NFL's Worst Coach Hires Since '84
SI's Joe Posnanski made the case last year that Eric Mangini might have been the worst coaching hire in the last 25 years. Not the worst coach, but the worst hire. Here are his thoughts on some of the others he considered and a few reader suggestions on guys who fit the description.
The Raiders should have their own category when it comes to terrible NFL coach hires. But even this hire to me is not as insulting and infuriating as the Mangini hire. I mean, everyone in New York -- players, fans, media members, everyone -- DESPISED Mangini. I mean, I'm still wondering who in New York Mangini could have put down as a reference.
No way. Not even close. Spurrier turned out to be a horrible NFL coach, but the hire itself was exciting and had every chance to work. NFL teams were falling over each other to hire Spurrier as a head coach. This isn't even in the same ballpark as the Mangini hire.
Admittedly this was a dreadful hire ... but there's no way it comes close to Mangini. Shell is a Raiders legend, a Hall of Famer player, who was also the first African American coach in the NFL (well, second, going back to Fritz Pollard in the 1920s). He actually coached the Raiders to three playoff appearances in five years in his first stint. True, when the Raiders hired him the second time he clearly had lost his coaching marbles ... but there's no way that's as bad a hire as Mangini.
Well ... maybe. The whole process of hiring Zorn was nutty, and it's pretty clear he was overmatched. But Jim Zorn was a fine and fun quarterback, so at least he had that going for him. Plus he had not just been fired as a head coach.
Well, this hire has many of the same problems as the Mangini hire -- Kotite had just been canned, nobody liked him, and so on. But at least Kotite was a New Yorker who had played in the NFL and he had a winning record as a coach. This WAS bad ... I think Mangini was worse.
This turned out to be a disastrous hire ... but I don't think it was considered bad at the time. Petrino was one of the hottest names in college football.
Whew, yeah, that's a bad hire. But, again, at least he was hired from within and he had not just been canned.
He was considered a bright young coordinator when the Lions hired him. Plus, he lasted two years with the Lions (long enough to elect to kick off in overtime).
Bad hire, of course, but he was a longtime assistant coach who had success in various other places. He'd coached in high school, in college, he was offensive coordinator for the Vikings and Dolphins. I don't think the hire itself compares to Mangini, though I certainly feel the Rams fans pain of having to endure two and a half seasons with him as coach.
Reader Suggestion: "Ray Handley was the worst coaching hire of all time. The man had never been a head coach at any level when hired by the Giants to take over from Bill Parcells. In one of the most baffling moves of all time, George Young picked Handley over Bill Belichick. Of course, Belichick went on to stink in his first head coaching job with the Browns, but it was still a colossally bad decision by Young. Handley inherited the Super Bowl winners and then proceeded to go 8-8 and 6-10 in his two years at the helm of the Giants."
Reader Suggestion: "I know Cincinnati is a backwater in the NFL and heaven knows I am still trying to forget the 1990's, but if there is one thing we do well here in Cin-city it is making bad hiring (and drafting) choices.My nominee: Dave Shula. He had no experience as a head coach and he had been unsuccessful as an offensive coordinator for Jimmy Johnson. The results: 19-53."