The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 23, 2014

A Don McCormack column: Goin’ Hollywood... to help Browns find a head coach

By DON McCORMACK - donmac@suite224.net
Sports Editor

— The Cleveland Browns have gone Hollywood, in a way, having been linked to the ahead-of-their-time Three Stooges.

And as they play the part of the Titanic serpentining their way in search of an iceberg to hit, we decided to turn to the world of film and television in an effort to help find someone... anyone... who just might be willing to accept millions of dollars and their offer to become the next head coach of the Browns.

With that in mind, let’s go to the tape, so to speak, with this caveat — I did not include the likes of Herman Boone, Gary Gaines or Knute Rockne because they were real-life coaches, which immediately makes them way too overqualified to be saddled with the task of being the head coach of a sad-sack organization run by, well, Three Stooges...



Hayden Fox, of “Coach”

Played to the mold by Craig T. Nelson, Fox looks the part, acts the part and comes across the part.

Still, something’s missing. Then again, his Pat Shurmur-like goofiness might just fit the bill.

The verdict — Too soft and unassuming. The Three Stooges would control Coach Fox like a puppet on a string.



Coach Nickerson, of “All the Right Moves”

Again, Nelson plays the roll, though this time as the antagonist to Stefan Djordjevic, played by Tom Cruise, and his not-ugly girlfriend, Lisa Litzke, played by Lea Thompson (if you were a male and grew up in the early 1980s, Thompson achieved goddess-like status).

Nickerson plays the first 95 percent of the terrific film coming across as a first-class jerk, which reminds anyone who covered the Browns in the mid-1990s to another, though real-life first-class jerk — Bill Belichick.

The verdict — Considering Nickerson’s play call at the conclusion of the Walnut Heights game, he is the unquestioned clubhouse leader.



Coach Bud Kilmer, of “Varsity Blues”

If you played high school football, you know this movie — as is the case with “All the Right Moves” — is a fairly accurate depiction of the experience... minus Ali Larter and her whipped cream bikini, of course.

And, speaking of jerks (see above), if there has been a bigger horse’s rump as a high school football coach in TV or film history to that played by Jon Voight in this one, these eyes haven’t seen him.

Biggest difference between this film and reality, though, even the players of today would not be daring nor bold enough to lead a revolt as was done in the film.

No, that would be done by their parents...

The verdict — Coach Kilmer is a finalist.



Coach Sam Winters, of “The Program”

A before-its-time film about a big-time college football program, Winters, played by James Caan (who gained fame in a made-for-television movie, “Brian’s Song”), is the face of a program that could be called akin to pretty much every real-life program of today.

With scandals, improper benefits from boosters and alumni, steroids, the grabbed-by-the-gills pressure to keep winning, no matter what, this movie — with Caan at the fore — is more than a bit haunting.

The verdict — Winters’ story is one of redemption. The management team of the Browns doesn’t have any redeeming qualities.

None.



Coach Jimmy McGinty, of “The Replacements”

While Hackman does a tremendous job playing this part, the movie is really led by quarterback Shane Falco (Keanu Reeve in perhaps his best performance) and his love interest Annabelle Farrell (played by the semi-attractive Brooke Langton).

The verdict — Coach McGinty is superb, but having Hackman fill any role other than coach Norman Dale from “Hoosiers” fame is downright un-American.



Coach Eric Taylor, of “Friday Night Lights”

This is from the television series, not the movie, which plays out the story told in H.G. Bissinger’s terrific novel about the Permian Panthers.

The television series and the role of Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler, is wildly entertaining. While the movie, with Billy Bob Thornton doing a terrific job playing the head coach, is pretty much a straight-forward approach to a singular story, the series provided opportunities to tell many more tales and does a tremendous job of doing just that.

Coach Taylor and the town of Dillon come across as coach any guy would love to play for and a community of which players would gravitate.

The verdict — Coach Taylor is too good for the Browns.



Coach Sauers, of “King of the Hill”

Sauers, led by the plowhorse running of Hank Hill, led Arlen High School to the state finals decades previous.

Fast forward to the present when Hank, some of his teammates, including towel manager Dale Gribble, coax Coach Sauers out of retirement to take over their sons’ midget football team.

Old-school to max, he verbally lashes his players, calling them “girls,” dispensing the infamous salt tablets to fix any ailment and toughens them up by having them run head-first into a brick wall.

The verdict — Coach Sauers joins Coach Nickerson and Coach Winters as finalists, purely for the entertainment value. Not to mention the hope he could have our infamous Three Stooges strap on some Riddells and head for the nearest brick structure (with apologies to all brick structures, in advance).



Snoopy, of “You’re in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown”

A dog as head coach of the Dawgs?

Charlie’s pooch is the head coach of the Birds, which is a team consisting of Woodstock and his bros.

In the title game against the monstrous Bisons, Snoopy, though being told what a dog of a coach he is by the ever-sardonic Lucy, guides the Birds to an upset straight our of Cinderella story fame.

The verdict — Snoopy is too good a guy to be partnered with Northeast Ohio’s Three Stooges. He deserves to live out his days in a home filled with love and warmth.



Kevin and Danny O’Shea, of “Little Giants”

The brothers, played superbly by Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill, who plays a former Heisman Trophy winner, both turn out to be fine leaders of men, even of those the age of children.

Then again, considering the actions of some of the Browns, especially those brought in by our Three Stooges (if ever there was a better description of a player than Davone Bess being called a “possession receiver,” I have not read nor heard it), Coach Kevin and Coach O’Shea might be uniquely qualified to coach those who act like children.

The verdict — This duo is a solid backup plan, should none of our finalists agree to assume the (prone) position.



Homer Simpson, of “The Simpsons”

The Three Stooges and Homer Simpson?

If there was ever a better match than this guy and those guys to run this football team, it would take someone special.

Our hero, Homer, replaces Ned Flanders as the coach of Bart’s midget squad in the episode perfectly titled, “Bart Starr.”

Coach Homer’s initial testing of the waters as coach begins with him playing the tough-guy role. Soon, though, he begins favoring Bart (ever seen a youth coach do that, Loyal Readers?), even at the expense of featuring his star player, Nelson Muntz.

The end credits of this episode of the longest-running television series in history are must-see TV.

The verdict — Homer is too smart to lead this circus act on the North Coast.



Coach Klein, of “The Waterboy”

Henry Winkler, known to a prior generation as The Fonz, from “Happy Days” fame, is the leader of the Mud Dogs.

Though Coach Klein’s underdogs pull the upset, it’s difficult to imagine Winkler in any role other than that of The Fonz.

The verdict — No way. Winkler, no matter the part, is way too cool to take over this wagon load of incompetence. Sit on it, Jimmy, Joe and Mike.



Coach Molly McGrath, of “Wildcats”

Played by an in-her-prime Goldie Hawn, Coach Molly is much tougher than her Barbie exterior portrays.

This under-the-radar comedy, which features then-unknowns Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, has some wonderful moments, including some... different... snap counts, “Two, four, six, the Cougars are...” um, we shan’t finish that sentence.

The verdict — Coach Molly is out of the running, basically for being way too hot.



Coach Tony D’Amato, of “Any Given Sunday”

Al Pacino is the star of a terrific ensemble cast in this Oliver Stone epic and he delivers an off-the-charts performance as the beleaguered anti-hero.

His pregame speech before the big game is one of the most iconic use of words to describe football ever spoken.

D’Amato, staring his football mortality in the mirror, is a deeply troubled man, leading a completely dysfunctional team owned by an incompetent in the owner’s box.

The verdict is in.

“Tony D” is the best man for the Browns’ job.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.