Randy Smith: Can Coaches Really Go Too Far?

Thursday, February 27, 2014
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse said earlier this week, “There’s no question I went too far. In my mind, the game was over. That was really the call that got to me.” Boeheim’s comments came on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” on Wednesday after he was hit with a pair of technical fouls and was ejected from the fourth-ranked Orange’s game with Duke on Saturday.

I’m sure you’ve seen the video of Coach Boeheims’ explosion near the end of the game following a charging call against his team. He ran out on the floor pulling his navy sport coat up over his neck, as if in a futile attempt to run and discard the coat at the same time. More than 30 years as a head coach and more than 900 wins and Coach Boeheim still has that burning competitive fire inside. Yet, even he knows you’re not going to get many calls to go your way at Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke.

Jim Boeheim isn’t the first coach to ever “lose it” during a game and he surely won’t be the last. He is also not the first head coach to ever come out of his coat (or try to come out of it.) The first coach I ever saw shed his sport coat was Cal Luther at Murray State University in the 1970s. The officials calling a Murray State game would know how long their night would be in dealing with Coach Luther by how early he ripped his jacket off in disgust. Other coaches have tried to shed a coat like Cal Luther, but none have ever done it better or more smoothly than he did.

Of course, the all-time greatest coach’s rant has to be Indiana’s Bobby Knight who once got so angry at the officials he threw a chair across the floor after being ejected from the game.  That’s not the only world-famous Bobby Knight rant but it is perhaps the most famous. Coach Knight was known for his profanity-laced post-game press conferences as much as for his on the floor antics.

The late Norm Sloan, who once coached North Carolina State to an NCAA Championship, was notorious for his verbal abuse of officials. During the early part of his career, he became so incensed at one particular referee he challenged him to a fist fight. The man in stripes agreed and even ended the game early, so they could go to the locker room area, where they fought each other in the showers.  I got to know Coach Sloan in his later years and worked many television broadcasts with him. He was always cordial and nice to me, but he did have a quick trigger, especially to officials.

 My all-time favorite line from a head coach to an official came from former Georgia Coach Hugh Durham. It seems that an official had made several calls in a game that Coach Durham did not agree with. As the official stood on the floor during a time out, Coach Hugh approached him and asked this question; “Can you tee me up for what I’m thinking?

The official replied, “No, coach, I can’t give you a technical foul for what you’re thinking. I really can’t tell what you’re thinking.”

Coach Durham told him, “Good…… then I think you’re a real *&%#@^+.” 

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Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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