Favorite coaches in TV/movies
This only includes fictional characters, which eliminates:
— Billy Bob Thornton in Friday Night Lights
— Philip Seymour Hoffman in Moneyball
— Any coach who appeared in a documentary
I also left Norman Dale (Hoosiers) off the list, since he had to be constantly reminded that Jimmy Chitwood could score at will. Even his drunk assistant coach drew up plays for Jimmy.
13) Moreland Smith (One on One)— GD Spradlin plays a college basketball coach who recruits a small-school basketball phenom who struggles to adjust to big-time college ball. Coach Smith tries to run the kid off the team; it ends better for the kid than the coach.
12) Morris Buttermaker (Bad News Bears)— Walter Matthau plays a Little League coach who brings a cooler of beer into the dugout every game; his team is saved by him recruiting a young lady to pitch, and a motorcycle punk who winds up being the best player in the league.
11) Gordon Bombay (The Mighty Ducks)— Emilio Estevez plays a Minnesota lawyer who gets a DUI, is sentenced to community service coaching a youth hockey team that isn’t very good. The Ducks wind up beating the team he played for as a kid, coached by Coach Reilly (Lane Smith, the same actor who lost to Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny)
10) Mick Goldmill (Rocky)— Burgess Meredith played the Penguin in the Batman TV series, but is better known as Rocky Balboa’s boxing trainer. “You’re gonna eat lightnin’; you’re gonna crap thunder!!!”
9) Murray Chadwick (Youngblood)— Ed Lauter plays a junior hockey coach whose daughter likes the star player, but the coach questions if he is tough enough. Lauter also has one of my all-time favorite coaching lines: “I didn’t come halfway to the (bleep)ing Arctic Circle to lose to these goons!!!”
8) Billy Sunday (He Got Game)— John Turturro (Joey Knish in Rounders) plays the coach at Big State, a team trying to recruit Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen). Coach Sunday is only in one scene, but he steals it, trying to convince the star recruit to play for his team.
This is an underrated movie that foretold (20 years before) the problems Louisville’s program would have. Rick Fox plays the Big State player who is the recruit’s mentor for the weekend.
7) Frank Perry (For Love of the Game)— JK Simmons is a Detroit Tigers fan in real life, so this role probably came naturally for him. New York’s manager in this movie is played by Augie Garrido, one of the best-ever college coaches (Cal State-Fullerton, Texas)
6) Hayden Fox (Coach)— Craig T Nelson plays the coach at fictional Minnesota State in one of the two TV series on this list. Nelson is a divorced father whose girlfriend may not be all that crazy about football. Lot of the laughs in this show came from his assistant coach Luther Van Dam, played by Jerry Van Dyke.
5) Lou Brown (Major League)— James Gammon had one of the best-ever voices; he was also Don Johnson’s dad in Nash Bridges. Lou Brown wasn’t a fan of analytics, bringing in Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) in to pitch to Haywood, even after Haywood had homered twice off of him earlier in the movie.
4) Ken Reeves (White Shadow)— Ken Howard was really great as a washed-up NBA player who becomes a high school coach in inner-city Los Angeles, caring as much about his players off the court as he did on it. The uniforms Carver High wears in this show are the same as Howard’s high school team on Long Island wore (in real life).
3) Tony d’Amato (Any Given Sunday)— Al Pacino plays a veteran pro football coach whose owner (Cameron Diaz) doubts him as her team struggles to remain a contender. Pacino gives two great speeches in this game, one to QB Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) and the other before the playoff game in Dallas, the “Game of Inches” speech.
Jim Brown was really good in this as one of coach d’Amato’s assistants, and Lawrence Taylor was one of the Miami Sharks.
2) Pete Bell (Blue Chips)— Nick Nolte hung around Indiana’s program for a while to prep for this role, so lot of the antics we see are stuff Bobby Knight did in real life. Marques Johnson plays one of Western U’s assistants. The scene in the empty gym where coach Bell rebounds for his AD (Bob Cousy) while he shoots foul shots is one of my favorite movie scenes ever.
1) David Greene (Fast Break)— Gabe Kaplan plays the manager of a New York City deli who is also a huge basketball fan; he is offered the coaching job at a small Nevada college, and recruits an odd assortment of players, one of whom is played by NBA great Bernard King. On of his other players is a young lady, playing in disguise.
This movie came out when I was in college; Kaplan was tremendous. For any of us who would’ve loved to have coached for a living, this may have been unrealistic, but it was also inspirational.
Favorite coaches in TV/movies