Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easiest/Scariest Coaches To Fire

Sometimes, sucking it up and losing is the best choice.
Prince and I were having a typically mindless conversation the other day, when the topic of firing head coaches came up. Now, I work in HR, so I've had to have some awkward conversations with people. It isn't easy. Still, I've never had to sit face-to-face with a person and inform them that they are being terminated from their position. Honestly, it doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

Now, imagine that type of situation...except, instead of firing a normal person much like yourself, you're sitting in front of a hyper-competitive NFL head coach who very well might come across the table and rip your throat out (I might be exaggerating). Now THAT sounds like it would suck. Yet, seven owners (or GM's) have already had that awkward encounter this season, fulfilling the time honored tradition of shifting blame to the head coach whether it's truly his fault (Raheem Morris, Steve Spagnuolo) or not (Todd Haley, Hue Jackson).

As Prince and I imagined what this encounter must be like, various names popped into my head as guys I would most definitely NOT want to fire. And so, as I am wont to do, I decided to rank all 30 NFL head coaches from easiest/most pleasant to fire, to hardest/scariest to fire.

Now, before we do this, let's go over the ground rules:

Rule number one: No touching of the hair or face! And that's it!!!

(Seriously though, I have two ground rules.)

1. The list will be comprised of the 32 head coaches from the beginning of the 2011 season. Since they were just fired, I wanted to gauge how difficult that job would have been. Also, I'd feel bad leaving out my reasoning for Jack Del Rio. Mostly that...

2. I'm an idiot and none of this makes any sense at all. Keep that in mind.

Also, no touching of the hair or face. And that really is it!

Honorable Mentions:

These guys are not currently NFL head coaches, but it wouldn't be a proper list if I didn't at least give them a nod.
Jon Gruden
There isn't much more to say here, is there? I believe I'd rather go winless for three straight seasons than risk him morphing into a murderous doll after getting the bad news.

Bill Cowher
The Rooney's were remarkably patient with Cowher during a few lean years in Pittsburgh. Pretty sure I know why...

Wade Phillips
This is actually a real picture of his response! Amazing find!

Herm Edwards
A bit of a wildcard, but I'm pretty sure Herm would be more inclined to give a motivational speech to cheer you up from having to deliver bad news.

And here are the 'would-be' winners of Easiest and Scariest if they were still head coaches...

Tony Dungy
Me: "Tony, I'm sorry, but you're fired."
Dungy: "Let me pray for you."

Tom Cable
This guy punched one of his assistants in the face and broke his jaw! Do you want to deliver bad news to him? Of course, it's all relative considering who was firing him...

OK, let's get to the real rankings:

#32 Jim Caldwell
This one actually happened not that long ago, and I feel certain it was the easiest and quickest meeting of Jim Irsay's life. Seriously, I have yet to see Caldwell speak, or even move...not even one time! I imagine that, upon hearing the bad news, Caldwell sat motionless for upwards of five minutes, staring blankly at Irsay with those sad, empty eyes, before silently getting up and showing himself out of the building. No other scenario sounds remotely plausible to me.

#31 Norv Turner
I'm sure it was easy for Dean Spanos to fire Turner earlier this offseason. Wait, what's that? He's keeping Turner for another year?! WHAT?!? Seriously though, what is Norv gonna say when that day finally does come? How could he even pretend to be upset? Honestly, there's a pretty good chance he's had his office boxed up for the last few seasons.

#30 Marvin Lewis
Lewis doesn't rank as the easiest coach to fire, not because he would be angry at the news, but because the meeting would be difficult for Mike Brown. After all, how would you feel if an employee started celebrating after you fired him?

#29 Chan Gailey
Does this look like a guy you'd be intimidated by? I mean, he didn't even deserve the job to begin with. It's like he won a radio contest or something. 

#28 Mike Smith
Some people claim he's an intense, fiery guy...but then I saw this picture. Also, I saw him wet himself during their playoff game against the Giants. Look, if he starts to get temperamental while you're firing him, just present him with a down and distance riddle. He'll go quietly into the night after that. (Also, you might want to offer him a change of pants)

#27 Lovie Smith
Lovie has two looks; sad, and confused. The meeting will probably last longer than you'd like due to the unnecessary long explanations you'll need to offer him, but there's no reason to sweat him getting mad.

#26 Leslie Frazier
Frazier and Caldwell must have spent some time together somewhere, because I've never seen Frazier open his mouth either. Imagine what would happen if Romeo Crennel were to hire Caldwell as his OC and Frazier as his DC! Pure chaos!

#25 Steve Spagnuolo
I remember him being intense when he was the DC of the Giants, but Spags looked completely and utterly defeated by the end of his St. Louis tenure. Though I'm sure he hurled a few angry retorts about his entire team being placed on IR by Week 7, there really is no reason why he'd object to his being fired. Probably more relieved than anything!

#24 Pat Shurmur
Because just one image of a scared, sad, and dejected Pat Shurmur just wasn't enough. By the way, I'm pretty sure that last photo came AFTER he found out about Brad Childress. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Cleveland Browns!

#23 Mike Munchak
Honestly, I didn't watch a single Titans game this year (why would I?), so I have no idea whether this guy is crazy or not. Honestly, I don't care. I just want him off my list so I can move on. In fact, we're starting to get to that boring part of the list where the coaches aren't necessarily push-overs, but they aren't the crazed murderer type either. Let's blow through some of these.

#22 Ron Rivera
Gotta love it when a team hires a defensive coach, only to see the defense singlehandedly tank their playoff chances. 

#21 John Fox
Far too predictable and conservative to be much of a problem. Also, he has one of the best 'confused' faces in the game. Not sure if that means anything, but worth noting...mostly because I hate him.

#20 Mike McCarthy
If Fox does one of the best "I'm really confused" looks in the league, then McCarthy does one of the best "I'm really hungry and I've just spotted a delicious looking bratwurst in the front row" looks. Not like he has to focus on the game, what with Aaron Rodgers doing everything.

#19 Jason Garrett
Look, gingers are notoriously unpredictable (and rumored to be soulless), so this meeting could turn disastrous at any point. But really, how hard would it be to fire Garrett after some of the dumb stuff he did this year. HE ICED HIS OWN KICKER!!! (Note: Obviously, I would take great pleasure in firing him. Wouldn't even feel bad.)

#18 Gary Kubiak
It's not so much the yelling that would give me pause, it's the insane widow's peak! Can't be easy to fire a guy who looks like Eddie Munster! In the words of our friend, Nick Laney, "I'd be worried that he'd cut me with that thing!" Well said, Laney. Well said.

#17 Raheem Morris
Morris is younger and more physically capable than most head coaches, which is really the only reason he doesn't rank in the 20's. Really, what's Raheem gonna say? Like losing 10 games in a row by an average margin of 87.9 PPG (approximate) isn't reason enough to get canned?

#16 Tony Sparano
Since I couldn't decide if the glasses made it easier or harder to fire him, I decided to put him right in the middle. 

#15 Ken Whisenhunt
He's got a pretty intimidating look to him, which would at least give me pause before going into the meeting. But, while I would expect to be reamed over giving him Derek Anderson and Kevin Kolb to work with, I would expect that a couple years of Kurt Warner would make us even. All in all, the meeting is probably heated for awhile, but nothing too problematic. (Am I thinking about this too hard?)

#14 Sean Payton
Payton would typically rank a bit higher, since he gets a bit crazy every now and then. But with the guy only a few months removed from a major knee injury, there really isn't much to fear other than a verbal beating. Gotta be able to do more than that to get in the top ten!

#13 Pete Carroll
Carroll is a really intense guy, and the initial anger over being fired would likely be quite a fire storm of expletives and verbal barbs. However, once he calms down and realizes that he can just go back to college and buy a few more championships, I expect everything to be OK.

#12 Mike Shanahan
It really is unbelievable how red this guy can get. That alone makes this a potentially terrifying meeting.

#11 Hue Jackson
Call this one a hunch more than anything, but I feel like Hue Jackson could be quite an angry fellow given the right circumstances. We've seen him flash that type of anger on the sidelines, but I'm under the belief that he has a whole other level that we've yet to see. Plus, he worked for Al Davis, which means that he's had excellent training in being an evil monster.

#10 Tom Coughlin
I'd feel nervous giving Coughlin news of a pay raise, much less news of him being fired! If he were 10 years younger, he'd be a strong contender for the top spot. Alas, he's very old, and probably very drunk.

#9 John Harbaugh
Gotta respect the sheer amount of anger he has in him, but he definitely lacks in overall intimidation. Still, I wouldn't want to be the guy delivering bad news.

#8 Andy Reid
You're sitting at your desk, you're delivering bad news, and Andy Reid is between you and the door. And it's lunch time. You figure out the rest.

#7 Mike Tomlin
Whoops! Wrong picture...let's try again.
I'd be very worried about those eyes popping out of his head and stabbing me in the temples. Very.

#6 Rex Ryan
You're sitting at your desk, you're delivering bad news, and Rex Ryan...oh wait, I did this one before. Look, as much as I despise Rex Ryan, I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of his verbal tirades. There would likely be lots of swearing, lots of derogatory statements, and far too many inferences to feet. Not interested. That having been said, and this goes for Andy Reid too, if I can slip away from him, there's no way he's catching me. At least I won't be physically harmed.

Quick question: If Rex Ryan gets fired, does he still predict a Super Bowl at the press conference?

#5 Todd Haley
Haley had quite the reputation in Kansas City, and was reportedly fired mostly because he was extremely difficult to work with. Part of that was due to his out of control temper. Suffice it to say, I'm sure that meeting wasn't overly cordial. Also, he looks like a mass murderer. Best case scenario has you firing him, enduring a rough verbal beating, and suffering from the onset of a severe anxiety disorder. Worst case scenario has you firing him, enduring a rough verbal beating, and being brutally murdered in your home late one night. Either way, it's not good.

#4 Jack Del Rio
Before dismissing Del Rio as just a typical anger-ridden former football player who will deliver a harsh verbal lashing, remember that this is the same guy who brought an axe into his locker room, nearly resulting in his punter losing a leg. Just sayin'...

#3 Bill Belichick
Not overly imposing physically, doesn't really go crazy on the sidelines, so what is there to worry about? Hey, sometimes it's the quiet ones you need to watch out for. Whether it's the SpyGate scandal or the secretive way he's dealt with the injury report, Belichick has proven to be a crafty schemer. The meeting might seem to go well, but don't be shocked if your entire life falls apart around you...or if you find yourself on the wrong end of a car bomb.

#2 Jim Schwartz
I started to put Belichick ahead of Schwartz...then I saw this picture. And a whole lot more just like it. This guy is an absolute nut job, and I'd literally fear for my life if I had to fire him. 

#1 Jim Harbaugh
Thank goodness he's an amazing coach, because it would be a likely death sentence to send him packing. Harbaugh is every bit as angry as Schwartz is, except he's also about four times the size and strength. If you ask me, "The Handshake" fight was broken up far too quickly, and we need a real resolution to this. I, for one, would gladly drop $60 to watch that fight on Pay-Per-View. Of course, thanks to the NFL schedule makers, I don't have to, as a rematch has been scheduled for 2012. Until such time as Schwartz forcibly takes his crown, Harbaugh reigns supreme as the most terrifying coach in the NFL.


  1. Dude, the moment I saw that you were making this list, I just assumed I would end up seeing Schwartz at #1. I am a little surprised Harbaugh beat him out, but hey, who can really tell the two apart? For what it's worth though, I think I'd take Harbaugh over Schwartz. Heck, you'd have to pay me upwards of $1 million just to be the guy who informs Schwartz that the waiter forgot his side of ranch.

  2. Also, this is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Brilliant idea!

  3. Thanks! You can never imagine how much fun I had writing this.

  4. We've always enjoyed our lists... BTW I watched the South Park episode "The List" the other day and it made me kinda sad.