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D'Early exit: Four NFL coaches who quit in-season

  • By Dan Hanzus NFL.com
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For the amusement of Jay-Z, Reggie Miller and Barack Obama, I present you the opening paragraph of the bio on now former New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, still accessible on NBA.com.

"With a revamped roster and a renewed team spirit, Mike D’Antoni is poised to lift the Knickerbockers and the world’s greatest basketball city back to elite status."

Well then. D'Antoni no longer is really poised to lift anything, besides maybe the pins to insert into his Carmelo Anthony voodoo doll. D'Antoni quit the Knicks on Wednesday, believing he no longer could effectively lead the team.

And can you blame the guy? Mike's in a better place now, a land where Linsanity never ends and Carmelodrama can't hurt him. Perhaps tonight he'll have a few drinks, pop in a DVD of his golden days with the Suns, comb his mustache with his little mustache comb and eventually call Steve Nash at 3:30 in the morning.

Sound depressing? It's still better than trying to get Amare Stoudemire to play defense.

D'Antoni's exit stage left got me thinking: Who are some notable NFL head coaches who left their gig in midseason?

Because my dashing friend Adam Rank is a territorial fellow when it comes to his fine Pick Six column, I'm contractually obligated to clarify that this is not a Pick Six column. THIS IS NOT A PICK SIX. OK, Rank?

Call it a Select Four.

  • 4. Dave Wannstedt

    Speaking of mustache combs, Wannstedt resigned as coach of the Dolphins midway through the 2004 season. The Dolphins were 1-8 at the time, and Wannstedt said he stepped down because he believed his job status had become a distraction for his players. Also a distraction for the players: A.J. Feeley and Jay Fiedler were the quarterbacks.

    After a six-year run as coach at the University of Pittsburgh, Wannstedt returned to the NFL in 2011, taking an assistant job with the Bills. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in January and probably wants Mario Williams to buy a house near Orchard Park.

  • 3. Bruce Coslet

    We're taught as children that quitting is bad, but you weren't going to find too many disappointed Bengals fans when Coslet quit his job just three games into the 2000 season.

    Under Coslet's guidance, Cincinnati went 7-25 over the 1998 and 1999 seasons. When the Bungles were outscored 74-7 in the first three games of 2000, Coslet handed the mess to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and went home. It was Coslet's last time wearing the big-boy headset.

  • 2. Bobby Petrino

    Of all awful things that can sink your NFL coaching career, My-Franchise-Star-Is-Going-To-Prison-For-His-Active-Participation-In-An-Illegal-Dogfighting-Ring is pretty tough to beat.

    Petrino's Falcons spiraled without quarterback Michael Vick, and the first-year coach abruptly resigned in December with a 3-10 record. He did so without personally telling his players, instead leaving a 78-word laminated note on each of their stools. He immediately took a job with the University of Arkansas, and let's just say the whole episode didn't play well in an already-hurting Atlanta locker room.

    "This league is not for everybody," then-Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy told USA Today. "This league is for real men. I think he realized he didn't belong here."

  • 1. Lou Holtz

    This was a man who was old-fashioned even before he was old. In 1976, Holtz left the college ranks to join the Jets, who were in the dark late-period Joe Namath Era, but he still tried to bring the rah-rah spirit with him.

    Case in point: He wrote a "fight song" for the Jets to sing before games. Seriously.

    Win the game, act like men
    We're together, win or lose
    New York Jets keep rolling along

    And whereever we go
    We'll let the critics know
    That the Jets are here to stay!


    Wow. Check out this old "Monday Night Football" opener to hear frazzled commentator Alex Karras expose Holtz's gaffe to a national audience.

    Anyway, the Jets stunk, Holtz was hopelessly out of touch, and he resigned with one game remaining in a lost season. Oh, and Karras later became Webster's dad.

Dan Hanzus covers all things NFL on the "Around The League" blog.

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