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Coach is an American television sitcom that aired for nine seasons on ABC from 1989 to 1997. The series starred Craig T. Nelson as Hayden Fox, head coach of the fictional Division I-A college football team, the Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles. The program also starred Jerry Van Dyke as Luther Van Dam and Bill Fagerbakke as Michael "Dauber" Dybinski, assistant coaches under Fox. The role of Hayden's girlfriend (and later, wife) Christine Armstrong, a television news anchor, was played by Shelley Fabares.


In early seasons, Coach Fox continues to come to grips with the emerging womanhood of his "little girl," Kelly, now a campus coed played by Clare Carey. Kelly dated, and eventually married in the second season, theater mime Stuart Rosebrock (Kris Kamm), whom Hayden could not stand. Their marriage ended in 1991 after Stuart, returning from filming his own kids tv show Buzzy the Beaver, told Kelly that he'd met another woman. Coach Fox couldn't have been happier to have 'Stu' out of both of their lives. Kelly left for a major ad agency job in 1993. She was only seen in occasional guest spots thereafter. Also seen throughout the run was Minnesota State Athletic Director Howard Burleigh (Kenneth Kimmins) and his nutty wife Shirley (Georgia Engel), who were close friends with Hayden and Christine. At the end of season 7 Hayden is offered a job with a fictional NFL expansion team called the "Orlando Breakers". Hayden agrees and takes his coaching staff with him for the final two seasons. The Foxes adopted a baby boy named Timothy (played by twins Brennan and Brian Felker). Many season 9 episodes focused on the couple's newfound joy of parenthood, as they had been unable to conceive a child together before they decided to adopt.


The series was originally intended to reflect the University of Minnesotamarker, although the school would later retract its support. The creator and producer of the show, Barry Kemp, an alumnus of the University of Iowamarker paid homage to his alma mater by naming the main character of Coach (Hayden Fox) after the University of Iowa's long-time football coach Hayden Fry. Many of the exterior shots of "Minnesota State" are actually of the University of Iowamarker, usually of students walking around the Iowa Memorial Union in downtown Iowa Citymarker. The screen shot when returning from commercial breaks is of the outside of the Hillcrest dormitory. There are also numerous shots of Quadrangle Dormitory as well as the Fieldhouse Gymnasium, which once served as the venue for University of Iowa basketball.


Principal cast

Actor Role Years
Craig T. Nelson Hayden Fox 1989 - 1997
Shelley Fabares Christine Armstrong 1989 - 1997
Jerry Van Dyke Luther Van Dam 1989 - 1997
Bill Fagerbakke Michael "Dauber" Dybinski 1989 - 1997
Clare Carey Kelly Fox 1989 - 1994
Kris Kamm Stuart Rosebrock 1989 - 1991
Kenneth Kimmins Howard Burleigh 1989 - 1997
Katherine Helmond Doris Sherman 1995 - 1997

Recurring roles and guest stars

Family connections

  • Nanette Fabray, Shelley Fabares's aunt, appeared as Christine Armstrong's mother Mildred in four episodes.
  • Mike Farrell, Shelley Fabares's husband, appeared as Jeffrey in one episode.
  • Noah Nelson, Craig T. Nelson's son, appeared as Kevin, the biological father of the baby whom Hayden and Christine Fox adopt, in two episodes. He also appeared as Minnesota State football player Cody Wilson in one episode and as a delivery boy in another episode.
  • Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Van Dyke's brother, appeared as an uncredited extra in one episode.


Minnesota State University

The fictional college Minnesota State University was intended to reflect the University of Minnesotamarker and its team the Golden Gophers, but the University of Minnesota withdrew its approval. At the time no school was named Minnesota State University, but since then two schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System have renamed themselves such: Minnesota State University, Mankatomarker (formerly Mankato State University) and Minnesota State University Moorhead (formerly Moorhead State University).

the fictional world of Coach, Minnesota State takes the place of the University of Minnesota in the Big Ten Conference; in several episodes the characters talk about games with Big Ten schools like the University of Iowa and Michigan State University. The Minnesota State Screaming Eagle school colors of Purple and Gold are also the colors for Minnesota State University, Mankatomarker and the Minnesota Vikings. The University of Minnesota has school colors of Maroon and Gold. The Screaming Eagles reflect the reputation of the real-world Golden Gophers, widely seen as a poor football team, albeit one with a glorious past. The location for the fictional Minnesota State University is never established. It is not located within the Twin Citiesmarker. Some of the outdoor stadium shots appeared to be at Kinnick Stadiummarker at the University of Iowamarker in Iowa Citymarker, Iowamarker. In several episodes Hayden Fox refers to visiting Christine in the Twin Cities and it is evident that he is maintaining a long-distance relationship.

The Coach opening theme by J.A.C. Redford, which also served as the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles school song, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Minnesota March authored by John Phillip Sousa. The theme song was recorded by the Iowa State Universitymarker Marching Band, and the band was also shown in the opening sequence of the show.

In the 1993-1994 television season, Hayden Fox led his Minnesota State Screaming Eagles to victory in the Pioneer Bowl, held at the Alamodomemarker, winning the National Championship. In real life, Florida State won the National Championship that season. The Alamodome opened in May 1993, in time for the real-life 1993 football season. However, the first Alamo Bowl and Pioneer Bowl games had not been played yet. Also, the real-life Pioneer Bowl is not even an NCAA Division I game, but rather is a postseason game played between the champions of two Division II conferences whose members are all historically black schools. Footage from the 1993 Minnesota vs. Wisconsin game held in the Metrodomemarker was used for the actual game to represent Minnesota State and the fictional West Texas University (not to be confused with the real West Texas A&M Universitymarker). Al Michaels provides the commentary during the game.

Orlando Breakers

In the 1995 season, Hayden Fox gets a chance to fulfill his ultimate dream and become the head coach of an NFL team. He accepts the head coaching position with the (fictional) expansion team the Orlando Breakers, owned by recent widow Doris Sherman (played by Katherine Helmond). Sherman, however, is more interested in making money off of the team than she is in letting Coach Fox guide the Breakers to success on the football field. Nearly the entire crew from Minnesota State followed Fox to Orlando, including Luther and Dauber, who remained his assistant coaches. In the final season, Hayden is able to coach the Breakers to a wild card spot in the NFL Playoffs, but loses to the Buffalo Bills in that playoff game at Buffalo. The name Orlando Breakers was a salute to the defunct USFL and the Portland Breakers, New Orleans Breakers, and Boston Breakers.

Series finale

The final episode of the sitcom aired on ABC on May 14, 1997. The final scene in the final episode featured the whole cast thanking the audience for nine years of the show, with cast member Jerry Van Dyke denying the series ending thinking the show must go on. But the cast and director finally tell Van Dyke that the show is truly over, with Van Dyke still denying the show's finale: as the lights go out, Van Dyke mumbles, "I'm still coming to work on Monday."

The final episode also includes an epilogue showing that Dauber had stayed with the Breakers and become their head coach, winning two back-to-back Super Bowl championships and going on to join the Monday Night Football announce team after retiring.


Reruns currently air weekly on WGN America, local syndication in select cities, and on Deja View in Canada. Reruns have previously aired on USA Network, Nick at Nite, and TBS.


Scheduling conflict with Monday Night Football

For season seven, ABC aired original episodes of Coach on Monday night, before Monday Night Football, as part of a football-themed night. This was successful on the United States East Coast, where MNF games aired from 9:00 pm – 12:30 am, local time. However, on the West Coast, MNF games aired from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm (with possible overtime), leaving some Monday network programming with no time slots. During this interval, the show was aired at unusual hours on the West Coast. For instance, Seattle ABC affiliate KOMOmarker aired new episodes of Coach on Saturday afternoons. Some fans have cited this time-slot displacement on the West Coast as a reason for low ratings in season seven. Coach was moved to Tuesday nights the following season.

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released the first three seasons of Coach on DVD in Region 1:

Title Region 1 Region 2
The First Season June 13, 2006 August 7, 2006
The First Season Special Edition
(Playbook Edition)
June 13, 2006
(only available in R1)
The Second Season May 15, 2007 TBA
The Third Season February 19, 2008 TBA


  1. Iowa State University Department of Music
  2. Coach TV Show Coach Television Series DVD Download Review Coach Cast Characters Trivia 80's

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