For over 60 years Joe Paterno helped mold the minds of the young men that played football for Penn State University, 46 of them as the team’s head coach (an FBS record). For almost half a century he led the Nittany Lions winning two national championships (’82 and ’86) and numerous Coach of the Year awards while mentoring numerous future NFL football stars.
His fall from grace due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal is as epic as the many accomplishments he had throughout his long and historic career which could very well be in the works very soon. Rumor has it that a movie on his rise and fall is being shopped around, and attached to play the lead is none other than Al Pacino.
Football fans will remember fondly the last time that Pacino played a football coach, Tony D’Amato in Any Given Sunday. Every time I watch the fourth and inches speech before the playoff game I still get teary eyed. There is little doubt that the man can pull off the roll so its only a matter of time before this movie is made.
However, when it comes to the movies I want to be entertained more than I want to be inspired. The following guys are some of the most entertaining coaches that have ever led a football team on the Silver Screen:
7. Sean Porter, Gridiron Gang: It can’t be easy taking a bunch of kids from a detention center in L.A. and turn them into a decent football team. Then again we are talking about the man better known as The Rock (Dwayne Johnson); he can do anything.
6. Jimmy McGinty, The Replacements: How many players do you think would love to have a football coach that gets his players out of jail after getting in a bar fight and just tells them not to do it again? Then again when you are trying to turn a Welsh gambling addict, a felon, a speed demon with no hands, two personnel security guards, a cop with anger issues, a deaf person, a sumo wrestler, and Keannu Reeves into a winning team you really can’t afford to lose anyone.
5. Hayden Fox, Coach: Okay so this was a television show, but Craig T. Nelson’s Fox along with his dim-witted assistants Luther Van Dam and Dauber were comedy gold while leading the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles and Orlando Breakers for eight years (check it out on NetFlix and thank me later).
4. Herman Boone, Remember the Titans: No coach has been cooler than Denzel Washington’s character in Remember the Titans. Forget that he was a black man coaching a newly integrated high school football team in 1971 Virginia that was going to lose his job the second he lost a game (so he won the state title). The “who’s your daddy” bit with Gerry Bertier is something that every coach wishes he could pull off.
3. Coach Bud Kilmer, Varsity Blues: Anyone that ever played high school football in Texas will tell you that they knew someone that was as bat-s*it crazy as Jon Voight’s Kilmer was. Few have cared more about winning and less about his players than this nut job. On a lighter note, this movie also gave us Ali Larter in a whip cream bikini (feel free to fantasize now).
2. Coach Klein, The Waterboy: Few coaches have had the vision to give a socially inept water boy a chance to play college football, but then again, as bad as the South Central Louisianna State University Mud Dogs were he had nothing to lose. Showing a player his tattoo of Roy Orbison on his buttocks was shear genius.
1. Coach Lambeau Fields, The Comebacks: The name alone would put him at the top of the list, but after taking over the team at Heartland State University and turning that band of misfits into winners in the end only to get hit by a bus driven by Carl Weathers–well that just doesn’t happen every day.