Charles “Lefty” Driesell is 89 and will turn 90 on Christmas Day. He’s been out of the ACC since 1986, when he resigned in the wake of the Len Bias scandal (for anyone who doesn’t know, Bias died of a cocaine-induced heart attack the night he was drafted by the Boston Celtics and Driesell was ultimately forced out in the aftermath).
During his time in the conference though, Driesell, a Duke graduate, was something else.
He came to Maryland in 1970 after a brilliant turn at Davidson, leading the Wildcats to two elite eights in his final two years and a 27-3 season before departing for Maryland, famously promising to turn it into the “UCLA of the East.”
That never happened - Driesell took Maryland to the Elite Eight twice but post-season disappointment became a fact of life in College Park, no doubt exacerbated by the whole UCLA thing.
But he brought an undeniable swagger and passion that Maryland had never known. He went toe-to-toe with Dean Smith’s UNC and Norm Sloan’s powerhouse NC State program, and when Mike Krzyzewski came in in the ‘80s, Driesell didn’t back down from him either. Duke really didn’t start to dominate Maryland, and so thoroughly piss off the Terrapin fan base, until he was gone.
After the fall at Maryland, he did some TV work - he was great at that too - and went on to coach at James Madison and Georgia State.
It’s hard to fully appreciate someone when you have a sense of competition with them but when that’s over, it’s easier. We can say this now: he’s a hard man to dislike.