poltergeists.

What can UNC learn from this coach? Never underestimate the power of tenacity. This sitcom — much like the insufferable Yes, Dear — persevered in the face of incredible odds. And they got to the summit — Fox won a big game, I think, and Coach made it into syndication. Kudos, there.

So… UNC should hire…? Paul Johnson turned a long, successful run at Georgia Southern into another fantastic run at Navy. He’s ready for the big time, perhaps, and he has a good track record as a head coach already. Plus, can Jerry Van Dyke really be worse than our current offensive or defensive coordinators? At least we’d be intentionally funny, instead of the unintentional comedy that we’re displaying.

Goldie Hawn as Molly McGrath in Wildcats
No list of movie coaches would be complete without a discussion of Hawn in Wildcats, an under-appreciated piece of mid-80s cra… uh, cinema. Hawn plays a coach’s daughter who is by some bizarre chain of events offered the job as head football coach at an inner city school. Why? I don’t know, but you have Nipsey Russell as the principal or athletic director or something. And you know what, I’d take Nipsey over Baddour any day. But that goes without saying.

Anyhoo, beyond the feel-good “We’ve come a long way, baby” vibes from this movie, it also features the pairing of Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes a few years before White Men Can’t Jump. And, making an appearance in this movie is Mykelti Williamson, best known as Bubba in Forrest Gump. Seriously, who wasn’t in this movie? Well, a credible screenwriter, I guess.

What can UNC learn from this coach? Don’t hire a coach whose best years were 10 years prior (Goldie Hawn’s looks, in this case). Also, don’t underestimate the role of a good family pedigree.

So… UNC should hire…? Steve Kragthorpe, a just-getting-started coach who’s a football brat. Too bad he’s already said that he’d rather stay at Tulsa. Good call. Stay at your mid-major school in the midwest. Whatever… Yeah, that was arrogant. Sorry ’bout that.

Chelcie Ross as Dan Devine in Rudy
Now, anyone that knows me knows that I loves me one movie: Rudy. I’ve written before about how the emotional ending is a great fix for dry eye syndrome. And if this movie had a villian, it’s Devine, the Notre Dame coach who refused to play the plucky reserve. Ross — who managed to score the three-sport movie trifecta by appearing in Rudy, Major League and Hoosiers — is a fantastic character actor and the patron saint of “I know that guy!” moments in movie history.

What can UNC learn from this coach? Don’t be an asshole. Always play your scrubs. Don’t drink Jobu’s rum. Don’t ever, ever mess with Coach Dale. OK, I’ve combined all three of his sports movies. Chelcie Ross… the sports movie god.

So… UNC should hire…? Christ, I don’t know. More frightening… I dont’ think Dick Baddour does either. Makes me want to drink. Hey bartender! Jobu needs a refill!

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Categories: Movies, Sports
  1. TonyS Fan
    November 3, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    As usual and with great insight….you have articulated beautifully the train wreck that is Baddour’s tenure….

    I have a better chance figuring out the ending to LOST then Baddour’s “system” for finding a coach!

  2. baldo
    November 3, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    shut your piehole, pieman! what a load of crap you publish!

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