Yankees’ manager, Casey Stengel, was famous for his “Stengelese,” a process which Casey created to answer all reporters’ questions without giving away any important information about the team or his players. Casey even once answered a question by saying, “I’m not going to speak very long today. As you know the last time I spoke, two of the ‘Four Horseman’ (Notre Dame) passed away.” Spurs’ Gregg Popovich reminds me of a present day Stengel. There’s nothing better than watching David Aldridge or Craig Sager questioning “Coach Pop” before or during an NBA game. New York Mets Manager, Terry Collins when asked what it was going to take to win once said, “The only thing left is human sacrifice. So, we’re going to pick somebody.” Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers was a real character when answering the media. I remember seeing him sitting in the Dodger dugout with a large piece of white masking tape over his mouth. Coach Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina was known for heaping lots of praise on his opponent’s team, just after the Tarheels had beaten them by double digits. And of course Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots treats all interviews like the measles.
But my favorite “coach speak” occurred before the season began when the Head Football Coach for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, Steve Spurrier (“The Head Ball Coach,” his words not mine), spoke to some reporters after practice. Picture coach Spurrier in a white golf visor, sunglasses, and standing with his hands behind his back and I quote: “I’ll tell you what; we had another sorry practice today. These guys, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to beat anybody this year. Our quarterbacks, we can’t hit the broadside of a barn right now. I don’t know if we can hit that indoor facility right there, (looking to his right). Receivers, they couldn’t catch a cold if it were the middle of February, dropping everything. Defensive backs, I wondered why they’ve got grass stains all over their jerseys; they fall down about every other play, always two or three of them falling. Our kicker, gee it’s like the Army, left, right, left, right, they’re kicking it all over the place. I don’t know if we can beat anybody this year. Gosh! Leadership, ‘naw’ we don’t have any leaders out here. Guys are soft, they just can’t, I don’t know, maybe I should give them a week off and start over and see if we can regroup and try to find some real tough guys out here. It’s been a struggle this pre-season. It’s been a big struggle and I don’t know if we’re going to beat anybody.” Now that’s funny.
Maybe Spurrier knew in advance that he was at his end. On October 13, 2015, Steve Spurrier, with a record of two wins and four losses resigned immediately. “I was the right coach for this job eleven years ago, but I’m not now.