Blog Entry

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

Posted on: January 13, 2012 10:39 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:48 am
McCaffery could have apologized for losing his cool. Instead, he praised his behavior. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

I’ve met Fran McCaffery a couple of times. He’s a pleasant interview, even following a loss, which as you can imagine is not always the case with coaches. It speaks well of a man when he can be civil and even show measured human emotion to reporters after a group of 19-year-olds fail to accomplish a task he stressed about over the previous 72 hours.

Nowadays I don’t know what McCaffery’s thinking. The Iowa coach took out his anger on a Michigan State chair Tuesday night, and so that turned into a thing. It was a featured segment on dinnertime ESPN programming, and a number of mainstream blogs vultured the video as soon as it entered YouTube’s orbit.

McCaffery held a press conference in Iowa City Thursday, primarily to discuss Saturday’s upcoming game against Michigan, but he was of course also asked about the chair-hate incident. Surprisingly, the 52-year-old coach said he had no regret over the spectacle that made him look like a belligerent maniac, equal parts ridiculously out of control and out of touch. Modern coaches don’t motivate by chucking inanimate objects in the vicinity of their players. This is not 1982. McCaffery looked outdated. In that moment, he became a caricature, a reminder of how silly old-school coaching mentality can be.

Here’s how McCaffery made himself look even worse when asked if he had regrets about his temper tantrum.

“No, not at all.  If anybody thinks I'm going to sit there with my hands crossed when we're down by 40, they got the wrong guy, OK. I was brought in here to change the culture.”

Let’s stop right there. Change the culture? Damaging opposing teams’ property -- floor and seat -- by power-bombing a folding chair is a good culture change? That’s the kind of behavior a 17-year-old wants to see when he’s choosing between Iowa, Iowa State, Creighton, Minnesota or Nebraska? How does reacting the way you did improve the look and culture of Iowa basketball?

“I'm going to coach with passion, and my players know that,” McCaffery continued. “They also know I'm going to fight for them. So as far as that's concerned, a lot of people like to infer what was going on or what was being said. Nobody knows what I was saying. Nobody knows what we were discussing during that timeout except for me and my players.”

The discussion definitely seemed civil. An Algonquin meeting on the hardwood. Fact is, I really don’t care what McCaffery was saying; it’s of no relevance. What we saw was enough. It’s a bad, bad look for coaches and for the sport. Bob Knight is just as remembered for playing discus with a flimsy chair as he is for winning three national titles and 902 games. Watch the video again. Iowa's players give a resounding non-reaction, like this red-faced berating has become the norm.

“I have no regrets, I have no apologies, none whatsoever,” McCaffery said. “I'm going to continue to coach the same way, and we're going to keep working, improving, and battling, and fighting until we're up by 40.”

You can’t chair-chuck your way to 40-point wins. The longer McCaffery talked, the more laughable the defense became, saying his outburst was “toward the players to take care of what was happening in the game.” When McCaffery felt the need to show his players how they could turn that ship around by bodyslamming that poor chair, Iowa trailed by 28. It never closed the gap after that, not even to 27. Ultimately, the Hawkeyes lost by 34, the worst loss Iowa's suffered since McCaffery came on board in 2010. The coach’s defenseless defense continued when he was asked if he heard from the Big Ten about the incident, he said, “No, nor should I have.”

And this is why Brad Stevens was in the past two national title games and McCaffery won’t get to a Final Four so long as he’s acting like a 9-year-old who just got told he can’t have a dessert that was promised to him. I’m not opposed to coaches getting fired up, yelling during timeouts and even slamming a clipboard out of frustration. But to actually take the time to make a demonstration of lifting up a vacated chair and tossing it to the ground, like that’s going to do anything, is an embarrassment to what McCaffery strives to achieve.


Since: Feb 22, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:40 pm

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

if this is the best subject  to  put down a coach  well then i think you might want to get a second job  and by the way call coach knight about chair throwing

Since: Sep 1, 2007
Posted on: January 15, 2012 9:36 pm

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

"This was a non-event.  The chair was not damaged."

rjm35126, while this poor chair might not have been damaged physically, its emotional damage is likely to last a lifetime. And what of all the other chairs that were forced to just sit there and witness their friend being abused like this?

Since: Sep 1, 2007
Posted on: January 15, 2012 9:19 pm

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

He slammed a chair down and left a green paint mark on the hardwood? Matt is right, this is absolutely reprehensible, almost on par with covering up the rapes of young children. Fire this abusive Irishman, NOW!

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: January 15, 2012 4:51 pm

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

Did you ever stop to consider that the chair might have DESERVED what it got?  It was the rival team's chair afterall, maybe it said something inappropriate while an Iowa butt was sitting right on it?

I mean, you yourself say he's a civil guy and quite mild mannered, even after losses.  So evidently that chair was WAY out of line.  Way to assume the worst about the guy without so much as a single question about the chair, or without talking to any of the other chairs that were nearby to see what went on.

Whatever went down, I think it's safe to say there won't be anymore chairs mouthing off to McCaffery anytime soon.  So it's probably not going to become an ongoing problem.  (Wouldn't it be funny if the next away team they face removes the chairs in the first couple rows behind their bench?)

Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: January 15, 2012 10:11 am

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

The only reason I can see why he slammed the chair down is because he was a little teed off. If my team was down 40 points there probably wouldn't have been a chair left to sit on. And the only reason people remember little incidents like this is because some reporters just don't let it go. No harm no foul.

Since: May 14, 2007
Posted on: January 15, 2012 9:23 am

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

This writer has no right to challenge the ethics of the Iowa coach. Has the writer ever dealt with the stress of coaching? I doubt it. Was it right for the coach to throw the chair-probably not the best idea, but if he felt that was a motivation tool needed to get his player's attention, than sometimes it needs to be done. The writer than goes on to say that Bob Knight is remembered just as much for his chair throwing incident as for all his accomplishments; are you kidding me? Give it a rest and let the coaches handle things the way they feel they need to. If it is something so terrible, we will hear from their AG.

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2012 3:19 am

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

Matt Norlander is the embarrassment. I suspect McCaffrey had no delusions that his chair-chucking incident would change the short-term outcome of the game. It was a symbolic gesture intended to make a point. History has shown that symbols can have a powerful impact. Effective communicators know this too well. Moses broke the 10 Commandments. Khrushchev pounded a shoe. But apparently this is lost on the clueless Norlander. He’s representative of media today that would rather focus on sensationalism and selling irrelevant non-issues than reporting on the facts and what really matters. He’s bottom-feeding sports paparazzi scum. A "journalist" he's not. I've just read my last article authored by him.


Since: Jan 10, 2010
Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:14 am

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

You beat the #13 team in the're changing the culture for the better!!! Great coaching there McCaffery!! Laughing

Since: Jan 10, 2010
Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:11 am

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

75 - 59......I'd say the behavior caught his team's attention!!  Wink

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: January 14, 2012 8:39 pm

McCaffery makes chair-throwing display worse

That’s the kind of behavior a 17-year-old wants to see when he’s choosing between Iowa, Iowa State, Creighton, Minnesota or Nebraska?
There is a lot of talent that has to decide between those schools. Undecided

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