Who may follow Vance Joseph on select list of big league head coaches from New Orleans

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Vance JosephWhen Marrero native and former Archbishop Shaw star Vance Joseph was named head coach of the Denver Broncos last Thursday, he joined a select, elite list of head coaches at the highest level of professional sports from the New Orleans area with numbers seven individuals.

As a sophomore, Joseph exhibited his extraordinary leadership qualities, quarterbacking Hank Tierney’s Shaw Eagles to the 1987 state championship in Class 4A. The 44-year-old Joseph also helped the Eagles win the 1989 Class 4A state basketball championship as well as a solid guard for head coach Joey Stiebing.

Joseph went on to Colorado, playing for the Buffaloes as a running back and quarterback before playing two seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, playing in 17 games and recording a pair of interceptions.

Joseph’s brother, Mickey, starred at Shaw as well at quarterback before playing at Nebraska. He is now running backs coach at Louisiana Tech.

Joseph is the second head coach in the NFL from the New Orleans area.

The first was Richie Petitbon.

The New Orleans native seved as head coach of the Washington Redskins in 1993 after serving as defensive coordinator for Washington from 1981-92. Petitbon was one of the famed Petitbon brothers, joining John as a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

John was a three-sport star at Jesuit, prior to younger brother Richie. He was part of a national championship team at Notre Dame before playing for the Cleveland Browns, winning an NFL title in 1955.

Petitbon starred at Jesuit High School and Tulane before playing 14 years in the NFL. His 38 interceptions are second most in Chicago Bears history. He played for Chicago from 1959-68 before playing for the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins. Petitbon was a first-team All-Pro in 1963, when the Bears won the NFL championship, and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

New Orleans has produced the most head coaches in Major League Baseball, with four individuals holding that distinction.

A native of New Orleans, Connie Ryan starred at Jesuit High School before attending LSU. He went on to play 13 seasons for the New York Giants, Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies.

A native of Gretna, Mel Ott starred at Gretna High School and played semi-pro team in Patterson, LA before becoming a fixture as a player for the New York Giants for 21 seasons, batting .304 with 511 home runs and 2,876 hits.

Ott was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951 with 87.2 percent of the vote. He was a 12-time All-Star. led the National League in home runs six times, led the league in RBI in 1934 won a World Series in 1933 and had his No. 4 retired. Ott managed the Giants from 1942-48 (seven seasons). Ott is a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Lou Klein was named manager of the Chicago Cubs in June 1965, replacing Bob Kennedy. The 46-year old Klein, a native of Metairie, had been the Cubs’ first base coach and hitting instructor before becoming a midseason replacement at the helm.

In charge in the role of a manager at least, Klein ran the Cubs on the field under interesting circumstances on several occasions.

Oddly, Klein had also been part of owner Philip K. Wrigley’s college of Coaches experiment in the early 1960’s. Wrigley did away with the position of field manager and instead rotated coaches to run the Cubs and their minor league affiliates. Klein ran the Cubs for 40 games over two stints in 1961-62 before becoming the last such head coach in team history when he replaced Kennedy through the end of 1965.

Klein’s overall record as manager – or head coach in this strange case – was 65-82.

As a major league infielder form 1943-51 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Athletics, Klein batted .259 in 285 games. In his rookie season with the National League champion Cardinals (1943), he played every inning of every game and batted .287.

Klein attended S. J. Peters High School and starred in the American Legion baseball league before signing with St. Louis.

A New Orleans native, George Strickland starred as a shortstop at S.J. Peters and signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, then a Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate, out of High School. Strickland went on to play in the majors between 1950-60 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians.

Strickland went on to coach with the Minnesota Twins in 1961 before becoming the third base coach of the Indians in 1963. Strickland was named Interim manager of the Indians in 1964 and he became permanent manager of Cleveland in 1966.

A native of New Orleans, Ron Washington played at John McDonogh High School who went on to play 13 years in the majors with the Dodgers, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston.

After serving as an assistant coach for 11 years with Oakland, Washington was given his opportunity as manager of the Texas Rangers in 2007 and served eight years in Arlington. He won 664 games and guided the Rangers to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. He is now the third base coach with Atlanta.

There has been just one New Orleans native to serve as a head coach in the NBA.

Avery Johnson has that distinction. The New Orleans native played at St. Augustine, leading the Purple Knights to 35-0 record and a state championship, along with a mythical national championship.

Johnson played collegiately at New Mexico Junior College and Cameron University before playing at Southern University from 1986-88, leading the NCAA in assists in both 1987 and 1988 and was the two-time SWAC Player of the Year for the Jaguars.

He went on to play in the NBA for 17 seasons (1988-2004) for Seattle, Denver, San Antonio, Houston, Golden State and Dallas.

After retiring, Johnson served as an assistant coach with Dallas under Don Nelson, who hired Johnson as his heir apparent. Johnson got the job in 2006 and remained through 2008, leading the Mavericks to an NBA Finals appearance before moving on to coach the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. Johnson is now the head coach at Alabama. Johnson is a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

There are no New Orleans ties to head coaching in NHL history. In Major League Soccer, Jason Kreis of Mandeville High School is the head coach of Orlando City SC but Kreis was born in Omaha, NE before his family moved to Mandeville for his sophomore year.

Mike White, Webster Garrison, Randy LivingstonThe conversation now moves on to who may be next?

Others who hail from New Orleans who may be worthy of consideration now or in the future are Don Newman, Mike White, Robert Pack, Randy Livingston, Frank Wilson and Webster Garrison.

Newman was born and raised in New Orleans and played at Brother Martin High School before playing at LSU, Lake City Junior College and Idaho. He has served as an assistant coach on the NBA level with Milwaukee, New Jersey, San Antonio and now Washington. On the college level, he was a head coach at Sacramento State and Arizona State.

White was not born in New Orleans (Dunedin, FL) but he was raised here, attending and playing at Jesuit. He went on to play well at Ole Miss. White went on to become a successful head coach at Louisiana Tech and now at Florida. At 39-years-old, might he follow Billy Donovan to the NBA?

A native of New Orleans, Pack was born and raised in the Crescent City, attending Lawless High School, where he was a star. He went on to play at Tyler Junior College and USC. He went on to play 14 years in the NBA with Portland, Denver, Washington, New Jersey, Dallas Denver, Minnesota and with the New Orleans Hornets.

Pack has been an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and now the New Orleans Pelicans. At 47-years-old, Pack has the experience and knowledge as a player and coach to get a shot at being a head coach.

Wilson could be an intriguing possibility for the NFL in the future. Wilson, who was born in New Orleans and prepped at St. Augustine, just finished off his first season as a head coach in successful fashion at UTSA. Wilson played at Nicholls State and has coached previously at O. Perry Walker and served as an assistant at LSU, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Tennessee.

Newman was born and raised in New Orleans and played at Brother Martin High School before playing at LSU, Lake City Junior College and Idaho. He has served as an assistant coach on the NBA level with Milwaukee, New Jersey, San Antonio and now Washington. On the college level, he was a head coach at Sacramento State and Arizona State.

Livingston was born in New Orleans and was a superstar at Newman, perhaps the best player in the nation, before signing with LSU. A terrible knee injury curtailed what could have been a brilliant career but Livingston fought back to play part of 11 seasons in the NBA with Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Golden State, Seattle, the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah, Chicago and Seattle.

Livingston served as a successful head coach of the D-League Idaho Stampede, leading the franchise to a championship. A member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, Livingston is now an assistant coach at LSU.

Wilson could be an intriguing possibility for the NFL in the future. Wilson, who was born in New Orleans and prepped at St. Augustine, just finished off his first season as a head coach in successful fashion at UTSA. Wilson played at Nicholls State and has coached previously at O. Perry Walker and served as an assistant at LSU, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Tennessee.

Webster Garrison prepped at John Ehret, where he was a two-sport star as a quarterback in football and an outstanding shortstop in baseball. He played five games in Major League Baseball for the Oakland A’s. Garrison is now the manager of the Arizona League Athletics for the Oakland organization for the last two years.

Now 51, Garrison previously served as the manager of the Class A Stockton Ports. He served as hitting coach for the Nashville Sounds (Triple A) in 2015. Garrison served as the hitting coach for Midland (Double A) in 2014.

While the legacy of New Orleanians coaching at the highest level is one to be proud of, here is hoping that it grows in the near future.



Note: Bob Remy contributed to this story.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

CAO/Executive Producer

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College Hall of Fame, Professional Bowlers Tour) and many state and local awards for his work in the field, Ken currently serves as Sports Director of WGSO, 990 AM and hosts award-winning shows, including Ken Trahan’s Original Prep Football Report and The Three Tailgaters Show with Ed Daniels and Rick Gaille. In 1988, Ken was chosen by the Professional Bowlers Association to receive its annual radio broadcasters national award for…

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