Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Method to Madness; Subtle or Not, College Coaches Try to Get into Heads of Referees, Players

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Method to Madness; Subtle or Not, College Coaches Try to Get into Heads of Referees, Players

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON SCHNEIDER

After one of his players was called for a blocking foul, Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren stood stiffly, chin tucked into his chest, arms pressed against his body as he mimicked his player, silently criticizing the call and imploring the refs to call a charge.

A few moments later, North Florida coach Matt Kilcullen bounded from his spot in front of the Osprey bench as if a horde of fire ants had invaded his pants, kicking up a leg and pirouetting as he vehemently protested a call that went against UNF.

Of course, few noticed either coach's gesticulations. And if they did, didn't give it much thought. Basketball coaches are known for their occasionally volatile and frequently humorous sideline tirades.

But just who are these temper tantrums meant for? The referees? The players? The fans?

All three, as it turns out.

"I think if you boil it all down, it goes to trying to win the game," Atlantic Sun Conference commissioner Ted Gumbart said. "If [coaches] think getting the crowd into the game or getting a technical foul will show their kids that they're standing for them and help them win, they'll do it with the goal of getting the team to perform."

Many coaches are known for their sideline antics.

No show about Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight is complete without the infamous 1985 chair-throwing incident. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's orange-coated, sweat-stained fits of rage are a growing legend. Former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino's tantrums often were hair-raising, literally.

While acting like children might be entertaining to fans, not all coaches take protests that far.

"I don't want our players to start worrying about the officiating," said Warren, who generally limits his protests to the occasional shoulder shrug, arm flap or pantomime. "As an assistant coach, we were very conscious of keeping our kids focused. …

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