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Considering the way the Texas Rangers played this season, many people are lobbying for Jeff Bannister to be named American League Manager of the Year. Bannister’s coaching job this season is one of the best we’ve seen in the DFW area through the years. But where does Bannister rank among the head coaches of the big four professional sports franchises in the Metroplex? Here’s how I see it.
First place: Rick Carlisle
Carlisle takes first place for leading the Dallas Mavericks to their first championship in 2011. Winning the NBA title legitimatized DFW professional sports for the first time since 1999, when the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup. If that’s not enough to convince you why Carlisle should be first on this list, consider how competitive the Mavs have been against good teams, even when they have lesser talent. Remember the 2014 playoffs when the Mavericks took the Spurs to Game 7?
Carlisle has been an elite head coach during his seven years in Dallas and has made more out of what he has been given than any other DFW area coach.
Second place: Jeff Bannister
In his first season as manager of the Texas Rangers, Bannister had to deal with numerous setbacks, including losing ace Yu Darvish
to Tommy John surgery before the season started and watching starter Derek Holland land on the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder injury.
He also had to overcome the struggles of outfielder Leonys Martin and members of the bullpen. Trials like these allowed us to see Bannister’s best managing, such as overhauling the bullpen.
The Rangers were eight games back in the American League West standings on Aug. 1, but Bannister, with the help of the blockbuster Cole Hamels trade, helped rally the team to win the West. The AL Division Series loss can’t really be blamed
on him. Coaches coach and players play, and errors doomed the Rangers against the Blue Jays.
With Darvish making a comeback next season, expect the Rangers to make some noise again with Bannister at the reigns.
Third place: Lindy Ruff
Ruff is third on this list because he hasn’t done enough in his two years here to really be awful, but he also hasn’t done much to stand out
either. He certainly brings experience to the table, making the NHL playoffs nine times in his career, including a Stanley Cup Finals appearance where his Buffalo Sabres lost
to the Stars. Ruff did lead the Stars to a playoff appearance in his first season, and even though they didn’t make the playoffs last season, they put up virtually the same record.
Ruff has been given considerable talent these past couple of offseasons with the additions of Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi. That being said, if they don’t make some noise in the playoffs this year, it might be time to make a change.
Fourth place: Jason Garrett
Garrett came in last place on this list by a lot. In his tenure as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Garrett has been two different types of head coach: a play-calling head coach and a walk-around head coach. Garrett the play-calling
head coach was mediocre at best, leading Dallas to three straight 8-8 seasons from 2011-2013. Garrett the walk-around head coach seemed impressive last year as he was able to manage his team’s emotions and composure, which was part of the reason the Cowboys had an 8-0 road record.
But so far this year, Garrett the walk-around head coach has been one of the worst in-game managers in the NFL. We’ve seen him have poor communication with his coordinators against Atlanta and New Orleans, and he failed to call timeouts in critical situations, ultimately resulting in two straight losses.
The Cowboy faithful won’t be happy until Dallas wins another Super Bowl, so if Garrett doesn’t at least make a Super Bowl appearance within the next three to four seasons, he will be gone. And deservedly so.