My distinct memory of Mike Shula is a white plastic lawn chair. I remember watching the 1999 NFC championship in the old Sport Shak on Neptune Street in Tampa. (It's not there anymore, but the fact that I know where I was when this game happened should tell you how horribly traumatic it was.) That was the game where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned in one of the best single-game defensive performances in NFL history. They held the Greatest Show on Turf to nine points and kept them out of the end zone until there were five minutes left in the game. The Rams got two more points on a safety, for a total of 11.â†µ
And yet the Rams won 11-6, because Mike Shula conjured up one of the most horrific offenses in the history of anything. It was a terrible scheme, but he made up for it by being incredibly slow to call his terrible plays, like on a fourth-down conversion in St. Louis territory that was canceled by a delay of game penalty, forcing a punt. His offenses had been bad ever since opposing teams realized that if you put eight men in the box, he wouldn't be able to solve it. (Note: This had happened at least two years earlier.) But squandering that heroic defensive effort on that day was the last straw. Ownership finally fired Shula a couple weeks later, since Tony Dungy was too loyal and possibly ignorant to do it himself. He hasn't been an offensive coordinator in the NFL since then, and he's followed it up with a thoroughly mediocre stint as the Alabama Crimson Tide's head coach, among other things.
Anyway, back to the lawn chair. There were far more people in the Sport Shak than there should have been. A fire marshal would have freaked out if he had walked in there. To make room for more patrons, the management had set up a row of plastic lawn chairs in between the first row of tables and one of the giant projection screens. When the Bucs' last feeble drive came to an end, the crowd was reduced to a murmur. Until a very angry (and I'm guessing drunk) man in jorts stood up, grabbed his lawn chair, and threw it at the wall with great force. It crashed loudly off the wood paneling and banged to the ground. That summed everything up for me, so I left.â†µ
I don't think the Florida Gators are crazy enough to actually hire Mike Shula as their replacement for Charlie Weis. (I mean, I hope they are, since it helps my school if they flail around aimlessly and keep winning 6 games a year.) But if they do, watch out for those lawn chairs.â†µ