Best Paragon of Coaching Patience - 2001
South Florida has its share of topnotch pro coaches. Dave Wannstedt is a fundamentally sound boss who sets a good tone for his football team. (We're forgiving him for keeping a hurt Jay Fiedler on the field to lose key games when he had a proven backup QB in Damon Huard.) In round ball, we're lucky to have Pat Riley, but without Magic and Kareem around to close the deal, Riley's team tends to choke and fade at the end of the year. (And Jamal Mashburn, who was foolishly traded last year -- and yes, we were criticizing the trade when it happened -- personally removed a lot of luster from Riley's slicked-back hair by burning his old team in the first round this year.) That leaves us with John Boles, the best coach of the lot. We admit we wondered about him at first. He doesn't look like the sharpest cleat on the shoe. He always seems to be opening his eyes as wide as possible to keep from falling asleep in the dugout. But don't let that fool you. Boles single-handedly proves that nice guys don't always finish last. When thousands of fickle "fans" whined about the Great Huizenga Sell-Off, Boles was working with GM Dave Dombrowski to put the pieces together again. And he's done a masterful job of bringing a team with a payroll the size of A-Rod's monthly dry cleaning bill to respectability during the past two years. Despite a lukewarm start, we expect the Marlins to battle for a wild card spot this year. Bolesy, rest those eyes. You've earned a nap.