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Former USC, Bucs coach John McKay dies at 77

John McKay's coaching record

Sunday, June 10, 2001
John McKay was always quick with the quip

John McKay, the former USC and Tampa Bay coach, was one of the most colorful (and successful) coaches in football. Known for his sense of humor -- and he needed it coaching those early Bucs teams -- McKay was one of the most quotable coaches in any sport. Here's a collection of some of McKay's classic lines:

On the Bucs

"I think it's a good idea." -- on the Buccaneers' execution

"Every time I look up, it seems we're punting." -- on the early years of Tampa Bay

"Everyone is unhappy at times, even my wife. Only she doesn't get interviewed about it." --on Buccaneers players who were complaining to the press

"Injuries kill you. I remember in Pittsburgh, we had no players and the ones we did have wanted to stay at the hotel by the fire. I was ticked because that's where I wanted to stand." -- on the Buccaneers losing 42-0 to the Steelers

"We didn't have a lot of talkers. We had two or three guys who could say a long prayer. In fact, one guy went so long one time he got an standing ovation. He was blessing everybody, the motor, the tire, the wheels, the fans. I kind of went to sleep." -- on his early Bucs teams

"You do a lot of praying, but most of the time the answer is 'no.'" -- on why coaching an expansion team is a religious experience

"The (orange) uniforms were already picked out by the time I got here. I didn't give it too much thought until I saw our buses and I said, `My God, we're dressed just like that bus.' " -- on the Bucs uniforms

"They fired two guys in the front office before I even got here. We didn't have a place to practice. There just hadn't been a lot done. Except they had picked out the uniform, of course." -- on the Bucs organization

"We didn't tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking."

"It was about three-to-one that I was not an SOB. But there were a lot of ones." --on fan mail he received as Tampa Bay coach

McKay at USC

"He is not in a union. He can carry the ball as many times as we want him to." -- after O.J. Simpson carried the ball 38 times in a game

"I don't go for character building. This is done at home, not in college."

"There are still over 600 million Chinese who don't care if we win or lose."

"To pick a national champion, you should always select the team without a tremendously difficult schedule. There's a difference between fighting 10 Joe Louises and fighting one Joe Louis and nine stiffs."

"When I was duck hunting with Bear Bryant, he shot at one but it kept flying. 'John,' he said, 'there flies a dead duck.' That's confidence."

McKay on players (especially kickers)

"He may be the only kicker to kick and collect social security at the same time." --on 41-year-old kicker Jan Stenerud.

"Let me know if Cain is able." -- when asked if Lynn Cain of the Falcons was ready to play against the Bucs

"Capece is Kaput." -- on releasing kicker Bill Capece

"He's not twins." -- on the weaknesses of linebacker Hugh Green

"I don't think he's got much of a future here, because I plan on going to all the games." -- on placekicker Pete Rajecki having a bad camp with the Buccaneers because McKay made him nervous

"Kickers are like horse manure. They're all over the place."

"Jerry's a nice kid, but so's my wife. And she's no quarterback." -- on backup QB Jerry Golsteyn in 1983

McKay on Tampa's recent success

"We were in four playoff games. Even though most of the people here in their 20s probably wouldn't believe it or know anything about it, the Bucs were on top of the world once. I'm glad I could hang around long enough to see it happen again."

"There aren't many secrets in coaching. Well, there's one secret: Get a guy like Warrick Dunn, throw him a screen pass and watch him run 52 yards with it. That will make a genius out of you every time."

"If the new uniforms are helping the Bucs win, I hope next year they change again. Really, I think you can play in overalls if you win."

McKay on coaching and the NFL

"A genius in the NFL is a guy who won last week."

"You usually wind up staying up all night, or until your best player comes in." -- on why he never had bed checks

"If you have everyone back from a team that lost 10 games, experience isn't too important." -- on the significance of experience

"We'll have an offensive team and a defensive team. And the other team will be in charge of carrying me off the field." -- on playing a game with only a small number of players

"I keep a picture of O. J. Simpson at my side at all times to remind me of the days when I knew how to coach." -- reminiscing about his days at USC prior to the awful early years as the Bucs' coach

"Hold when you're at home and don't hold when you're on the road." -- on his blocking strategy

"Opening games make me nervous. To tell you the truth, I'd rather open with our second game." -- on opening games

"If a contest had 97 prizes, the 98th would be a trip to Green Bay."

"It's shattering when a player loses interest in camp. When you lose your desire to stand around and eat steaks, you lose everything."

"God's busy. They'll have to make do with me." -- when asked if his team prayed for victory

"Statistics and records are baseball talk. They keep records like most times sliding into second base on a Tuesday."

"With so many Super Bowl rings, maybe they'll all retire and go into the jewelry business." -- on the '70s Steelers

"You draw Xs and Os on a blackboard and that's not so difficult. I can even do it with my left hand." -- on the difficulty of football

"Underdog, overdog, hotdog. I guess you want to be an underdog -- but an underdog with the best team." -- on being an underdog in a playoff game

"The only problem with doing the impossible is that everybody expects you to duplicate the impossible."

"Emotion is highly overrated in football. My wife Corky is emotional as hell but she can't play football worth a damn."

"Intensity is a lot of guys that run fast."

"It does not take a rocket scientist to coach a professional football team, but, of course, I was one of the few who happened to be a rocket scientist." in 1991 while watching a Bucs practice

"Maybe that will distract the Falcon quarterback." -- McKay once threatened to show up naked for a game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Players on John McKay

Doug Williams, TB 1978-82: "That song, 'I Did It My Way,' that's John McKay. He didn't care what the people thought. He didn't do things to win the acceptance of other people. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Ex-USC and Bucs LB David Lewis, TB 1977-81: "There was nothing phony about the man. ... Nobody drafted a black quarterback in the first round in those days. But with Coach McKay, the best players played. He told you what was on his mind, in an honest and straightforward manner. He took the brunt of criticism in the early days, but he had the last laugh. We came a lot further, a lot faster, than any team in NFL history."

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