This week, Oklahoma is losing a longtime rival in football when they make their last trip to Lawrence for a gridiron tussle for the foreseeable future. I wanted to come up with a ranking this week that reflected something about Kansas athletics, but I had a tough time landing on a good idea. I settled on this instead.
I present to you, the Top 10 bald coaches.
10. Brad Childress
No one pulled off the 90’s coaches’ horseshoe better than Brad Childress. His Vikings were an ill-advised Brett Favre interception away from playing for the Super Bowl in 2009. Things went downhill fast after that choke job, and Childress was fired after 10 games in 2010.
9. Rick Carlisle
He wasn’t always a bald king, but after the 2009-10 NBA season, Coach Carlisle decided that he was going to make a decision on the future of his hair. He chose to embrace the bald. That next season, he led Dallas to an NBA title. Coincidence? I say no.
8. Jerry Tarkanian
Tarkanian was famous for bending the rules and pushing boundaries to make UNLV basketball as good as it could possibly be. My favorite story was when Tarkanian tried to exploit a loophole to bring in a recruit that had gotten his GED in jail before he came to UNLV. The loophole was the new university policy that valedictorians got a full ride. We’ll never know if Tark’s argument that his player finished top of the class in his GED program would’ve worked, because the player was arrested for stealing a car before the university ruled on it.
7. Lefty Driesell
Sporting the horseshoe look with superb style, Charles “Lefty” Driesell led Maryland to four Elite Eight appearances and an NIT Championship in 1972. Back then, only one team from each conference made the NCAA tournament, so even though Maryland finished #7 in the final poll, the Terps were relegated to the NIT. Driesell’s most lasting impression on the game of college basketball came at 12:03 a.m. on October 15, 1971 when his team took a one-mile jog around the running track and were greeted by 1,000 students and fans, giving birth to the first ever Midnight Madness college basketball practice.
6. Rick Majerus
Nobody pulled off the sweater on the sidelines better than good old Rick Majerus. He was not only an incredible coach and a mentor to Porter Moser, but also a very odd duck. Majerus worked remotely before it was cool. In 1998, Majerus lived in a hotel suite, and he rarely spent time at the office. “Everything I need, I have here at the hotel,” he said. One of those things was a bratwurst fryer. Legend.
5. Jack Ramsay
Before he was Dr. Jack Ramsay, the old bald guy that called games on ESPN TV and radio, he was Coach Jack Ramsay, the young bald guy that patrolled the sidelines for the 76ers, Buffalo Braves, Trailblazers and Pacers. Ramsay won an NBA title in 1977 with the Blazers. When Portland won, they were presented with two trophies, the Walter A. Brown Trophy and the newly-made Larry O’Brien Trophy, which is still presented to the NBA Finals winner to this day. Shortly after the series, the Walter Brown Trophy was retired.
4. Andy Reid
It’s not as obvious when football coaches or baseball coaches are bald, because usually a hat covers up the shiny dome, but when Andy Reid does reveal to the world his glossy noggin, it’s always remarkable to me how well he pulls off the bald head and power ‘stache simultaneously. They are hard enough to pull off separately, but it takes a special human to pull off this feat. We should have known Andy was special when he was towering over the competition in the punt, pass and kick as a kid.
3. Cael Sanderson
Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on college wrestling, but Cael Sanderson is about as dominant at college wrestling, as both a competitor and coach, as you can possibly be. Sanderson has won 11 national championships in his 14 years coaching at Penn State. One of those three years that they didn’t win was the COVID year, in which they didn’t compete in the National Championships. Oh by the way, he was 159-0 as a collegiate wrestler at Iowa State and won a gold medal in 2004. He does everything well, including baldness. Look at that beauty.
2. Knute Rockne
Most pictures you see of good ol’ Knute are of him on the sidelines sporting a hat, but Coach Rockne was bald and beautiful. I feel like I have a connection with Rockne. My travels with UCO football and basketball take me through The Flint Hills of Kansas quite often, and the rest stop at Mattfield Green has a statue of the former Notre Dame coach who was killed in a plane crash nearby. I try to stop by and salute Knute as often as possible.
1. Pep Guardiola
Yes, Manchester City is my favorite team. Yes, soccer is my favorite sport. This is my list and I don’t have to apologize for anything, but I do want to share with you this story. In 2017 I went to Houston to watch Manchester City play Manchester United in an exhibition at NRG Stadium. I got a press credential (the bar was set extremely low), and after the match I hung outside of Manchester City’s locker room trying to not look like a fanboy and actually pretending to do media things. That’s when Pep emerged from the abyss of the locker room and it was like a bright light hit me right between the eyes. As I struggled to process what was happening, he walked by me, inches from me. No man on Earth has ever smelled as good as Pep Guardiola did in that moment. I don’t know what cologne he wears, or if it’s just a natural scent that he emits, but if I close my eyes long enough, I can still remember it. Pep, if you read this, send me the Amazon link.
(Photos by Bruce Kluckhohn, Trevor Ruszkowski, Stephen R. Sylvanie, Malcolm Emmons, Robert Deutsch, Reese Strickland, Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY Sports; Todd Lisenbee/Sellout Crowd)