That rumours would swirl concerning the future of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was a given. But massive, fiery advertisements calling for his dismissal? Now that’s innovative. And well deserved.
Hours before the talented-on-paper yet woeful-on-the-field Bucs went 0-7 to solidify their place with Jacksonville in the NFL’s toilet, a local radio station in Tampa put up 19 massive billboards calling for Schiano’s dismissal.
Those FIRE SCHIANO billboards, set on a backdrop presumably intended to conjure thoughts of the fires of Hades, got us thinking: Has a coach ever been vilified quite like this? And, when the lever is finally pulled and Schiano drops back to the obscure college ranks where he belongs, will he go down as the worst coach in recent sports history—or only one of the worst?
The case for Schiano: When the Bucs hit 0-6 last week, we chronicled the litany of petty, tyrannical moves Schiano has made in a futile attempt to make his NFL team conform to the dictatorial environment where he ruled at Rutgers. Things have only gotten worse since then.
Ex-players have compared playing for Schiano to “being in Cuba,” and have been downright mean about his height, labeling him with “small [man’s] syndrome.” Heck, even Peyton Manning reportedly lost it on Schiano last season after the coach ordered his Bucs to blitz the Broncos QB on a kneel-down play. Peyton’s lost it before—but apparently this time he cursed. “Peyton cussed him out,” former Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett told NFL.com. “And I ain’t never heard Peyton cuss.”
The staph infection that’s hit three Bucs sure doesn’t help matters. No, we’re not blaming Schiano for that. It’s just that everybody talks about the Football Gods punishing hubris…and no NFL coach has more of that. The only thing that could have possibly made this situation worse would have been Josh Freeman succeeding wildly instead of failing spectacularly on Monday Night Football. So…expect that to happen soon.
The other nominees for the award? Well, Bobby Valentine wasn’t exactly popular when he led the Boston Red Sox to their worst record in nearly 50 years last season, a year that coincided, unfortunately, with the 100th year anniversary of Fenway Park.
Like the Bucs, the Red Sox had a capable roster—Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Big Papi and John Lester all come to mind. Bobby V publicly ripped his players. You probably don’t want to go on record saying Youklis isn’t “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.” Maybe take that up with Kevin?
Soccer, too, has provided a few good players-against-coach revolts. During the 2010 World Cup, mid-way through a dismal run, France refused to get off the team bus at the training ground to practice for coach Raymond Domenech after he dismissed striker Nicolas Anelka. He was sent home because he reportedly told coach: “Go f— yourself.” He said some other stuff, too; it’s surprisingly even less printable. And Anelka’s teammates stood by him, well, because they were probably thinking the same thing. Or something close to it.
This year, Sunderland AFC players went over the head of manager Paolo Di Canio to complain about his “campaign of fear” and “brutal” regime. Then he was fired. It was one of the quickest hire-to-fire stints in Barclay’s Premier League History; Paulo was in charge for 13 matches. During that time he banned ketchup, mayo and coffee before practices. Coke with ice was off limits the night before a game. Coke sans ice? A-OK. And on game day? No singing.
So the good news is, Schiano has plenty of company in the hate category.
But when it comes to a winner? Schiano has failed in more spectacular fashion than any of the challengers, taking a roster many thought had the potential to at least challenge for a playoff spot and turned them into a flaming dumpster fire of football ineptitude. The straw that broke the award committee’s deadlock? That Schiano traded the 13th overall pick in last April’s NFL draft for the rights to Darrelle Revis, the best one-on-one coverage defensive back in football, only to play him in zone schemes that don’t let him match up with the other team’s top receiver. If Bobby Valentine had put Kevin Youkilis in centre field, he might have had a shot…but no dice.
And, of course, Schiano made Peyton Manning swear.