Is it about coaches or players?


Is it the players or the coaches?

You tell me.

Players or coaches?

The easy answer is both, of course. Who is responsible for success and failure? Can a good coach get fired because of bad players? Can good players be let down by a bad coach?

I asked Roland Thornqvist, the Florida women’s tennis coach, and he said it takes both.

“What percentage of each, I’ll let the experts decide,” he said.

So who was the worst coach to win because he had great players? And who was the best coach who won despite not having great players?



  1. IMO- It seems that coaches are always the fall guy when things go south, so obviously where the responsibility is focused, whether deserved or not. Being a great coach is a little misleading as compared to being a great evaluator and a believer in a player. A coach can set the atmosphere and example, but can not teach attitude, character, instincts, or intangibles. In recent memory and on a professional level, a perfect example of this is Bill Belichek, btw not a Pats fan. How many times does he routinely assemble a roster with talent undiscovered from other teams? Mid to late rounders or undrafted at all? And yet they compete for championships every year. The worst, or most overrated, Phil Jackson; easy, no Michael, no Kobe, no titles, no roman numeral hats. Pat, you could have won a couple of titles with either of those two guys in their primes.

  2. I agree with the Belichek assessment. One of the best coaches around, maybe ever, and yet he failed with his first head coaching job in the NFL. Failed might be too harsh, but didn’t achieve great success. Was it that he wasn’t as good of a coach then, or were his players that much worse? Was it the assistant coaches around him?
    Tom Coughlin, Tony LaRussa, Greg Popavich, and Jerry Sloan are all excellent coaches regardless of the talent around them.
    In college, and this is probably a homer choice, but Spurrier has to be one of the best to get the most out of his guys. Florida and SC? He did so much in his early years at Florida with a team nobody expected much from.
    I think Patterson at TCU also seems to get the most out of his guys. Top defense every year without the top recruiting classes. Watch out for Franklin if Vandy can keep him around!

    Worst/overrated? Hmmmm, Phil Jackson is probably up there. I actually think he was a very good coach, but overrated b/c of the talent he possessed. I’d go with Kiffin, maybe Dabo. The ultimate failure was Goff!

  3. A solid team can win with mediocre coaches. The best coaches can only go so far without competitive athletes. But a lousy coach can sure lose a bunch even with the best players. The examples above are solid. How about a current events example- Brian Tomlinson at Union County, winning championships in Middle School Football and HS Baseball. He has been highly successful in two different sports in different age groups with a very small talent pool.

  4. Well in football I could win with the right assistant coaches and superior talent. Other sports would be much more difficult.

    Coaches can take lesser talent and win, but without sufficient talent consistant winning won’t occur.

  5. !996 Florida had a handful of great Players, but over-all… Coach Spurrier Coached his butt off that year -in my opinion! And a Coach who had great players, and average Coaching, and still ‘won-it-all’- Les Miles in 2007 with L.S.U.!

  6. When you are making millions (or hundreds of thousands) it’s ok to be the fall guy. That’s what they pay you for. Tougher when it’s a volunteer youth coach who’s getting shellacked because the team didn’t perform up to expectations.