Kentucky’s gritty 82-74 victory in Fayetteville last weekend was groundbreaking for two reasons: one, it proved the Cats are indeed capable of executing in pressure situations, and two, introduced us to “mock turtle” Tubby. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about a coach’s threads, but other than the Tommy Bahama days of Maui I can’t recall ever seeing a Kentucky coach opting against the standard coat + tie. Now, I’m not trying to play fashion fuzz or pass judgments on one’s personal style, but if Tubby thought he could just “rock the mock” and get away scot-free, he was mistaken. So what is the significance of this wardrobe swap? Did he do it for world peace? Love? Nolan Richardson? Cole Haan? Either way, Tubby felt it necessary to explore the full gamut of garment, therefore, I will do the same:
Coat and tie–The meat potatoes of coach-wear uh, everywhere, this timeless ensemble is still the industry standard. Formal in guise but causal in spirit, the coat and tie presents coaches with premium versatility. Nothing says “that was a terrible call” or “you all are playing like s**t” than a swift removal of the jacket. Why clothiers don’t put the coach’s name on the back of the blazer I’ll never know.
Runway models: James Nasmith, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Dick Fick
(mock) turtleneck–Tell the world that you’re serious–but tranquil, and also a little cold, with this fashion icon. I always grew up with the understanding that turtle necks served two purposes: keeping baseball players warm and free of cloth entanglement, and two, hiding any unsightly or indicting hickeys. As for their place on the basketball court, well, not so much. Like the late-great comedian Mitch Hedberg once proclaimed, “wearing a turtle neck is like being strangled all day by a really weak guy.”
Runway models: Mike Brey, Jerry Tarkanian, Nolan Richardson
Armani Suit–Because draping oneself in a cloak of actual cash might be considered “much”, the Armani suit serves as a worthy plan B. Perhaps you want to exude an aura of power, wealth, assurance, mob ties, whatever it may be, the Armani suit speaks directly to your competition and says, “Bow to me…and polish my shoes while you’re down there, beggar.”
Runway models: Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Jay Wright
Sweater (vest)–Let’s face it, coaching a basketball team is not a cushy desk job like Hollywood and Phil Jackson would have you believe. Crouched on the sideline in a muggy gym, working the officials and drawing up plays in pressure situations…not exactly a coat and tie friendly environment. The alpaca sweater, or variations of, offers a more versatile and less confining feel during these stressful times. Throw on an oxford underneath for added panache, or keep it basic with a polo, as long as you’re sporting your team’s colors you really can’t lose…well, style points anyway. And, for those really anxious moments, simply roll up the sleeves for additional reprieve.
Runway models: Bob Knight, Rick Majerus, Bob Huggins
Cardigan–Made famous by the British but perfected by Mr. Rogers, the cardigan may not be mainstream on the basketball court, but don’t let that fool you; this slice of fashion heaven radiates a certain sense of coaching attachÃ©. Wear it over a tie to accentuate sophistication, just don’t take it off and tie it around your waist, cause that’s just gay.
Runway models: John Chaney
Tweed/Plaid–Wearing a coat and tie everyday can get rather monotonous. Sometimes, all it takes is an alternate fabric pattern to rejuvenate your team. Some might say this look died with the Cold War and the implementation of the shot clock. Well, that’s what they said about Prince too, now isn’t it? No, tweed/plaid is a timeless canvas of tailored art, and any coach unafraid to step outside of the box occasionally can lead my team any day.
Runway Models: Al McGuire, Dale Brown, Joe B. Hall, Denny Crum
Wetsuit: For those who repel over the counter deodorant, and tend to turn the back faucet on when games get tight.
Runway models: Bruce Pearl, Gary Williams
Bourbon blanket: Let’s face it, coachin’ ain’t easy. What’s the perfect remedy for stress? A stiff one, of course. If you’re a coat + tie kind of coach, pack a flask, or just pre-game it up in the locker room. And remember, if you’re too drunk to drive, just pass out in your car outside in the parking lot.
Runway models: Eddie Sutton, Bob Huggins, Larry Eustachy
Gator boots: For those who like a splash of ‘pimp’ with their coaching, try a pair of these reptilian trophies. The poor opposing coach will practically shake right out of his Bass Weejuns. For added flair, wear them “with a pimped out Gucci suit.” Ho’s won’t know what hit ‘em.
Runway models: Nolan Richardson