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Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Top 10: Coach! Come Back!

Joe Gibbs coming back to coach the Washington Redskins got us to thinking. We need more of this. We need more legends on the sidelines and fewer in the announcing booth.

SportsNation has compiled a list of the top 10 coaches we would like to see come back to the game they left. Give them a look and cast your vote for the coach you would most like to see make a comeback.

He's thinking ...
10. Scotty Bowman
Bowman is just too darn good to be doing anything other than coach. It's like a NASA scientist who decides to work at J.C. Penney. It's just not right. The man won nine Stanley Cups for goodness sake. He had the utmost respect of every player who ever played for him. Yeah, he's 70 years old. But he's a spry 70. And it's not like you are pacing up and down a 100-yard sideline! Scotty, come back!

9. Dr. Jack Ramsay
Dr. Jack is widely considered one of the greatest teachers the game has known. Geez, his weekly chat on is a treasure trove of advice any that smart NBA head coach should read. The Trail Blazers could use an older, wiser presence and his coaching career does span six decades. Why not make it seven?

If Gibbs can, you can!
8. Bill Walsh
Walsh took over a sorry bunch of 49ers who finished 2-14 in 1979. Three years later, the Niners were standing proud at 16-3 and sporting 1981 Super Bowl rings. In addition to the three Super Bowl titles, Walsh led the 49ers to seven NFC playoff appearances and six NFC West Division titles. Even today, it's not hard to imagine Walsh pacing the sidelines in place of Dennis Erickson.

7. Tommy Lasorda
Lasorda led the Los Angeles Dodgers to eight division titles and two World Championships in 20 seasons as manager. He led Team USA to a gold medal in 2000 by beating Cuba. After his retirement, he became a Dodgers executive, and in 1999 completed his 50th year in the organization. The man bleeds Dodger blue from head to toe. Throw in a lifetime supply of pasta and call it a done deal.

6. Don Shula
Every head coach strives towards perfection. Shula got to taste it in 1972 when the guided the Dolphins to a 17-0 record and a win in Super Bowl VII. He retired in 1995 after 33 seasons and these days is tasting steaks in his award-winning steak houses.

5. John Madden
Madden already travels like an NFL head coach. His Monday Night Football gig has him crisscrossing the country every week, doing research, talking to coaches ... heck, he probably knows the game even better now than he did when he coached the Raiders to the best winning percentage (.750) of any head coach in NFL history. Sure, MNF is a pretty cushy job and the Raiders are in a rebuilding mode, but it's always sunny in Oakland!

Dean, come back! Please?
4. Dean Smith
The Dean. He coached Michael Jordan before he was Michael Jordan. Over 96 percent of Smith's lettermen graduated. He coached Carolina to 11 Final Fours, two national titles and 13 ACC Tournament Championships. He did it all with class. Dean Smith was everything we look for in a head coach. He's the blueprint.

3. Sparky Anderson
The only skipper in history to win a World Series in both the National and American Leagues, Anderson was a master at managing various personalities. If any old-school manager could deal with the overpaid, cocky, "I stubbed my toe, I can't play today" types, it's Sparky. Besides, if for no other reason, the games needs more Sparkys, Bubbas and Cocos.

2. Jimmy Johnson
Johnson won both a Super Bowl title and a major college football championship. He coached "America's Team" to triumph, but we think he could work wonders with just about any team in America. Any team that has the cash, that is.

1. Mike Ditka
The No. 1 choice for a coaching comeback is easy. Who is most capable of resurrecting a suffering squad? Ask yourself ... Ditka or Shula? Ditka. Ditka or Jimmy Johnson? Ditka. Ditka or God? ... Trick question! Ditka is God! When Ditka speaks, we listen. Hey Mike, Da Bears! They need you! Come back!