A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
Bureaustan (bureau + -stan) (4/18)
“Price action makes market commentary” (4/18)
“Who does not love wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long” (4/18)
“Recognize it, admit it, learn from it, and forget it” (handling a mistake) (4/17)
Srirachapocalypse (Sriracha sauce + apocalypse) (4/17)
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Entry from December 18, 2013
“Potential is what gets coaches fired”

"Potential is what gets you (coaches) fired” is a popular sports saying. Players are often acquired based on potential, such as great athletic attributes. It’s a coach’s responsibility to take a player’s potential and to make it translate into production. If a coach can’t do that, the coach often gets fired.

Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson said in 1985:

“Potential is what gets guys fired. You want someone who can do it NOW.”

The saying has been used in many sports, such as basketball, baseball and football. It’s not known who said it first.


19 June 1985, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Thompson remarks spice draft telecast” by Jerry Lindquist, pg. D-5, col. 1:
Telecast anchor Bob Neal asked Thompson (Georgetown University head basketball coach John Thompson on the NBA draft—ed.) about drafting a player based on potential. “Potential is what gets guys fired,” Thompson said. “You want someone who can do it NOW.”

26 December 1991, The New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), “Espanola Valley Basketball Classic features local talent” by John Marino, pg. D-5, col. 5:
“He is averaging seven points, four assists, and five rebounds. He has the potential to do really well, but you know what they say about potential. Potential is what gets coaches fired.”
(Said by basketball coach Lenny Roybal.—ed.)

29 June 2002, Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, “Williams not worried about seniors’ futures” by Gary Bedore, pg. 3C, col. 6:
“Teams are drafting on potential. College coaches have known it a while and it’s going to be known in the pro ranks soon, potential is what gets coaches fired down the line.”
(Said by Kansas University head basketball coach Roy Williams.—ed.)

Google Books
Sarah Palin and the Wasilla Warriors:
The True Story of the Improbable 1982 Alaska State Basketball Championship

By Mike Shropshire
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
2012
Pg. 66:
And a major league baseball manager, Whitey Herzog, had said: “Potential is what gets you fired.”

Twitter
Coach G
‏@GregRomero
Potential- as a result of not living up to it, is what gets you fired. What are you doing to live up to it today?
11:30 AM - 3 Oct 12

Twitter
DHaynes❗
‏@ASKYOMOMMA1
@Rottweiller2000 @Frobeus_NS @MikeMeltser I keep hearing about “Potential.” Potential is what gets Coaches fired & divides Teams...See Miami
11:19 AM - 12 Dec 13

Fansided—Detroit Lions Report
Detroit Lions Film Room: Matthew Stafford’s Potential Can’t Win Games
BY JUSTIN SIMON - DEC 19TH, 2013 AT 8:00 AM
(...)
And, as the old saying goes, potential is what gets people fired.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Wednesday, December 18, 2013 • Permalink