Series / Coach
is an American sitcom
that ran on ABC
from 1989 to 1997. It starred Craig T. Nelson as Hayden Fox, a successful but insensitive college football coach in Minnesota. His assistant coaches include his old friend Luther (Jerry Van Dyke) and the much younger "super senior" Dauber (Bill Fagerbakke
Hayden has to juggle his responsibilities as coach with his girlfriend Christine (Shelly Fabares), a successful anchorwoman, and learning how to be a dad again when his daughter Kelly (Clare Carey) comes to the university for the music and dance program. She ends up marrying an effeminate young man named Stuart who Hayden strongly dislikes.
The show ended up covering him going from being an inexperienced coach with a poor college team all the way to him ending up in the NFL.
There was an attempt at reviving the show for 2015/2016, but it was cancelled due to a troubled production.
Tropes featured include:
- Clip Show: Presented as a In-Universe TV special, Mary Hart interviews Coach Fox, with clips illustrating his comments.
- Crippling the Competition: In one episode the Orlando Breakers are in Buffalo to play the Bills when Luther accepts a dinner of Buffalo Wings from a bar/restaurant called "Buffalo Billy's." The entire team comes down with food poisoning and Coach Fox has to draft anyone he can find to fill the uniforms. Afterwards, Luther goes back to "Billy's" and asks the owner if it was intentional. The owner says no, but isn't too convincing about it.
- "Out Of Control" had Coach Fox order one of his players to take out the star player on the opposing team to give the Screaming Eagles a chance to win. The player does it, but the hit is so awful it's implied the opponent will never play football again. Fox's player is understandably distraught and Coach realizes he crossed the line.
- Crossover: In 1997, ABC forced a crossover stunt on this and the other Wednesday night sitcoms - The Drew Carey Show, Ellen and Grace Under Fire. Titled "Viva Las Vegas," the idea was that characters from the four shows would be in Las Vegas for different reasons and encounter each other. Only a couple characters from each series did this, however, and they amounted to cameos at best. This series' contribution was "Viva Las Ratings" - mocking the network's stunt. Notably, Craig T. Nelson didn't support doing this, so Hayden did no crossing over. Luther wound up doing so instead - running into Drew and getting into a memorabilia bidding war with Mimi.
- One episode started with Luthor winning the grand prize on America's Funniest Home Videos with footage from a previous episode - one of Hayden and Christine's botched wedding attempts, which ended with Christine falling off a balcony, trying and failing to catch herself on a chandelier, and landing in the cake.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Kelly ends up dating and marrying Stuart, a guy whose entire personality rubs Hayden the wrong way. He's effeminate, emotional, very liberal, vegan, artistic and, worst of all, a mime. Notably, though, Hayden doesn't mind most of that in general, he was just hoping for someone who would at least enjoy fishing or watching sports. Stuart makes no real attempt at bonding, but desperately wants Hayden to just accept him anyway.
- Disappeared Dad: Luthor's dad has been missing since 1942. In one episode Hayden actually finds him.
- Hayden feels this way about his relationship with Kelly. He kept in contact but, by and large, she was raised by her mother. The early seasons was mostly about the two reconnecting.
- The Ditz: Dauber.
- Doom It Yourself: Luther and Dauber try to install a floor in Hayden's rec room on two separate occasions. The first time (Done off-camera), they get it so off-level that setting up a pool game caused all the balls to roll to one side of the table. When they tried to fix it, they lost control of the cement mixer, which buried them up to their ankles in concrete, which hardened before they could get out.
- Dramedy: Has shades of this depending on the episode. The show juggled the line between Dom Com, Work Com and Singles Comedy, along with a healthy dose of mid-life crisis thrown in. It was not afraid of having more pensive and emotional stories, or ending an episode on a serious note. One in particular is when Stuart tells Kelly he is leaving her, the episode ends when Hayden asks her what is wrong and her sobs can be heard over the credits.
- Expy: Minnesota State seems to be a substitute for the University of Minnesota (which originally supported the show but pulled out prior to filming), with the fight song very similar to the "Minnesota March". Outdoor scenes of campus, though, are shots of the University of Iowa.
- The Orlando Breakers are a clear expy of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who joined the NFL in the same year the Re Tool took effect. The Breakers, like the Jaguars, surprisingly make the playoffs in only their second season, and play the Buffalo Bills in their first playoff game. Also, one episode has the Breakers' owner plotting to move the team to Los Angeles because of low attendance (which is more Hilarious in Hindsight than anything).
- Football Fight Song: The Screaming Eagle's fight song is set to the tune of the show's theme song. Nobody (Including Hayden) knows more than the first two lines of the actual lyrics (When the Screaming Eagles fight/They fight with all their might).
- Gay Bar Reveal: In one episode, Coach Fox is concerned that Terry, one of his athletes, is less than heterosexual. He ends up in a peaceful bar talking with the student, and everything is fine. A slow dance tune comes on, and two young people go to have a quiet dance on the floor behind Coach Fox. They have a gender in common...
- Handshake Refusal: Hayden Fox ran into one of his fans coming out of one of the private rooms, who promptly recognized him and held out his hand for a shake.
- Held Back in School: Hayden made Dauber an assistant coach when he learned that his protege hadn't earned enough credits to graduate (In fact, given how many credits he had earned, Dauber was still technically a sophomore after four years of college) and his football scholarship only ran for four years. He finally does graduate halfway through his ninth year in college. Thanks to Dauber's rather random selection of courses, he even ends up getting three degrees: In Physical Education, English, and Forestry.
- Hypocrite: In one episode Dauber lectured a player about the importance of keeping his grades up, bulling through the speech even after the player pointed out that Dauber was an eighth year senior at the time.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Luther (played by Jerry van Dyke) learns that he was adopted and ends up attending a reunion of his birth family. As he enters he complains to Hayden that there's no way he could be related to any of these people. An unnamed character (played by Dick van Dyke) chooses that moment to walk conspicuously across the set.
- I Warned You: Hayden gets to say this over and over after his wife Christine finally makes a mistake and gets arrested after a rowdy bachelorette party by not listening to him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hayden.
- Object Ceiling Cling: At one point, Luther is in Hayden's office throwing and sticking pencils up into the ceiling to the point where it's literally covered in them. When Hayden kicks Luther out of his office he slams the door causing all the pencils to fall down.
- Only Known By His Nickname: Michael "Dauber" Daubinsky. When Dauber's girlfriend referred to him as Michael in front of Hayden, he honestly didn't know who she was talking about.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: When a wealthy alumnus of Minnesota State dies, Hayden is certain that he's going to leave a large bequest to the University and starts making plans to use it to build a new athletics center. He's outraged when the will leaves the entire estate to the man's widow, and spends several episodes unsuccessfully trying to pry the funding for a new athletics center out of her.
- Positive Discrimination: Hayden learns that a current member of his team is gay, which leads to the discovery that previous players were also gay and kept that information from him. All of whom were excellent players. Terry, the current gay player, is a hard working and level headed kid who ends up putting Hayden in his place about passive-aggressively singling him out during practice after learning he was gay.
- Re Tool: Hayden Fox leaves Minnesota State University to coach a pro team in Orlando in Season 8.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The aforementioned food poisoning episode was based on a similar incident involving New Zealand's team during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Hayden has Judy Watkins, coach of Michigan State's women's basketball team.
- Stripper/Cop Confusion: Christine is at a bachelorette party where a real cop shows up and is mistaken for the male stripper.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: It's done in a largely unique way, Hayden is fully aware that he can come across as a jerk and just sort of accepts that he is not going to get along with everyone. As a college football coach he has to put on a Drill Sergeant Nasty persona on a frequent basis but he is rarely malicious and fully capable of being a mature adult when things don't go his way.
- Twin Cities: While most of the cast lives near the fictional Minnesota State University, Christine lives in downtown Minneapolis.
- Wedding Day: It took at least three tries before Hayden and Christine actually got married, since the early attempts kept ending in disaster (The incident mentioned in the Crossover example, plus the time Luthor set Christine's wedding dress on fire, and possibly others). The advertisement for the actual wedding episode lampshaded this by billing it as "The wedding of Hayden and Christine. Honest. Really, this time!"
- Work Com