Actually, age means a lot. In case you haven't been paying attention, wisdom rules. Both of the 2003 World Series managers were over 60. Hubie Brown is coaching the Memphis Grizzlies to their best start in franchise history at 70. Bobby Bowden won two national titles at Florida State after turning 63. Scotty Bowman won three Stanley Cups after 60. John Glenn was a space hero at 77 Cripes, Frank Sinatra recently played Radio City Music Hall and he's dead.
What about you, Representative Tom Osborne (R., Neb.)? Say the word and Nebraska would fire Bill Callahan before he could unpack his clipboard. "I thought about it a couple of years after I left," said Osborne, 66, "but my grandson, who was five at the time, called crying because he thought I was going to move someplace else to coach. That pretty much ended that."
How about you, 77-year-old Joe Paterno, would you like to—oops, sorry.
Don Shula, 74, said thanks, but no thanks. Darrell Royal, 79, put his foot down, too. "Besides, I don't really know if I could relate to today's player," said Royal, who was home in Austin, after playing a round of golf, "because I don't know what kids are thinking these days. Maybe they couldn't relate to me either."
The more guys you talk to, the more you realize most of them are having too much fun to follow Gibbs at any price. Dean Smith, 72, shudders at the thought of hotels and fundraisers again. From Pembroke Pines, Fla., Earl Weaver, 72, hollered, "Are you kiddin' me? I'm playin' golf every day!"
Tommy Lasorda, 76, wouldn't bite, either. "There's no doubt in my mind I could manage as I always had," he said while stuck in L.A. traffic, "but what more can you do? I'm in the Hall of Fame. I've reached the top of the mountain, and everything you do from now on would be no good."
Life's a bitch.
There was only one other retired coach I talked to who was nuts enough to give it a try: 93-year-old John Wooden. "If I could just be sort of an assistant," he says, "I'd love that. You know, just someone to help with practice, do a little teaching. Of course, with my knees, I couldn't demonstrate the footwork anymore. But if I could just be a helper, I think I'd really love it."
He wouldn't ask much. The most he ever made in 27 years at UCLA was $32,500. But, then, he doesn't spend much. He still drives his 1989 Taurus with the 33,000 miles on it. And he seems to know basketball pretty well. After all, he did win 10 national championships.
So, anybody want to give the kid a chance?