October 11, 2023
“________ could take his’n and beat your’n … or take your’n and beat his’n.” – Oail “Bum” Phillips
If memory serves me – which is not a given these days – “Bum” was referring to Texas coaching legend Darrell Royal’s coaching expertise as compared to his contemporaries.
His implication is that a truly exceptional coach does not necessarily require the best players in order to win. Coaching expertise can often make up the difference.
As the sculptor chosen for The Mount Rushmore of Coaches rethinks whether Bill Belichek (without Tom Brady) merits a spot among the hallowed four or five or not … it occurs that I’ve had a commentary in mind for quite some time for which NOW might be The Time.
Is Fame & Fortune on The Big Stage the best way to measure a coach’s “best-ness”? I think not. If so, none of the four gentleman up top would ever appear on any list of Great Coaches except maybe mine … and pals of mine that recognize some or all of’em.
In order left to right:
Paul Jones – Ed Emory – George Whitfield … and BLSays Very Own “Coach” Reed AKA “CNR”
Today’s incredibly insightful commentary is not about these men on “My LIst”. It is about having YOU think about Your List.
My premise is not to belittle the obvious …… Vince Lombardi – Dean Smith – Red Auerbach – Jim Valvano – Paul Brown – John Wooden – Tom Landry – Phog Allen – Casey Stengal – Pat Summit – John McGraw – Mike Krzyzewski – Knute Rockne – Ol’ Roy – Nick Saban – Morgan Wooten – Bobby Knight – Anson Dorrance – Scotty Bowman – etc etc etc etc etc etc ….
If I left out your OBVIOUS choice it was either (1) to purposely piss you off … or (2) because he/she was not so obvious to me in the time I allotted to come up with a bunch of names.
No one in South Florida is nominating The U’s Mario Cristobal this week. Mario violated The #1 Rule for Any Coach with a Mega $$$ contract.
NEVER call a play that – in hindsight – didn’t work.
Rule #2 is, of course, NEVER admit you “masturbated while having phone sex”
The Miami / Dade County Chapter of Insane Board Monkeys ‘R Us are demanding Mario be Fired – Drawn & Quartered – and his entrails piled at mid-field in Hard Rock Stadium. Tough crowd …
I digress …
My premise is that The Best Coach in team sports is probably some guy / gal in some remote high school who has been there forever … won umpteen games and championships … helped umpteen kids “amount to something” … understands every nuance of “the game” … can teach every fundamental skill required in that sport to any group of ragtag kids that show up on his court / field / ball diamond … and in the course of the game come up with innumerable ways THAT …
“He/she can take his’n and beat your’n … or take your’n and beat his’n”
The four gentlemen up top – IMO – met/meet each of those criteria. Each spent most, if not all, of their long coaching careers in high schools in relatively small communities.
Ed Emory, of course, was HFBC at East Carolina for a time in the early ’80s. I met him him as Asst Coach at Jesse W. Grainger High School in KInston in the early 60s … fresh out of an AA career at East Carolina. His career included 5-6 different high schools all of which were winning programs.
“Physical Ed” was “a bona-fide character” and still remembered at every place he ever coached … and most of those “Ed did/said _____” stories ARE TRUE!
“Coach” Reed was a top assistant for both Adolph Rupp and John Wooden but spent over 30 years in high schools in Indiana and New Orleans. Those high school years are the ones he is most proud of. From a boyhood as Clubhouse attendant for St Louis’ GasHouseGang to courtside with Rupp and Wooden to 1,000s of games in 1,000s of gyms … “Coach Reid” lived “Hoosiers”.
NOTE: I have not heard from “Coach” in well over six months. He and Judy are living in China with his son’s family. In his mid 90s … and in failing health … I am concerned.
Paul Jones won over 650 basketball games in a 40+ year career …. 18 conference championships blah blah blah … and personified EVERY admirable quality imaginable for a coach and a human being every day of his life … if he slipped once or twice I don’t want to know about it.
Coach Jones successfully transitioned thru the chaotic turmoil of Intergration in the 70s when many of his peers simply could not.
NOTE: Coach Reed and Coach Jones met in 1965 when Coach Reed was recruiting New Bern’s Bill Bunting for Kentucky. Bill, of course, ended up at UNCCH.
Aside from my father … “Coach Jones” was as Fine A Man as I’ve ever known. Certainly on the very very short list.
George Whitfield is the winningest high school baseball coach in North Carolina history and maybe America and wherever else baseball is played. He won well over 1,000 games in high school and American Legion.
Along with his closest friend – the late immortal Clyde KIng – George may know more about “coaching baseball” than any man living or dead including any MLB manager.
When George Whitfield joins Clyde KIng in the dugout of Heaven’s Ball Diamond … they will bury him with a fungo bat in his hand and wearing perfectly rolled stirrup socks and sanitary hose.
I hope you have known men like these at some point in your life … whether you played for them or they were in your town wherever that was.
Could “my guys” have succeeded on A Big Stage … college or pro? We’ll never know. They all had opportunities for brighter lights and bigger bucks … but turned them down for various reasons.
Big Stages – Bright Lights – Big Bucks demand a lot more than “just” …. a ball, a whistle, a field/court, and a bunch of kids wanting to “learn how to play the game”. Thats enough of a challenge for some men.
Thankfully there have been “such men” as these … and hopefully there always will be.
CHAOS in The MLB Playoffs…
It is highly possible – likely – that NONE of the Four MLB teams with the most Ws in the regular season will make it to their League’s Championship Series much less The World Series. Is that “a bad thing”?
Every fan has an opinion …. especially traumatized fans of those four teams. The Dodgers, Orioles, Rays and Braves all stared into the elimination abyss … with the abyss staring back at the Dodgers, O’s and Rays so far with Braves holding on by a frog hair.
Simple Solution: Eliminate the “travel day” between the Wild Card round and Division Playoffs. That puts the “Bye” teams pitching rotations under stress … giving the best regular season record teams a decided advantage which they earned over 162 games.
But will anybody listen to BobLee? …. Nooooooo, of course not.
Is Mack2.0’s Carolina team destined for heretofore unreachable heights this year?
Are they really good? Absolutely now that that Mack has a solid defense and a running game to supplement “Air Maye”. Alas … I forsee two “L’s” lurking but not clear from who. Keeping Drake Maye uninjured is a MUST. … duh!
Howsabout Hubert Year 3? Too many Lower Levelers are still enraptured in the mystique of St. Dean and Ol’ Roy … thinking UNC BB is entitled to greatness just because. Convinced “last year” was an anomaly. Ain’t so, McGee.
Hubert Davis seems to be a fine fellow and probably a really good coach … but “really good” won’t be enough for the spoiled fans of Franklin Street. College Basketball 2023 is a very very different world than the one Dean and Roy were so successful in. Reality Bites!
A Final Word about Taylor Swift
My daughter “Kid” was a dedicated “Swiftie” 8-10 years ago; but not so much any more. With America’s moral handbasket in rapid descent towards a fiery end … IMO …
America’s young women would be far better served with role models such as Candace Owens and Riley Gaines.
If you don’t recognize those two names, they ain’t “on The View” … for sure. Look’em up.
More BobLee’s Rimshots – HERE