Guy Roux is a very successful soccer coach in France, and has been for more than 40 years. He was about to begin a stint as head coach of the famed French pro team RC Lens - after taking taking two years off - until something unfortunate came up. He's too damn old.
That's right, you've got to love France, where bureaucratic bullshit trumps common sense. According to the Ligue de Football Professional charter, you can't coach if you're over 65. The League's commissioners even voted 3-2 to void Roux's contract with RC Lens because he's now 68.
In adhering to French tradition, RC Lens is bitching and moaning to no end, and Roux will probably get reinstated at some point. But this got us thinking about how would the American sports landscape be changed if coaches had to stop coaching by the time they hit 66 years of age.
It would probably look a lot different.
The best example of how it would be changed is actually not Joe Paterno, but instead Bobby Bowden. Bowden has won a national championship and EIGHT conference championships since turning 66. It's hard to imagine Florida St. having much more success without 'ol Bowden at the helm.
Paul "Bear" Bryant also made it clear that you can win at an advanced age. He won the National Championship at age 65, then repeated again at age 66.
Don Nelson also came out of retirement to lead the Warriors to a first round upset of the Mavs in this year's playoffs. He was 67. As a serious Warriors fan, I honestly have to say that no one aside from Nelson could have done that except maybe Mike D'Antoni. And I know any serious NBA fan would agree with me. And to top it all off, Nelson still pounds beers like a champ.
Paterno is yet another good example, having gone undeafeted in 1994 when he was over 66 (even though Penn St. finished #2 in that year's polls) and he's won two conference championships since turning 66. In fact, Paterno has coached for 14 years since turning 66. He even won coach of the year in 2005, when he was nearly 80 years old.
Eddie Robinson of Grambling, a College Football Hall of Fame coach, also coached for 12 years after turning 66.
Felipe Alou was coaxed out of retirement to manage after he was 65, and he lead the always mercurial Giants to the playoffs in 2003 despite being nearly 70.
And last but not least, Hubie Brown did two full years of service as the Grizzlies head coach when he was hovering around 70. And one of those years he went 50-32 and led the Grizz to the playoffs for the first time in team history.
There's no question that coaching is a difficult task as one gets older. And there's even an argument that Penn St. probably should have replaced Paterno by now (even though he won coach of the year in 2005). But for the few who excel at it, why force them to retire? There aren't many people who would have had more success than Bryant, Nelson or Bowden with their teams, even though they could all be my grandfather.