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You’re Nuts: Which musical theatre character would be the best to coach Ohio State?

Your (almost) daily dose of good-natured, Ohio State banter.

73rd Annual Tony Awards - Show Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.

In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.

Today’s Question: Which musical theatre character would be the best to coach Ohio State?

For context:

Jami and I were inspired by Meredith and Brett’s “You’re Nuts” question from Tuesday and all of the responses we got online. So, since we are the very niche Venn-diagrammers that we are, we decided to take that idea an extra step in the absurd direction and discuss the musical theatre characters that we would like to see coach the OSU football team.

There was one caveat though; with the rapid expansion of movies being turned into musicals, we said that we would only consider characters who originated on stage; whether that’s in a musical, or in a play that was later adapted into a musical. So, no Beetlejuice, no Mrs. Doubtfire, no Patrick Bateman, or any other movie character who had their stories musicalized.

So, now that you know the rules, let’s get into Jami’s absolutely wrong selection.

Jami’s Take: Dolly Gallagher Levi | “Hello, Dolly!”

Bette Midler Returns To Her Tony Award-Winning Role In “Hello, Dolly!” On Broadway Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for “Hello, Dolly!”

If you know anything about me and my obsession with “Hello, Dolly!”, I am fully expecting you to bite your tongue. Yes, I am biased (be quiet, Matt). I’m also absolutely correct. Dolly Gallagher Levi would be an exceptional football coach (and – this is not the point – but she looks immaculate in red, so she’d really rock that Scarlet and Gray gear). She’d march that team onto the field with confidence, destroy the rest of the Big Ten, and no doubt lead the team to a National Championship victory.

But how could a glamorous woman with a penchant for fancy dinners succeed as the head football coach at Ohio State, you ask?

First of all, Dolly is a professional matchmaker, and what is coaching if not perfecting matchups on the field? If she can expertly arrange marriages for the difficult social elite of New York City, surely she can develop a game strategy for the Buckeyes. She is sly and crafty, and she always has a plan. This woman would eat Jim Harbaugh for breakfast and Nick Saban for dessert (although I guess if we’re being fair, eating Jim Harbaugh for breakfast is nothing new for the Buckeyes).

She is always a few steps ahead of everyone around her, which would be extremely valuable for a football coach. I’m certain Dolly would have a knack for expertly anticipating her opponent’s every play call after one look at some game tape. And she’s a self-proclaimed meddler, which is great if the Buckeyes need to course-correct at any point during the game.

But she has no experience, you say?

Psh, what do you know? Dolly is a woman of many talents. It seems as if each time someone in the show needs something, she is standing by with her magical business cards. Need financial advice? Dolly can help. Want to learn guitar and mandolin? Dolly’s got your back. Lack of coordination got you down? Dolly can teach you to dance! (Also, her dance skills will keep the team agile and on its toes).

This is someone who could give a locker room pep talk, Dot the I, and be back on the sidelines before kickoff. For all we know, she has 20 years of head coaching experience under her belt. I expect if she wanted the job, she’d have a business card at the ready.

If that’s not enough to convince you that she’d lead the Buckeyes to victory, take a look at some of the words she sings:

I’m gonna go and taste Saturday’s high life. “Saturday’s high life” can only be referring to one thing – game day in Columbus. That’s the ultimate high life.

Look at that crowd up ahead/ Listen and hear that brass harmony growing. She is singing about watching The Best Damn Band in the Land perform at halftime and you’re lying to yourself if you believe otherwise.

I’ve got a goal again/ I’ve got a drive again/ I want to feel my heart coming alive again. You’re telling me she’s not talking about field goals, driving the ball down a football field, and the adrenaline rush of game day at the ‘Shoe? Grow up.

When the whistle blows (refs blow whistles, duh) / When the cymbals crash (Dolly Levi, No. 1 fan of TBDBITL) / And the sparklers light the sky (We’ve all seen the flaming couches on Chittenden on game day, this should be self-explanatory)/ I’m gonna raise the roof. She is BEGGING us to let her lead us to victory.

Being the Buckeyes’ head football coach isn’t just about strategy. It’s about heart. Dolly has both, and I believe if given a shot, she would march onto that field like it was the Harmonia Gardens restaurant and bring home another title. For her, it would be all in a day’s work.

Matt’s Take: Read to find out!

I’m not gonna lie, I knew that Jami was going to go with Dolly before I even pitched her the idea for this article, and if you know her IRL, you would have too. But if I’m being honest, even knowing her passion for that show and character, I did not anticipate the full-throated, wildly creative, almost desperate plea that she made for Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi.

Of course, she ignored the fact that Dolly has a tenuous relationship with the truth and often manipulates others for her own benefit, but I’m not here to judge Jami’s problematic choice; instead, I am here to get to the actual correct answer.

Now, this is obviously no easy task, as there are thousands of compelling characters throughout the pantheon of musical theatre. So, what do you do when you have a difficult decision that requires you to weigh countless different factors? Well, I decide what I want my perfect outcome to be, and then I make a spreadsheet and write down the pros and cons for all possible options.

When I think about the type of person that I would want to be Ohio State’s football coach, I want someone who is a great leader, a master motivator, and an inspirational figure, but I also want them to be a decent human being. Someone who believes in more than just chasing personal glory. Someone who can rally others to a cause and goal bigger than themselves.

With those qualities in mind, I jotted down some ideas that popped to mind.

Candidates who didn’t pass the background check

Charcter Musical Pros Cons
Charcter Musical Pros Cons
Elder Cunningham "The Book of Mormon" Magnetic personality, charismatic storyteller, incredibly loving and caring Unabashed bullshitter
Evan Hansen "Dear Evan Hansen" Can inspire change, creative problem-solver, works through injury Pathological liar
Harold Hill "The Music Man" Great motivator, skilled organizer, gets surprisingly competent results Morally bankrupt con artist
Henry Higgins "My Fair Lady" via "Pygmalion" Fantastic teacher, disciplinarian, capable of orchestrating remarkable turnarounds Legendary asshole
Madame Rose "Gypsy" Visionary leader, continues fighting despite obstacles, able to adapt at a moment's notice Unrepentent narcissist
Riley Williams "We Are the Tigers" Cares deeply about her team, dedicated to positive team building, always willing to step up when needed Murdered two under-performing team members
The Witch "Into the Woods" Willing to make needed sacrifices to succeed, huge bag of tricks, can convince people to do just about anything Literally fed someone to a giant to save herself

As you can see, this isn’t easy. There are a lot of powerful leaders throughout the musical theatre canon, but many of them are morally dubious at best. So, I decided to then focus on characters who were as good in nature as they were in leadership.

That brought me to the likes of Aida from the musical of the same name (the character originated in an opera, so I’m counting her as having a stage origin), but she ultimately abandons her people to die with her one true love. While that it is obviously romantic, coaches need to be able to have a work/life balance that the Nubian princess just wasn’t able to maintain.

Then there’s Campbell from “Bring it On: The Musical” (it’s an original story, so doesn’t fall under the movie-to-musical caveat), but while she does rally her new team to their cross the line and achieve their own special type of victory, she kind of dabbles in cultural appropriation to get there and in today’s day and age, that won’t fly in a football program.

Next I thought about Usnavi from “In the Heights.” While he is a beacon for an entire community his wanderlust to some day escape Nueva York for the beaches of the Dominican Republic would concern me if I were Gene Smith. If the NFL ever expanded to the islands, I would imagine that Usnavi would jump at the chance to coach in his home country.

There were also a batch of characters that I wanted to consider, but they didn’t meet our criteria, like Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” Don Quixote from “Man of La Mancha,” Elphaba in “Wicked,” Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” etc. etc. etc.; all characters who originated in books before coming to the stage, so they aren’t eligible. Also out are great options like Tracy Turnblad from “Hairspray” and Mufasa from “The Lion King,” because of their obvious movie origins.

After going through all of that, when I was down and felt like I’d never figure out the perfect answer, that’s when I finally figured it out. The best possible person to lead a program with charisma, vision, ethics, heart, great tap-dancing skills, and a high, contemporary pop belt is none other than Kathrine Plumber from “Newsies.”

Kara Lindsay and company in “Newsies”
Deen van Meer for Disney Theatrical Productions

Now, I know what you might be thinking; “Newsies” was a movie musical before it became a stage musical, and you would be correct. But, Kathrine was not in the film, nor was she based on any real life person who was part of the actual Newsboys’ strike of 1899; despite what her fictional parentage suggests in the show. So, while I had to jump through some hoops to get there, she counts, and she’s my answer.

Kathrine is a remarkably talented visionary who sees success where no one else does. Her passion and fire inspires a group of rag-tag kids who are normally considered the dregs of society to band together for the first time in history in order to achieve unimaginable feats. She’s not afraid to speak truth to power, even if that power is her father. Kathrine is able to expertly craft a methodical plan designed to tackle major problems head-on, and she believes in the importance of team. While she might not be the face of the Newsboys’ strike, she is absolutely the one installing the game-plan and getting all of the players in their proper position from the sidelines.

And if Jami wants to dabble in wildly out-of-context lyrics, try these on for size:

And it just so happens that we just might win/ So whatever happens, let’s begin

If that doesn’t scream football coach, I don’t know what does!


Who has the right answer to today’s question:

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Jami: Dolly Gallagher Levi | "Hello, Dolly!"
    (12 votes)
  • 20%
    Matt: Kathrine Plumber | "Newsies"
    (3 votes)
15 votes total Vote Now