Few sports produce the same intense range of emotions as football. The All-American game can make you feel joy, anger, fear, envy, love, and indignation – and that’s just when you’re picking your fantasy team. The game itself is so emotionally charged that it can leave grown men speechless and reduce 6’7”, 350-pound linebackers to sobbing messes. Who can forget the tears shed by Ray Lewis in his last game in Baltimore, or the expletive-filled emotional outbursts of fiery coaches like Herm Edwards and Dennis Green? We’re embracing football’s emotional roller coaster — which continued last weekend in Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota — by setting the odds for the biggest rants, sideline blow-ups, and ugly altercations in the NFL and the NCAA.
Buckle up – it could get bumpy!
The Seahawks have made a habit of infighting, and then they added Sheldon Richardson to the roster. Washington looks primed for a down year, something that won’t sit well with the likes of Josh Norman. (More on him below.) OBJ’s presence on the Giants sideline will always lead to potential drama, while terriblness’ presence on the Jets sideline could do the same East Rutherford’s second-favorite team.
As for Beckham, we’re counting kicking nets as “teammates.”
Gone are the Rex Ryans, Jim Harbaughs, and Jim Moras. In their place, level-headed logicians like Kyle Shanahan (49ers), Sean McVay (Rams), Sean McDermott (Bills), and Anthony Lynn (Chargers). And while there is still one Harbaugh in the league, it’s the calm one (John, Ravens).
For the most mart, the coaches at the top of the list are the ones who are likely to get frustrated by talented rosters that underperform. Ergo, no Todd Bowles (Jets). Chuck Pagano (Colts) just seemed defeated after his team was (what’s worse than defeated? Humiliated? That works) humiliated by the Rams.
O’Brien is about as animated a coach as there is left in the league, and he’s about as mercurial as a lava lamp. The biggest longshots? Garrett and Caldwell, who might as well hail from Vulcan.
Chuck Pagano’s seat is a whole lot hotter this week after the Colts got eviscerated by the Rams (the Rams) in a 46-9 laugher. The heavily scrutinized coach is now 16-17 over the last three seasons and hasn’t led Indy to the playoffs since 2014. Mike Mularkey, John Fox, and Jay Gruden all had rough weeks as well, and Todd Bowles … well, he just has the misfortune of coaching the Jets. It wouldn’t be surprising to see any of these embattled coaches in a broadcasting booth before December.
Scott Tolzien (Colts) and Tom Savage (Texans) were already benched in Week 1. They won’t be the last starters to find themselves on the pine.
The Jets, as a franchise, don’t want to win games this year. That makes Josh McCown’s job a little safer. They would like to know if Christian Hackenberg and/or Bryce Petty should remain on the roster next season, however, which means getting them some more game-action at some point this year.
Don’t be fooled by Jacksonville’s dominant Week 1 performance against Houston. That was all defense and the running game, and it went to show that the team only needs average QB play to win games. If Bortles can’t provide that and the Jags fall off, Chad Henne (gross) will get his turn.
Manning would be higher on this list if there was any remotely serviceable option behind him on the depth chart. He is making a mockery of what should be a great receiving corps – and has been for the better part of a year – but Geno Smith and Davis Webb don’t exactly scream, “put me in coach!”
Unlike baseball, there really is crying in football. Knowshon Moreno’s tear-soaked face is still being used on memes more than four years after he was spotted crying on the sidelines. The next meme-worthy crier is likely to be temperamental wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants star missed Week 1 due to an ankle injury and is sure to make up for lost time with an emotionally-charged interview during his next post-gamer. We’ve also included lesser known Jaguars wideout Marqise Lee on our list because having Blake Bortles as your QB is enough to make anyone cry.
Don’t be fooled by the lengthiness of the YouTube videos; most of that is build-up and follow-up. These things tend to clock in around the 35-second mark. Even the fabled Dennis Green rant clocked in at well under a minute. But when something really gets a guy’s goat, he can wax irate for a while.
(NB: the odds above assume that a fan-base will boycott its team at some point. That scenario, itself, is not likely to happen. But if it does, those are the favorites.)
The 2017 season could turn out to be a fascinating social experiment in Oakland. Will the team’s notoriously hardcore fans continue to support the Raiders, or will they stay away in droves since the franchise is splitting for Sin City? Their loyalty – and patience – are about to be put to the test. Both L.A. teams have also landed on our list due to the city’s nonchalant relationship with professional football. The Rams and Raiders both gave football a shot in the City of Angels only to leave for greener pastures elsewhere. It wouldn’t be surprising if the city’s famously fickle fans send a message to the league by heading to the beach rather than the stadium, especially if they’re out of playoff contention later in the year.
Nobody screams at their eighth ineffective offense in a row with quite the verve of Will Muschamp. His is a seething, deeply felt anger, less volume than pure venom, but also: plenty of volume. It’s hard to hold Muschamp’s meltdowns against him, as he’s elevated the genre and you can’t begrudge an artist for his medium. He’s the favorite in this category by a long shot.
Brian Kelly loves to jump down people’s throats, because when you’re being paid seven figures to coach one of the biggest programs in the country to eight losses you need to make it look like someone else is to blame. He’s not really a screamer, he prefers to passive-aggressively blame everyone but himself for his team’s woes, which is why he’s almost universally reviled. He’d be a great candidate for our firing odds, if Notre Dame hadn’t signed him to a six-year extension at the beginning of the (again, 4-8) 2o16 season,.
Where Brian Kelly likes to scream at his players, Jim Harbaugh is more prone to screaming at the officials. Tensions are going to be high this year for Michigan, as they have a tightrope walk to the Playoff that requires a few very tricky games to go their way.
Our sleeper pick Ed Orgeron has gone a long way to reinventing himself, no longer challenging referees, his own players, and journalists to fight him. It’s a soft and cuddly Ed Orgeron, one who loves his players, maintains his composure, and tries to project positivity.
The most recent post-game rant in college football comes from Dabo Swinney, who called Colin Cowherd a fraud, fired at Heisman Trophy voters for missing out on Deshaun Watson, and generally revelled in his righteous indignation and sweet, sweet vindication. He’s liable to get going again: his Clemson Tigers aren’t favored by the media to win the national title again, and they’ve spent the first two weeks of the season beating people to sleep. A lot of analysts wrung their hands about losses in the front seven and what the Auburn offense could do to Clemson, after which Jarrett Stidham was sacked 11 times.
A good pick, depending on how we define “rant.” PJ Fleck is incapable of negativity, so the anger you’re probably wanting isn’t there, but the word count, the tempo, the frenzied stream of consciousness that says more about the speaker than the subject? Oh yeah. We’re sure there’s video of him somewhere being asked the difference between a gaff and a sloop rigging that will make you want to run through a brick wall.
A bad pick here. Post-game is Saban at his most serene. For him, winning a football game is a goal, and you either achieve it or you fall short. There’s no tension in the aftermath, only finality. All of his best rants come midweek, or in the context of a game to come, and usually have a theme relevant to what the blank sucking nullity at the centre of his being howls at him whenever he’s in a quiet room. Don’t get complacent. Do things the right way. Right is never wrong.
Mike Gundy has mostly gotten out of the game, and it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to write scathing articles about Mason Rudolph’s attitude. Gundy’s chilled out, he’s grown a mullet, and his biggest job is dealing with T Boone and convincing Mason Rudolph that every play doesn’t have to be a deep ball.
Kevin Sumlin knows he has to win in 2017. His AD said so, right there on national television. He responded in the most disappointing possible way, by blowing a big lead to UCLA in the first game of the season and not exactly stunning against Nicholls State. The only thing that can save him now is another win against Alabama, and that’s looking less likely by the day. The Aggies should have fired him last season, then dropped a Brinks truck on Tom Herman before Texas could get him. Get the timing right so that Texas lets Charlie Strong go but has to hire Les Miles or something. Just because you don’t play football games doesn’t mean you can’t have an incredibly petty, bitter football rivalry.
Todd Graham’s Arizona State Sun Devils were 5-7 last year, look like they’ll be 5-7 next year, and are generally failing to live up to expectations. A strong front seven is let down by a porous secondary that doesn’t look promising in 2017. Arizona State didn’t hire Graham with goals of maybe making a bowl game and after six years there can’t be much left on his contract.
It’s a race between the Arizona schools to fire their coaches and hire – Siri who’s the coach at Boise? – Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin to turn their ailing programs around. Rich Rodriguez went 3-9 in 2016, haven’t come close to the division title since their win in 2014, and watched their entire 2016 recruiting class vanish. Rodriguez doesn’t have allies in Tucson, the AD that hired him is gone and the man who replaced him has to be asking some uncomfortable questions.
Tennessee is one of the most insane, high expectations fan bases in college football. The Vols are expected to be national championship contenders every year, and Butch Jones hasn’t been able to deliver anything close to that, other than vague platitudes and excuses. These are the people that kicked Phil Fulmer to the curb for Lane Kiffin and haven’t recovered yet.
No matter how you look at Kliff Kingsbury’s Texas Tech record, it’s not good. Out of conference is bad. In conference is worse. The failure to win anything of value while Pat Mahomes was on the roster. The awful, frustrating defense. The Red Raiders were happy to take a risk on Kingsbury when he was a young OC with an exciting passing attack and dashing good looks. Now he’s a less-young head coach with a bad record and no clear path forward.
This is a fun one, because big name coaches generally don’t cry until the postseason. Dabo cried, but only in January. So we need an emotional coach who preferably doesn’t have championship ambitions to win a huge game as soon as possible. Ed Orgeron’s LSU team beating Alabama on November 4th could do it. Mike Gundy beating OU on the same date could also do it.
Are we talking word count or speaking time here? If it’s the latter, Saban’s your guy. He’ll go five minutes about proper punt coverage, NCAA camp rules, maintaining a lasting marriage, the 2007 loss to ULM, and whatever else. Give the man a podium to slap and a bottle of Coca-Cola™ and ask the wrong question, then make sure you’ve got enough spare batteries for you recording device.
PJ Fleck is king of word count. He’ll also make up a few on the way, as his rhetorical style consists mostly of:
And in the last two minutes he’s said three thousand words, laid out a more accurate model for mapping oil spill trajectory in ice-covered waters, and changed your life in a non-specific but still meaningful way.
If time spent clarifying, restating, and translating counts, Ed Orgeron is a clear winner. Ed Orgeron speaks a language that linguists insist died when the small village it was spoken in was overtaken by the Mongol Horde. Nobody is ever sure what Orgeron is actually saying, only that his inflection makes clear he’s very serious about it and that they agree with it.
Our attention spans are shorter now. We don’t read books anymore, we watch movies sped up, video games are ceaseless, attention deficit disorder instilling madhouses from moment to moment. A coach can’t blather on for an hour anymore and still hope to engage the ‘croots. For this reason, we’re setting the O/U at a tasteful 1.5 minutes.
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