Monday, November 30, 2009

Most Bone-Headed Coaching Decisions of All Time

Over the past few weeks I've seen what I consider some of the worst coaching decisions I have ever seen in my life. It started on November 15th when the undefeated Indianapolis Colts hosted the rival New England Patriots. The Colts were able to overcome a 17 point fourth quarter deficit to win the game 34-35 and stay undefeated. However, they were able to do this in part because of the terrible decision by Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick. With a fourth and 2 from their OWN 28 yard line with 2:08 remaining in the game Bellichick decided to go for it and didn't make it turning the ball over on the 29 yard line. Sure Payton Manning and company may have scored to win the game anyway but at least make them go 60 yards or more rather than 29 yards with two minutes left. Besides, Payton Manning was struggling in the game and who knows if he could have moved them all the way down the field with only one timeout and 60 plus yards to go. I think this is the worst coaching call I have ever witnessed in any sport but I wanted to think about it and brainstorm other bone-headed coaching decisions before writing this post. These are the top bone-headed calls that I came up with.

While I was compiling my list of the most bone-headed coaching calls I got to witness another bad coaching call, this time it was college football. On November 21st, LSU traveled to Old Miss for an SEC showdown. LSU was down 17-25 with only 3:32 left in the 4th quarter. However, they drove 66 yards to make the score 23-25 with 1:17 left. They had two attempts at a two point conversion but failed on both tries. LSU then recovered an onside kick and completed a 26 yard pass to get them into field goal range. Then came the bone-headed coaching decisions. LSU took a sack and a loss on a screen pass that lost them 16 yards and took them well out of field goal range but the poor coaching decisions don't end there. The screen pass was blown dead with about 26 seconds left and LSU let the clock run down to 9 seconds before calling their last timeout of the game(15 seconds that they could have saved). To quote the late Billy Mays, "But wait, there's more!" LSU comes back on the field and connects on a long pass play to the Old Miss 5 yard line with one second remaining. The clock stops for the chains to reset and LSU lines up for the last play of the game only to spike the ball and let the clock run out. So, this had several bone-headed coaching calls that stacked up on each other. 1) Make sure you don't get sacked or take losses when you are in field goal range to win the game. 2) Why let 15 seconds run off the clock before calling timeout. 3) During the timeout, why not get your kicking team ready to run on the field just incase you are able to convert (which they did). 4) If you aren't going to get your kicking team ready to run onto the field then why not have a second play called during timeout to run incase you are able to convert (which they did).


During the 1995 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys traveled to Phillidelphia to take on the Eagles. With Berry Switzer as the head coach, Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones made the statement that offense now wins championships in the NFL. Maybe Switzer was trying to back that statement up when he made a huge bone-headed coaching decision not once but twice. With the game tied at 17 and just over 2:00 minutes left in the game, Berry Switzer decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from their own 29 yard line. They tried a handoff to Emmitt Smith who was stuffed short of the first down at the 3o yard line. However, the officiating crew ruled that the play started after the two minute warning and gave the Cowboys a chance to rethink and punt the ball. After the two minute warning Berry Switzer sent his offese out on the field again and ran the same play with the same result, Emmitt Smith coming up short of the first down. The Eagles ran three straight dive plays and kicked the winning field goal. Cowboys 17 - Eagles 20. I thought Bill Bellichick's decision was bad but at least he didn't make the decision twice.


During the past few weeks of brainstorming the most bone-headed coaching calls, I have come up with many but these are my top three. Below are some of the honorable mentions.


  • BYU loses at home to Stanford because head coach Gary Crowton decides to throw the ball with time running down deep in their own territory and clinging to a 2 point lead. Stanford picks off a pass and wins the game. When asked about the decision to throw Crowton stated, "I wanted to win by 9 not by 2." As it turns out, he wanted to lose by 4.

  • Detroit Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg wins the flip for sudden death overtime, and chooses to kick. The Bears get the ball and score on their first and only possesion.

  • Larry Bird calls an iso for 5' 11" Travis Best with the game tied at the end of regulation of Game 4 during the 2000 NBA Finals. Reggie Miller and Rick Smits don't even get a chance to touch the ball and Best misses his shot with 2.5 seconds left. The Lakers go on to win in overtime and gives the Lakers a 3-1 lead in the series.

What do you consider the most-boneheaded coaching decisions of all time? Do you agree with my list? If not, what should be included?

2 comments:

  1. I agree all those are terrible boneheaded coaching calls. It makes me wonder if they are betting against themselves. I think the most boneheaded was the Detroit Lions head coach not giving his offense a chance to win, I know defense can win games but seriously at least give your offense a chance. Can't think of any boneheaded coaching calls off the top of my head, but would love to hear more, so post some you sport fanatics!

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