Mike Rice, Jr., recently fired as coach of the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights basketball team, had “anger management issues,” said the school’s athletic director, who did the firing after trying unsuccessfully to rehabilitate the contentious coach.
If you believe the videos going around the Internet purportedly showing him taking out his apparently unmanageable temper on his players by hitting them with basketballs, you might think, “Why did it take Rutgers so long to let him go?”
If he had been winning games, they might have tried to hang on to him for a while and hire a psychologist to straighten him out. But his record was 44-51 in three seasons, and an even worse 16-38 in Big East Play.
Another basketball coach who had a bad temper, Bobby Knight of the University of Indiana Hoosiers, was known for anger outbursts that included throwing a folding chair across a court during one game. Knight’s record at Indiana during his 29 years as coach there was 662-239, a .735 winning percentage, but when Knight’s teams began losing in the middle and late 1990s he was eventually fired over his tempestuous attitude.
But there is another model for coaching, and that is of John Wooden, who won 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years as head coach at UCLA. In his head-coaching career, he won 664 games and lost only 162, a .804 winning percentage. Truly he was a winner, but he also was a gentleman. He was considered the greatest motivator in basketball, and was widely sought after as an inspirational speaker. What came from his mouth was different than what came from the mouth of Knight.
Bobby Knight: “When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass!”
John Wooden: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
Bobby Knight: “I don’t have to wait until the next morning to regret something I did that was kinda dumb.“
John Wooden: “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
Bobby Knight: “If I were in charge, I’d drug test all you sons of b------, not just the athletes."
John Wooden: “If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.”
As for Rice, it appears he had nothing much to say except admitting his getting fired was his own fault.
So ... which of these three men would you want to coach your son, or yourself, for that matter?