Dan Wetzel has a list of his Top
10 All-Time coaches, and true to form, we dissent in a few places.
First of all, #'10, Tark. Yes, he has won a lot, and so on. But
come on, he's not exactly been the straightest arrow of all time. Why not
make Ben Johnson the greatest sprinter of all time? The logic is about the same.
#9, John Thompson - ahead of Al McGuire? He was a fine coach, but he's not a
top 10 coach. Rick Pitino has had at least as much success as John
Thompson. He took PC and UK to the Final Four, and won a title at
Kentucky. For that matter, Dick Harp could go ahead of Thompson. So
could Vic Bubas, who probably had a much larger impact on basketball than
Thompson, since he was the guy who basically invented what we understand
recruiting to be today. No, not the AAU stuff. The national search
for talent. Bubas really revolutionized that. And what about Eddie Sutton?
He has some smudges on his record, but nothing like Tark.
At # 8, Phog Allen, not a bad choice.
Coach K is #7. He and Tark and Knight are the only active coaches on the
list, and K could have a long run left yet. At this point,
we're not sure why Knight would be ranked higher. The only reason we can
think of is that he had such an impact on the offensive philosophy of the
game. But he has also pretty much destroyed his reputation and, to a large
extent, his career. Really, he hasn't been an elite coach - in terms of
what his teams get done - for years.
Henry Iba. No argument here. As a matter of fact, we'd swap Iba and Rupp.
Rupp is #5. A couple of points here. First, winning in the SEC when it was
all-white, and the rest of the conference was football obsessed, wasn't exactly
brain surgery. Not to knock his skills as a coach, but FSU wins the same
way in ACC football today. It's deceptive. The line at the end about
how he kept winning despite being too bigoted to let African Americans on his
team - it's not exactly praise.
#4 Bob Knight. He's so hard to peg. On the one hand, he is a
genius when it comes to basketball. On the other hand, he's generally an infant
when it comes to life. People in their 50s usually have figured out how to
get along with people. His record of how he deals with subordinates really
damns him in our book. It's not entirely about winning. And even if it is,
he's lost that in the last seven years or so.
#3 and #2 - John Wood and Dean Smith. We'd swap them. The career
record for wins is great, but the 10 titles is insane. Who cares how easy
it was to get to the Final Four? You still have to win. And while Smith
got to 11 Final Fours, he only won two. Wooden won 10 times. He lost to N.C.
State...was there one other year?
Anyway, he's ridiculous. Check this out:
Indiana State record: 47-14
Led Indiana State to the conference title (1947)
Led Indiana State to the finals of the NAIA invitation (1948)
UCLA record: 620-147
Led Bruins to four 30-0 seasons (1963-64, 1966-67, 1971-72, 1972-73)
Led Bruins to 88 consecutive victories
Led Bruins to 38 straight NCAA tournament victories
Led Bruins to 149-2 record at Pauley Pavilion
Led Bruins to 19 PAC 10 championships
Led Bruins to 10 national championships, including seven in a row (1966-73)
During 40 years of coaching, compiled a 885-203 (.813) record
#1 Don Haskins. An inspired choice in many ways. After he beat
Kentucky in the legendary UK-Texas Western title match, Haskins said he was a
young punk and that he'd probably never get back again and stressed his respect
for Rupp. He was right, he never did get back. But Wetzel is
absolutely correct that he did miracles at UTEP, and it will be very difficult
for anyone to come close to what he did.