January 8, 2012

Was "Phil Jackson to Mike Brown" the biggest drop in coaching talent in sports history?

Serious question here. To watch the Lakers this season is to watch the Cleveland Cavs from 3 years ago. Good talent, defensively sound, absolutely no identity. And the players barely acknowledge the coach's existence. But that got me thinking... have we ever seen a drop-off in talent like this? Let's take a look:

Tony Dungy to Jim Caldwell
One speaks eloquently and understands the game of football. The other one closes his mouth only when he tastes a lemon.

Bill Parcells to Wade Phillips
Oh dear. The look on Wade Phillips' face is one of complete confusion 98% of the time. The other 2% are when he is giggling like a school-boy because some White Boy Roy from Sconnie returns a pick for 6. Either way, Parcells wins in every single category, especially brain cells.

Flip Saunders to Kevin McHale 
Here's some home-town flavor. Was there a single smart person in the world who thought this was a good move? I remember this news was broken to me by Mr. Driznewski at a drinking establishment wherein he happened to be working as a bouncer. It was announced through grit teeth. Anger was high, and we all knew where it would lead: 6 years (and counting!) of utter irrelevance and failure. Flip has gone on to have an uneven career, but McHale has gone on to be the most worthless person, ever.

Dick Vermeil to Mike Martz
Sure, Martz made it back to the Big Bowl. But the look on his face should tell you all you need to know. Confusion, 24 hours a day. Plus, at every stop since, he's been an utter failure, and has left the organization in worse standing than when he got there.

Mike Holmgren to Ray Rhodes 
The Packers had to replace a Super Bowl winning coach when he bolted suddenly. Instead of hiring someone smart, they went with Ray Rhodes. He inherited one of the best teams in the NFL and went 8-8, their only non-winning season in 12 years.

Terry Ryan to Bill Smith 
Not a coaching change, but this had to be one of the biggest drops in front-office talent ever recorded. Terry Ryan was good at the following things: evaluating talent, planning for the future, trading for prospects, drafting, signing contracts, keeping payroll manageable. Bill Smith was good at the following things: eating donuts.

Phil Jackson to Tim Floyd 
This was the first Phil retirement, and it sure did bode well for the Bulls. In one season, they lost Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. They got Tim Floyd and a decade of failure instead.

And that brings us to Fail City. Is it as bad? At first, I have to think that the fall-off between Phil and Tim was worse, but time's going to tell on this one. With every Laker game I watch, I see Mike Brown becoming more and more of a laugher on the sidelines. If they miss the playoffs this year, it will be the greatest thing ever. I wouldn't put it past them.

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