Coaching: Good Cops and Bad Cops

    When you finally catch sight of the man behind the Scottish bark, you’ll see the 26-year tenured coach alternately crowding the sideline to issue his marching orders, mulling over a bad pass or evaluating the referees…loudly.

    Last Sunday, Sept. 30, if it wasn’t clear who won the matchup between CSU San Bernardino and UCSD, McManus made a point to clarify in his postgame interview.

    “Teams are coming out and pressuring us, and we’re not handling the pressure. We’re too damn soft,” McManus said in UCSD’s official post game interview.

    In response to the followup — whether there is anything positive the team could take out of the loss — McManus replied, “Not really. Not really. At halftime I tried to be nice to them, I tried not to get into them. I thought they would play through it, but they needed their backsides kicked and they needed a wakeup call, and this was a big time wakeup call.”

    Granted, the loss was UCSD’s first of the season. But in the realm of college sports, the antics of a veteran coach — easily likened to a four-year old who lost his favorite toy — is not only acceptable, it’s celebrated.

    However McManus is one of a dying breed, a so-called “old school coach” in the Vince Lombardi, Bob Knight, Mike Ditka fashion. A coach who’s unafraid to yell at his players, leaving hurt feelings to be dealt with by younger, more relatable assistant coaches.

    It wasn’t until the start of the men’s soccer game that I saw the comical contrast in approach between McManus and UCSD Head Coach Jon Pascale. Flanked by assistants Eric Bucchere and Ryan Hernandez — two twenty-somethings who wouldn’t look out of place in a UCSD uniform — the staff creates a much more mellow atmosphere during the pregame.

    In a voice that was never loud enough to be heard clearly from the scores booth, Pascale calmly outlined objectives before sending his players on the field. At the same time assistant coaches pulled players to the side, patting backs, giving individual advice to substitutes and defusing frustrated forwards.

    Creating a climate of solidarity, where players aren’t intimidated by their coaches, seemed the superior strategy on Sunday. Pascale’s squad pulled strength from each other to extend their lead into the second half, while the women seemed unable to gather the composure to pose an attack late in the game.

    There will probably always be a place for “old-school” coaches, for as long as Vince Lombardi and John Madden are fixtures in the American consciousness. But for now it seems the new school is gaining groud.

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