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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
How do you expect your coach to act?

By Matt Fortuna

Colleague Adam Rittenberg had a post Tuesday in the Big Ten blog that might have struck a chord with Notre Dame fans.

As many of you know by now, Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery drew some negative attention last week for his slamming of a chair during a timeout at Michigan State.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told USA Today that the conference doesn't expect such conduct moving forward. Rittenberg wonders if those on the sidelines of the gridiron have gotten the message.
Football coaches had better take notice, because we're in an age when every gesture is caught on camera and will make its way to the Big Ten office. One too many blowups could lead to repercussions from a league that wants its coaches to be good public representatives.

The Big Ten has some coaches known to get a bit riled up on the sideline. Nebraska's Bo Pelini had some well-documented issues in a 2010 game at Texas A&M. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is very animated during games. Although a gum-throwing Bill Lynch isn't around any more at Indiana, there aren't too many Tom Landrys in this league.

Will the McCaffery incident change how football coaches conduct themselves during games? Probably not. Should they pay attention to what happened? Absolutely.

Fans seem to be split on this issue. Most want their coach to be passionate and energetic. As a Chicago Bears fan, I struggle with Lovie Smith's perpetually stoic sideline demeanor.

But I've also heard from some Nebraska fans irked by Pelini's blowups (imagine if Mike Stoops had ended up in Lincoln, too?).

How do you want your coach to behave on the sideline during games?

Not mentioned because he is not in the Big Ten is Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who caught plenty of heat for his sideline tantrums during the Irish's season-opening loss to South Florida. But he certainly fits the bill here.

I said at the time that Kelly likely would have been lauded for his passion had Notre Dame gotten off to a better start this season. And it's hard to believe Irish fans weren't just as angry while watching a five-turnover loss to an overmatched Big East opponent.

That being said, perception means a lot in the coaching business, particularly at the college level. And, to steal a line of thinking from Adam, as a New York Giants fan, I saw Tom Coughlin undergo a late-career makeover and become a much more likable figure with his players, something that proved crucial in a Super Bowl season four years ago.

It's been a topic brought up by you here and there during the season, but I'm anxious to hear more of your reaction to what you expect from your coaches on the sideline.