POLL: Can Hawks, Thrashers buck area trend of bad hires?

John Anderson was overmatched in the NHL.

John Anderson was overmatched in the NHL.

Mike Woodson trailed only Bobby Cox and Mark Richt in seniority.

Mike Woodson trailed only Bobby Cox and Mark Richt in seniority.

The Hawks are looking for a coach.

The Thrashers are looking for a coach.

The Braves will be looking for a  manager after this season, even if Bobby Cox handcuffs himself to a pipe at Turner Field, in which case Frank Wren will probably just sweep around him.

Did a little research (it happens). Area pro and college teams have made made seven major coaching hires/fires since 2004.

Do you have confidence the Hawks and Thrashers will hire good coaches?

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Cox, who returned to the dugout in 1990, has the longest current tenure. He is followed by Georgia’s Mark Richt (coming up on year 10). Mike Woodson was third at six years until his employment ended Friday. As the list below will reaffirm, change hardly guarantees success.

I’ve ranked them in order from best to worst, although I’ll grant you that there’s significant competition for worst. Let me know if you agree with the rankings. I’ve also posted a poll, asking a simple question: Do you have confidence that the Hawks and Thrashers will hire good coaches?

Here we go:

1.) FALCONS, 2008: Bobby Petrino slithered out, Mike Smith hired. Smith has had two winning seasons (one playoff) in two years, something no head coach in inglorious Falcons’ history had accomplished. His biggest accomplishment has not been Xs and Os but creating a positive atmosphere and getting players to buy into his system after stepping into a franchise that had been damaged and humiliated  by Petrino (and before that, Michael Vick’s legal problems).

2.) GEORGIA TECH, 2008: Chan Gailey fired, Paul Johnson hired. He’s 20-7 in two seasons including an ACC title, a BCS bowl berth, a win over Georgia and consecutive ACC coach of the year honors. Johnson didn’t inherit a mess at Tech (Gailey recruited well and had winning, even if unspectacular, seasons). But he got his option offense to work immediately and instilled a confidence in players we hadn’t seen on North Ave. (bowl collapses notwithstanding).

3.) HAWKS, 2004: Terry Stotts fired, Mike Woodson hired: Stotts couldn’t be completely faulted for two losing seasons, given he inherited the team’s roster mistakes and then was here for the start of the contract strip-down. Woodson won 13 games in his first year and 53 in his sixth. The record steadily improved with the roster. But he lost the attention of his team in the postseason and a new voice was needed.

4.) FALCONS, 2004: Dan Reeves fired, Jim Mora hired: Reeves took the team to a Super Bowl. He effectively was fired because Vick broke his leg, the team collapsed around him and players threw Reeves under the bus. Mora was a one-year wonder: The Falcons went to the NFC title game his first season but turned into mush heads. They folded in the second halves of seasons for the next two years. Mora merely went psycho.

5.) THRASHERS, 2007: Bob Hartley fired, Don Waddell hired himself (interim): Hartley was canned after a 0-6 start, which followed the franchise’s first playoff season (but a quick exit). Hartley also had lost the attention of his players. But most significant was how he was submarined by a handful of veterans in the locker room. Waddell did no better at the helm, in part because he was coaching the same flawed roster that he put together. Worst of all was how he didn’t give assistant coach Brad McCrimmon a chance to take over as interim until after the team had fizzled out of the playoff race and it was clear Marian Hossa had mentally checked out.

6. THRASHERS, 2008:  Don Waddell out/John Anderson in: This one is more on the Atlanta Spirit than Waddell: 1) They kept him in charge; 2) They gave him a limited budget and forced him to hire on the cheap. Anderson also proved to be overmatched at the NHL level. There was a low level of accountability and the team was soft.

7. FALCONS, 2007: Jim Mora fired, Bobby Petrino hired:  Falcons owner Arthur Blank went from Norman Bates to possibly the greatest coward NFL coaching circles (or professional sports) has ever witnessed. Petrino wouldn’t talk to players like men, never took the blame and quit 13 games into his first season. Check mate!

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73 comments Add your comment


May 17th, 2010
10:12 am

ASG is in charge, which means no money to pay these coaches. We shall see, but not likely.


May 17th, 2010
10:22 am

I’m not sure how the hiring of Mora ranks #4 if he was just a “one-year wonder”. But, I guess you had to put him somewhere on the list, huh?
And, to start the “wishful thinking” part of the blog-this list will be have to be revised to put the hiring of ANYONE else as the GT Basketball coach at #1


May 17th, 2010
10:22 am

I see the Thrash are still searching the Minor Leagues for an NHL coach. What’s the definition of insanity again?


May 17th, 2010
10:26 am

If the Hawks sign Casey, I would be disappointed. If I had to choose between Woodson and Casey, I would take Woodson all day. I thought that they were letting Woodson go due to an upgrade?


May 17th, 2010
10:30 am

I think both teams finally have decent GM’s which they have lacked for a long time… hopefully they make good decisions. I like the guys that Dudley is supposedly interviewing

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NC Braves Fan

May 17th, 2010
10:43 am

On the Hawks’ front, I doubt the fans will be very pleased because we will most likely get a “name” coach (Avery Johnson, Byron Scott, etc.). The trick will be if they get a coach who can meld the core of the team together (sum > parts as you said a few days ago) … and making the right roster moves in concert with that.

Am I confident Sund can do that? Hmmm, I hope so but ask me in a year. :lol:

NC Braves Fan

May 17th, 2010
10:44 am

Meant to say the fans won’t be pleased because we probably WON’T get a name coach.


May 17th, 2010
10:51 am

Jeff – you need to drink a bottle of whip – ass and admit that the Thrashers have failed and they should be sold and moved somewhere …….


May 17th, 2010
10:52 am

I agree NC don’t see a name coach coming in to the hawks , I really don’t see them paying the money , and I don’t believe for one second that Doc rivers is coming “home” to get the hawks to perform.
100% agree with the rankings !!!


May 17th, 2010
10:52 am

Anybody seen my bees? Dang


May 17th, 2010
10:54 am

I agree w/ NC Braves Fan. The funny thing is that now, Mike Woodson IS a “name” coach.

Delbert D.

May 17th, 2010
10:54 am

Can; will? It is very hard to predict the outcomes of these decisions. That is, unless Rankin Smith or his spawn are involved.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

May 17th, 2010
10:56 am

Say what you want about the Hawks, but they are the only team in town that has “Actual” playoff wins in the past 6 years.

When was the last playoff win for the Braves?

The Falcons haven’t won a playoff game since 2004.

It’s amazing how some of you delusional people feel the Falcons new regime is successful, yet they still have not stopped the 6 year playoff win drought.

That just make you insecure in the way you view success. I mean look at the Ravens, Steelers & Patriots. When they don’t win playoff games, they get rid of the bums, because they don’t settle for being mediocre.

Having back-to-back winning seasons are a FAILURE unlesss you win actual playoff games. Coming close doesn’t count.

Maybe next year – A G A I N.

NC Braves Fan

May 17th, 2010
11:03 am

South Ga Dawg Fan & Manny: The Hawks have had some success in picking coaches here and there. Hubie Brown & Mike Fratello both got their first NBA gigs in the ATL. Perhaps Woody will go on to another gig and have a long, successful career.

F-105 Thunderchief

May 17th, 2010
11:04 am

Just substitute the word Petrino in Jim Mora Sr.’s famous “Playoffs!?!” rant and that about sums it up for me.

Mr. Phil

May 17th, 2010
11:19 am

If the Hawks hire Casey they are taking a huge gamble. He is known to have abnormal substition strategies, poor game management skills, and does not understand offense at all. On the other hand he is considered a defensive guru. It just seems risky. Maybe too much so.

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2010
11:20 am

Early polls results: Doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence in the Thrashers. I guess that’s to be expected with the 10 years of scar tissue.

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2010
11:21 am

MatthewH — I hear ya but it came down to this: The three below him are worse.

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2010
11:22 am

Telfo — Just curious, which Thrashers’ candidate excites you most?

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2010
11:23 am

Pluto — I would never, ever want the Thrashers moved. Sold, maybe.

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2010
11:24 am

Matt “Choke”: You’re correct about the Hawks being the playoff standard right now among the pro franchises.

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2010
11:25 am

Mr. Phil — I’m not necessarily bashing Casey’s candidacy, I’m just not sure where all of the excitement for him by some comes from.

The Spirit Within

May 17th, 2010
11:53 am

Jeff– the excitement about Casey comes from your colleague Mark Bradley.


May 17th, 2010
12:10 pm

Only good thing that I know about Casey is he’s not Woody. BUT worried. This team NEEDS to respect the next guy. Is Dwane Casey the guy? Can/Could you respect a guy that got fired at Minnesota? Fair or not. Maybe but not a guarantee. Can you say BYRON SCOTT?? SUCCESSful Coach, Laker. RESPECT.


May 17th, 2010
12:10 pm

Thrashers = 10 years of FAIL; 10 years of unmitigated DISASTER

Furman Bisher

May 17th, 2010
12:18 pm

If the Hawks play Josh Smith at the 3 the way this mouthbreather Schultz suggested last week, Phil Jackson couldn’t even get Atlanta a title.

Dumb, dumb dumb!


May 17th, 2010
12:24 pm

if the asg wants to see a really green arena, they better get some brand name coaches and players on staff


May 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

The Spirit Group is broke. They have no financial muscle. I don’t feel positive about any offseason moves for our beloved Hawks. The thrashers PROMOTE Waddell. Dude should’ve been fired last year. It all spells disaster for the locals teams. Bring on the Braves, Falcons and Bulldogs.


May 17th, 2010
12:30 pm

with asg budget, they should be searching for a coach at the marietta ice forum peewee league


May 17th, 2010
12:32 pm

woodson should have been promoted to wadell’s assistant


May 17th, 2010
12:41 pm

The Hawks and the Thrashers are for sale. If the right person or group buys these two teams, there could be money for a coaching upgrade. If that sale does not happen soon, the coaches of the Hawks and Thrashers will be assistants that ASG can afford.

I’m not up on Hockey coaches, but the Hawks need to make an up grade. If not, then why would ASG not just re-hire Woodson?


May 17th, 2010
12:44 pm

As long as the ASG owns them, no, I don’t see it happening.

GT Fan

May 17th, 2010
1:02 pm

GT needs to fire Paul Hewitt. One stupid Coach who fooled his X-AD for a BIG CONTRACT. The present AD don’t have the guts to fire him. The FANS want him gone!


May 17th, 2010
1:03 pm

I wish Atlanta Spirit would just go away.


Hawks Fan

May 17th, 2010
1:04 pm

Hawks need to hire Casey and get on with it.


May 17th, 2010
1:08 pm

Jeff, I’m guessing the subtext of your question is, would a proven winner want to associate with ASG? Difficult to answer that one until a decision is reached in the current sweepstakes to be the next lucky investor to be allowed to drop a wad of cash into this franchise. My own polling reveals the following leading candidates:

P. T. Barnum, “You can put a dog and pony on the court, I’ll be able to fill those seats.”

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou: “I’ve got lots of drachmas, and all the bonds you could want. Also, I have good experience with public catastrophes.

Oprah: This team belongs on my network on ” The New Dr. Phil Show”.

Henry Paulsen: “if I have ever seen an operation in need of a bailout…, and I think I could get Barney Frank to be our coach.”

Steve Belkin: “I told you that was a ridiculous amount to pay. Hey, if you’re ready to talk turkey, give me a call.”


May 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

“Choke”, considering what shape the Falcons franchise was in when Smith got here, I think it’s safe to say he’s done a pretty good job. The next two years will tell the tale, though.


May 17th, 2010
1:12 pm

My 12 year old son said BYRON SCOTT.


May 17th, 2010
1:13 pm

“Choke” as usual your are delusional in your rant. It’s easier for an NBA team to win a playoff game than it is for an NFL team. The Hawks had four chances in each series to win one. The bottom line is that everyone who isn’t a moron (like yourself) knows that the Hawks were only good enough to win a playoff series at best, whereas the Falcons are built to win a championship.

That has been the mindset of Atlanta sports for years now, just make the playoffs because the media and the transplant fan base won’t place the kind of pressure on their teams the way a New York City or Philadelphia would do to theirs.

So the Hawks will hire (yet again) another average coach who will make sure this team makes the playoffs but there will never, and I repeat never, be a time when the organization does what is necessary to build a champion.

Why should they? Atlanta’s fans care about flash, not about substance, which wins titles. Throughout the Hawks history they were known for only one thing: Dominque’s highlights, which were fine to excite the crowd but meant nothing when it came to go time against an actually championship threat in the playoffs. The Mike Vick years were about flash but no substance whenever they played a more disciplined Philadelphia team.

The Falcons have become a disciplined squad who will compete for titles as long as their stars remain healthy.


May 17th, 2010
1:16 pm

I am glad Woodson is No. 3 (going from best to worst). I wouldn’t say he was a horrible hire, which the title kinda implies. It was more likely a case of the relationship (player/coach, coach/management) had run its course. Kinda like the chick you dated before the one you married: flawed as that relationship was, it was a learning experience that probably put you in position to be (and perceive) “marriage material”.

M. Woodson did a bang-up job building up from the scorched earth of a team in ‘04 to what would seem to be a relatively talented bunch for the next coach to work with.


May 17th, 2010
1:23 pm

Oh No! This Casey guy is supposed to be a “Defensive Guru?” Mike Woodson was called a “Defensive Guru.”

I tell you the truth: If they hire this Casey guy, the letting go of Mike Woodson would go down is another classic screw-up by an Atlanta franchise.

Let’s think about this… Mike Woodson took a 13-win NBA team and when they left, they had 53 wins. And in 6 years, his team went to the playoffs 3 times. All without a young team with no real starting center.

So we’re getting rid of him for someone with no head coaching experience in the NBA? They better go call Byron Scott or somebody. Pay the money and get a real coach! I don’t care if you have to mortgage your house! That’s the price you pay for owning an NBA franchise.

Bottom line: If you can’t afford to get a real head coach, and if you can’t afford to put a competitive team on the court; you can’t afford an NBA basketball team.


May 17th, 2010
1:35 pm

There’s a report out about the Memphis Grizzles thinking about a possible sign and trade for Rudy Gay. Rick Sund lets explore all scenarios to get Rudy Gay in a Hawks uniform.


May 17th, 2010
1:43 pm

Nikkifree,seems to me that all georgia teams are in the same boat(loserville) speaking of the falcons and braves.Ill give the dawgs a pass but not last season starting cox? enough said.

Miami Screaming Eagle

May 17th, 2010
1:47 pm

Rick Dudley could easily become the best GM in Atlanta, quickly. He has championship experiences with several teams.

He’ll hire one of 3 candidates-Scott Arniel, Craig Ramsay or Torchetti. I would have no issue with any of them. The fact that he is looking in the minors for a coach should not concern anyone. All minor league coaches are not like John Anderson.


May 17th, 2010
1:48 pm

You made the point in your summaries about each franchise/college program to the REAL problem. It is the choices! Thrashers “Hartley also had lost the attention of his players. But most significant was how he was submarined by a handful of veterans in the locker room,” the Hawks ” But he lost the attention of his team in the postseason and a new voice was needed (supposedly),” Falcons “the team collapsed around him and players threw Reeves under the bus.” This is a city full of poor choices in terms of personality and personnel in regards to professional sports…


May 17th, 2010
2:04 pm

As long as waddell is involved with the Thrashers, They will ALWAYS be LOSERS.
Just like waddell, a Career LOSER !


May 17th, 2010
2:08 pm

Ryder hit the nail on the head. There is a commitment to mediocrity when it comes to Atlanta sports, and there are two big reasons for that: apathetic ownership and apathetic fans. Look at cities like Boston and Philadelphia that have very successful sports franchises. They have ownerships that care, and they have fans (and media as well) that hold the owners accountable. It’s the same thing with SEC football. The SEC is the best, in large part, because the fans care the most. The passion of the fans is what breeds such a hyper-competitive environment.

I have no confidence that the Spirit will hire the right coach for either the Hawks or the Thrashers, because I’m not convinced they’re all that serious about winning. They seem to be more committed to the Hawks, but even where they’re concerned it seems their attitude is just to field a solid team that makes the playoffs instead of actively trying to build a championship-squad. It reminds me of the Braves in the first half of the last decade, when the mentality seemed to be more about keeping the streak of division titles alive rather than trying to win a World Series.

Crack Head

May 17th, 2010
2:17 pm