NBA coaches are making moves now that the season is coming to an end. With that, I was asked which five coaches I have the most respect for that are out of work.
Here are my top five with some honorable mentions below.
1. Chuck Pagano
Last Job: Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts
Current Job: Consultant for NFL
This was an easy choice. Pagano was successful as the head coach for Indianapolis and did so while battling cancer. I think a lot of the early success could be because of Bruce Arians as well, but Pagano had three 11+ win seasons in a row. His ultimate downfall was the lack of a quarterback the last couple of years since Andrew Luck just couldn’t stay healthy. He also couldn’t ever get over the hump of the Patriots in the playoffs…which is something that everyone in the AFC shares for the most part.
He went 56-46 as the head coach of the Colts, with three 11-5 regular seasons to start his tenure there. Pagano also had a long career as a college and pro assistant and overall I don’t think he did too bad with Indy in his only head coaching job.
He is currently working as a consultant for the NFL, but I imagine we might find him back in coaching soon enough.
2. Les Miles
Last Job: Head Coach, LSU Football
Current Job: Analyst, Actor
You have to include Les Miles on a list like this. The dude was goofy, but I really like him. He is 141-55 (72%) overall in his head coaching career including 114-34 (77%) at LSU. He’s got two national championship appearances including one win. People might say that’s because of Nick Saban’s players in 2007, but 2011 was seven years in and all on him.
I think he can still be a good coach. He’s never done anything diabolical as a coach, although he was alleged of misconduct with giving incentives to players at Oklahoma State (even though nothing came of it), and I think he’s a pretty good person overall.
His ultimate downfall was hiring Cam Cameron who did nothing with the offense at LSU. I think he has learned from his time off and if he gets another job, he will ultimately be successful.
3. Andy Kennedy
Last Job: Head Coach, Ole Miss Basketball
Current Job: Nothing
Andy Kennedy is coming off being the Ole Miss head coach for 12 seasons where he led the Rebels to a conference tournament championship and two regular season divisional championships. He also took them to the NCAA tournament twice. Kennedy’s tenure didn’t end well this past season where he coached Ole Miss to an 11-16 record before stepping down. Including his one year at Cincinnati, he amassed a 266-169 record (61.1%) winning 20+ games every season but two (not counting last year).
He has plenty of local ties with his time playing at UAB and coaching at both South Alabama and UAB. I think he can be a good coach still wherever he ends up.
4. John Fox
Last Job: Head Coach, Chicago Bears
Current Job: Monday Night Football studio analyst
John Fox was kicked to the curb by the Bears after last season, but he’s not retiring yet. He is working as a studio analyst for Monday Night Football on ESPN, but we could see him coaching soon. I don’t think he should have ever left the Broncos. He was essentially fired by John Elway even though they said it was a “mutual parting of the ways”. He went into a bad situation with the Bears that never really improved.
Still, he led two different teams to the Super Bowl despite never winning (Carolina in 2003, Denver in 2013). He has been a head coach for 16 years and three different teams. He has a decent coaching tree including Jack Del Rio, Dennis Allen, Mike McCoy and Adam Gase.
5. Bret Bielema
Last Job: Head Coach, Arkansas Football
Current Job: Unidentified role with New England Patriots
I’m still going to say Bielema is out of coaching, despite the fact that he is working unofficially with the Patriots right now. It sounds like his work with them may turn into a permanent role, but he’s still not a “coach” as of right now.
Before his stint at Arkansas he had a somewhat successful run at Wisconsin as a defensive coordinator then head coach. He also was DC at Kansas State and worked as an assistant at his Alma mater Iowa. Arkansas was close to being an alright team a couple of times but they just couldn’t get over the hump of beating teams like Alabama or Texas A&M. Still, you have like what he did at Wisconsin, winning three straight Big Ten titles and making three straight Rose Bowls (despite losing all of them). He went 68-24 at Wisconsin but only 29-34 at Arkansas.
I’d like to see him coaching again. I like his personality, he’s not afraid to take risks and I’ll be interested to see if he ends up an actual NFL coach one day. The Patriots still haven’t replaced Matt Patricia, so we’ll see.
Jack Del Rio (NFL)
Jason Kidd (NBA)
Dwayne Casey (NBA)