Statues are built for some coaches. Some have had stadiums named after them. A handful have been honoured with Hall of Fame selections. But generally, it’s sad but true: Coaches are hired to be fired.
Coaches are generally necessary, but unimportant components of successful teams. “I couldn’t have done it without the players” is a familiar joke among coaches who know that good players tend to make ordinary coaches good and good coaches great.
Undoubtedly the sports coach with the highest profile in North America today is not in the NFL, NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball. The coach faced with the glare of the brightest spotlight in sports today is a Canadian who steers the swing of the world’s most famous golfer, Tiger Woods.
His name is Sean Foley, a Torontonian who uses some unique golf ideas and some unusual philosophical approaches to steer his stable of golfers, which also includes Hunter Mahan and Justin Rose, both of whom are ranked among the world’s Top 15, as is Woods.
Coaching Woods is not easy. Foley has gone from the equivalent of behind the scenes on golf ranges to Hollywood, where Tiger’s every swing tweak is analyzed, dissected and discussed by the golf industry. If Tiger plays well, Foley is a genius. If things go bad in Tigerland, the tabloids may be calling for his head.
Rose says Foley is “technical without being mechanical,” according to a story on golfworld.com.
Oddly, Foley attended Tennessee State, a predominately black college, on a golf scholarship, but always felt more comfortable on the range, working on his game and others’, than on the course. The golfworld.com story quoted his TSU roommate saying Foley kept a black garbage bag in his room filled with clippings of instruction articles. His instruction dream led to a job at Glen Abbey, near Toronto, and he started helping Canadian Stephen Ames on the range one day. “ . . . He changed what I’d been trying to change for years,” Ames told golfworld.com
Through Ames, Foley got to the inside of the PGA Tour and while Woods was going through coaches Butch Harmon and Hank Haney, he was on his way to reaching the low point in his golf career. Now that Foley has helped Woods get back on his game, the Canadian is getting much of the credit for the resurgence. While Foley stands only 5-foot-7, he is becoming a big, big man in the world of golf.
• Among the stupid things in sports, by Norman Chad of the Washington Post: “Football players dumping Gatorade on their coach in the waning moments of a victory. First of all, this celebratory gesture lost its appeal about 2,700 gallons of Gatorade ago. Second of all, I’d consider it more appropriate to dump Gatorade on a coach after losing a game.”
• Howard Rosenblatt of Albany, N.Y., as seen in Norman Chad’s ‘Slouch’ column: “If MLB’s All-Star Game had ended in a tie, would the seventh game of the World Series have been played at a neutral site?”
• Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, via Twitter: “Next, pre-Olympics, U.S. hoopsters play Britain. That’s like prepping for the Henley Regatta by stirring your coffee vigorously.”
• Ostler again, on Twitter: “Rex Ryan loses 100 pounds. Says it’s now much easier to get his foot into his mouth.”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “Bobby Bowden said Penn State should take down the statue of Joe Paterno. Either that or maybe just position it so that it is constantly looking the other way.”
• Headline at SportsPickle.com: “New York Post lays off its 32-person Jeremy Lin pun staff.”
• Len Berman of ThatsSports.com, on reports that Olympic beach volleyballers might trade in their skimpy bikinis for leggings and sleeves because of cold-weather forecasts: “I think we’re about to find out who the real fans of beach volleyball are.”
• Larry Bird, via Twitter, on Kobe Bryant’s claims that this year’s U.S. Olympic basketballers could beat the legendary 1992 Dream Team: “They probably could. I haven’t played in 20 years, and we’re all old now.”
• NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, on Saints QB Drew Brees getting $60 million guaranteed of his five-year, $100 million contract: “That’s even better than Katie Holmes’s deal.”
•Sportscaster Paul Romanuk, via Twitter, before Andy Murray played in the Wimbledon men’s singles final: “Good luck to Murray — British to the English if he wins, a Scot if he loses.”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, after Roger Federer beat Murray for his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title: “He has done better on grass than Willie Nelson.”
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “The Winnipeg Blue Bombers roster includes a Buck and a Doe. Which must be great news to the Als’ Aaron Hunt.”
• Kaseberg again: “You know those snappy Ralph Lauren blue blazers and matching berets our Olympic team is wearing at the Opening Ceremonies? Made in China. But don’t worry, the steroids they’re on were made in the USA.”