clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chris Collins Gets An Extension At Northwestern

After a tremendous season, he deserved it.

Northwestern v UCLA
 SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 18: Head coach Chris Collins of the Northwestern Wildcats is seen during the first half against the UCLA Bruins in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 18, 2023 in Sacramento, California.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Former Duke guard and assistant coach Chris Collins and Northwestern have agreed to a contract extension which will run through 2027-28, which leads to an interesting question: is he now the best coach in Northwestern history?

That’s a trickier question than it looks like. If you limit it to wins and losses and tournament appearances at Northwestern, then yes. But Northwestern has had some decent coaches who found the job to be a coach killer.

Among them are former Duke coach Bill Foster, who did well at Rutgers and Utah before moving to Duke and getting to the 1978 championship game and the 1980 Elite Eight. Tex Winter also coached there and was just 42-89. Later his Triangle offense would have a huge impact on the NBA via Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. And Bill Carmody was an outstanding coach at Princeton before going 192-210 with the Wildcats over a 13-year career.

Since World War II, only one coach has finished his Northwestern career over .500 and that was Arthur Lonborg, who coached there from 1927-1950 and finished - get this - 236-203-1. According to Wikipedia, “ Due to a scoring error during the Notre Dame game in 1936, a game which was originally ruled a 21–20 win for Notre Dame was determined to be a tie when it was discovered Notre Dame had received one more point than they had actually scored. Notre Dame returned to the court to finish the game, but Northwestern refused to return to the court. The Wildcats left the building and the game was deemed a tie.“

Collins himself is still under .500 for his career at 118-134 and prior to this season, the last handful of seasons were not good. After getting Northwestern to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever in 2016-17, the Wildcats went in a tailspin, finishing 15-17, 13-19, 8-22, 9-15 and 15-16 before this past season, where Northwestern finished 22-12 and second in the Big Ten and got back to the tournament.

As we always say, toss out the Covid year, but even then, it’s been tough.

This past season though, Collins had a smart, tough team that defended brilliantly and of course he is the only coach to ever get Northwestern to the tournament, and now he’s done it twice.

Northwestern takes academics seriously and it’s always been tough for that school to compete in the Big Ten. Collins has shown he can do it though, so he’s going to stick around his hometown school for a good while. The next step is to be consistently good.