Cook: Nothing beats a good rant
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Say this about Duquesne basketball coach Jim Ferry: He rants a lot better than his team plays. After the Dukes took a 79-57 home licking from George Washington Wednesday night for their 10th consecutive loss, he offered the obligatory apology to Palumbo Center fans: "I'm embarrassed by this." Then, Ferry named names of the players he felt were the perps in the loss: "Andre Marhold hasn't given us anything in a long time," he said of his senior center, one of four players in Duquesne's inside rotation. "People talk about playing two of them together. Heck, I'm trying to find one."
That same night, another coach with a higher profile and a much better program also went off. "It was the worst team Kansas ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was there," Bill Self said after his Jayhawks were upset by TCU.
Each was a good rant.
Each has a long way to go to rank with the best in sports.
The vote here for top coaching rant goes to Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia, who went after booing fans at Wrigley Field. Note: Bleeps have replaced Elia's actual words. Let your imagination run wild:
"The bleepers don't even work. That's why they're at the bleeping game. Go out and get a bleeping job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a bleeping living. Eighty-five percent of the bleeping world is working. The other 15 come out here. It's a bleeping playground for the bleeps."
Some of the better rants have been directed at the media. Why not? They are easy targets.
There was Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda when asked about Dave Kingman's performance against his team: "What's my opinion of Kingman's performance? What the bleep do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was bleeping bleep. My opinion of his performance? He beat us with three bleeping home runs. How can you ask me a question like that? Bleep, he hit three home runs."
There was Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae with a tantrum that would have made Billy Martin blush: "Don't ask me stupid-bleep questions!" he growled before taking everything off his desk -- telephone, tape recorders, books -- and throwing them around his office.
There also was Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy responding to criticism of one of his players: "He's not a professional athlete. Come after me. I'm a man! I'm 40!"
More common are coaches' rants against players.
San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary called out young tight end Vernon Davis: "I will not tolerate players that think it's about them when it's about the team. Cannot play with 'em. Cannot win with 'em. Cannot coach with 'em. Can't do it."
Colorado football coach Dan Hawkins had an answer for players who complained he was working them too hard: "Go play intramurals, brother. Go play intramurals."
Former NFL coach Jim Mora had a couple of classics. He once accused his New Orleans Saints of not doing "diddly doo." Much more famous was his reaction when asked if his 4-6 Indianapolis Colts team still had a shot at the playoffs: "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game."
There was Lamar basketball coach Pat Knight. What do they say about the apple not falling far from the tree? Knight is the son of coaching legend Bobby Knight. Check out what he had to say after his team lost last season to Stephen F. Austin: "We've got the worst group of seniors that I've ever been associated with. Their mentality is awful. Their attitude is awful ... We've had problems with these guys off the court, on the court, classroom, drugs, being late for stuff ... They've got to grow up. That's a problem with society. People don't make kids accountable ... These kids are stealing money being on scholarship ... If they act this way in the real world, you're going to be homeless without a job ... We have a bunch of tin men out there. They've got no heart."
We've had great coaching rants here. Pirates manager Jim Leyland had many meltdowns, perhaps none better than when he publicly took starter Paul Wagner out of the rotation: "He's out! Out! O-u-bleeping-t out!"
Penguins coach Bob Berry went nuts in 1987 after his team followed an 8-1 win in Quebec with a 7-2 home loss to Toronto: "Win one, 8-1. Lose one, 7-2. Easy come, easy go. That' the bleeping attitude we had tonight. They don't have the bleeping intestinal fortitude. Big shots. In the back door, put the bleeping show on, back out on the bus, go somewhere else, just like circus performers. They tell everybody they're professional hockey players. They might be hockey players, but they're not very bleeping professional."
But the best rant in Pittsburgh came from Penguins coach Michel Therrien after a loss to Edmonton in the 2005-06 season, his first on the job. Not once did he utter a profanity. But there was no mistaking his message: "That defensive squad, I think their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league and they're doing such a great job to be the worst defensive squad in the league. They turn the puck over. They have no vision. They're soft. I've never seen a bunch of defensemen this soft ... There's a lot of guys who don't care. They pretend to care, but I know they don't care."
Do rants work?
It depends on how good the coach or manager is and what kind of feel he has for his team. There are times when players need that kick in the behind. Good leaders know the precise time to deliver it. The danger is delivering it at the wrong time or, worse, too often. Then, players tune out the boss and the boss gets fired.
Singletary's rant worked with Davis and the 49ers even though he was fired before he had a chance to reap the benefits. Davis became one of the NFL's great tight ends and the 49ers went to the NFC championship game after the 2011 season and to the Super Bowl this past season.
Therrien's rant worked with the Penguins. Rob Scuderi and Ryan Whitney were defensemen on his team that night. They became better players. So did Brooks Orpik under Therrien's guidance. The Penguins made their greatest single-season improvement in 2006-07 under Therrien and went to the Stanley Cup final the next season.
But, arguably, no rant worked like Knight's with Lamar. His team went on a six-game winning streak after he unloaded and won the Southland Conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament field.
Ferry should be so fortunate with his Dukes.
First Published February 10, 2013 12:00 am