South Carolina is in the Final Four, we’re hailing the SEC as a basketball conference and Tim Tebow is playing baseball. Yeah, 2017 has been a weird year.
Following Brad Underwood’s one-and-done stint as Oklahoma State basketball coach, we were treated to another strange story: OSU alumnus Doug Gottlieb’s brief public dalliance as a candidate for the Cowboys’ job.
Star athletes returning to coach their alma maters isn’t anything new. In the SEC alone, we’ve seen triumphant returns from Steve Spurrier, Phil Fulmer, Bear Bryant, Shug Jordan and others. Kirby Smart and Barry Odom have continued the trend. But rarely does anyone jump directly into a head coaching gig from the media world.
Oklahoma State never hired Gottlieb, of course, but the mere possibility of that happening inspired SEC Country to conduct a little exercise: Picking 14 famous alumni who should coach at their alma maters.
Some actually would make good leaders; others likely would be colossal failures, but earned the nod for comedic potential. Please, don’t take this too seriously.
Auburn: Jimmy Buffett
Yes, yes, 100 times yes. What better successor to Gus Malzahn’s quarterback shuffling and perplexing play calls than a musician whose hits include “I Don’t Know“?
In it, Buffett already has captured the core essence of Auburn’s 2016 offense. And with such basic lyrics, it’s clear he also recognizes the value of simplicity.
In sharp contrast to Malzahn, who maybe has a tendency to micromanage, Buffett is cool with whatever you want to do. Step 1: Delegate everything to the assistants. Step 2:
Margarita Mondays. What blue-chip prospect would say no to that? Baby Boomer donations would skyrocket, and we’d be “treated” to so many great new Buffett songs.
No-huddle in paradise
Spider 2 Y Banana’d be nice
Cam’s little brother signed for a low price
Time for a double whiskey on ice
Honorable mention: Charles Barkley, who lost points because he has a higher calling: Playing LaVar Ball 1-on-1, preferably in a place where the rest of the country can watch. Two knuckleheads going at it!
*Note: Buffett began his college career at Auburn but finished it at Southern Mississippi.
Alabama: Dabo Swinney
This feels a little too real, no?
When Nick Saban retires — that has to eventually happen, we think… maybe — all eyes will naturally drift toward the man who just thwarted Alabama’s legendary coach in a title game.
Stylistically, Dancin’ Dabo would represent quite the change in approach from Saban, the often-dour, staunch adherent to Bill Belichick’s “do your job” school of coaching. Then again, if Alabama can withstand three years of Lane Kiffin, nothing should be too shocking to that program’s culture, and Swinney would have no problem keeping the Crimson Tide’s recruiting machine chugging full speed ahead.
Arkansas: John Daly
Sober or not, Daly would make a fine coach, and watching him trade verbal jabs with Bret Bielema would be a treat.
The pro golfer’s Wild Thing offense would demand at least 10 fullback handoffs and 25 go routes per game. But any lack of football experience would be made up for by the mere fact that John Daly is on the sideline.
Just slap a PG-13 rating on Arkansas football, because Uncle John is coming home, baby.
Honorable mention: Savvy Shields, the 2017 Miss America winner with a fantastic name.
LSU: Shaquille O’Neal
Step aside Will Wade, for there can be no other. Shaq Daddy, the Big Diesel, returning to lead LSU basketball back to its glory days would be the best story ever.
Imagine Shaq and Ed Orgeron in the same room. Imagine the marketing opportunities. *Insert smiling Shaq holding a box of Raising Cane’s chicken fingers here.* But mostly, imagine how much better the Tigers could be with an NBA superstar on the sideline.
Sure, LSU of all places knows the perils of hiring a coach who can recruit but can’t really coach. Since Shaq has never coached, though, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Honorable mention: Baton Rouge rapper Dee-1, who wrote a song about paying back student loans.
Ole Miss: John Grisham
Grisham actually went to both Mississippi State (undergraduate) and Ole Miss (law school), but we’re shipping him to the Rebels because they could use the legal expertise.
When this months-long NCAA investigation finally does draw to a close, Grisham would be the perfect person to chronicle every step of the school’s battle. Few writers help their readers truly understand the feeling of endless, mind-numbing legal purgatory quite like Grisham.
Mississippi State: Jonathan Papelbon
The prospect of Papelbon, possibly the angriest and most unstable man in a sport full of them, leading any collection of young athletes sounds frighteningly irresponsible. In fact, this might be the worst idea we’ve ever had.
Within two months of living in Starkville, it’s highly likely Papelbon would be barred from the Mississippi State campus. But those two months would be a wonderful, Kenny Powers-caliber train wreck.
Texas A&M: George H.W. Bush
Few things are more Texas than an oil man who parlayed his business wealth into great political success. H-Dubya did just that, and even lived in Odessa, Texas — home of the real Friday Night Lights football team — while doing it.
Bush may be 92 years old and only holds an honorary degree from Texas A&M, but few men have greater influence in the Lone Star State. This Tom Herman aggression will not stand, man.
Georgia: Bill Goldberg
When Kirby Smart loses his luster (*looks around, ducks*), Bulldogs fans will renew their clamoring for toughness and hard-nosed Georgia football.
Enter Goldberg, who in addition to being a pretty good defensive tackle, can probably still throw down a jackhammer with the best of them. You can see the influence he’s had on the football program as recently as 2012:
Honorable mention: REM frontman Michael Stipe. Little-known fact: “Losing My Religion” is about being a Georgia football fan.
Florida: Erin Andrews
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of 25 5-star teenagers committing to Florida at once. Gator fans, your recruiting woes are no more.
On top of that, Andrews is tough: she refused to miss work while undergoing cancer treatment. What football player wouldn’t respect that?
Honorable mention: That guy who plays baseball now.
Tennessee: Peyton Manning
Bringing Papa Peyton back to coach at Rocky Top has been discussed daily on every Tennessee message board out there since the moment Manning retired. So let’s give the people what they want, and ideally cut down on the corny Butch sayings in the process.
Honorable mention: Woody Paige, who will always be Around the Horn’s GOAT.
South Carolina: Darius Rucker
Clearly, the man loves him some Gamecock basketball, but we think he’d be better suited for football given his game-changing receiving skills (see below).
Rucker already will be on campus this spring for a concert. Just tell him to stick around for, say, a few years afterward. Will Muschamp still can coach defense and handle recruiting. But the program needs Rucker around to keep Muschamp at a simmering level of rage, and not “nose bleed” angry.
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) April 11, 2015
Kentucky: Pat Riley
The legendary NBA coach never patrolled a sideline at the college level, but to be honest, it probably wouldn’t look much different than John Calipari’s one-and-done NBA factory.
Winning a college national title would place Riley in an interesting position, too: He’d join Larry Brown as the only other basketball coach to win the NCAA Tournament and the NBA title. Could Riley, whose Kentucky team infamously lost to Texas Western in the 1966 championship game, finish what he couldn’t as a Wildcats player?
Missouri: The ghost of Tennessee Williams
One of the famous playwright’s signature works, The Glass Menagerie, features a main character (Amanda) who is an over-the-hill Southern belle yearning for the glory days of her youth. That basically sums up the current state of Mizzou basketball, winner of just four NCAA Tournament games since 2004. We’ll see if the Cuonzo Martin match-making attempt works out.
Besides that analogy, which is admittedly a stretch, I have no idea how the now-deceased Tennessee Williams is in any way qualified to coach at Missouri. It just feels right.
Vanderbilt: Al Gore
You won’t find a better pairing on this list: Gore, political doormat shouting at clouds, guiding the SEC’s athletic doormat. Both are buried in their books, and like the Commodores, Gore is also well-acquainted with heartbreaking, confounding losses in the state of Florida.
**As a matter of technicality, we should note that while Gore attended Vanderbilt law school, he did not graduate; he left in 1976 to run for U.S. Congress.