Ranking the 10 Most Overrated Coaches in College Basketball
Improbable NCAA Tournament runs, a couple monster recruiting classes or a lone national title in 30-plus years of coaching are all factors in greatly inflating the value of college hoops coaches.
While many coaches are excellent basketball minds, they can remain overrated commodities, ones whose names carry far more weight than they should.
These commodities can also fall victim themselves to unrealistic expectations or uncontrollable variables, and it is certainly not their fault for being overrated.
In a world fueled by championship banners, an overblown career littered with underachieving rosters and the failure to produce consistent title-contending teams is too often dominated by the weight of one's name, say a coach with 900-plus victories and only one title?
Bo Ryan: His regular-season consistency with decent rosters is remarkable, but his postseason record is inadequate. Ryan has advanced past the Sweet Sixteen only once in 11 years at Wisconsin. Ryan is an excellent coach but receives far too much hype.
Paul Hewitt: A national title game appearance in 2004 was evidently a major fluke for Paul Hewitt, as he produced a sub-par record of 189-160 in 11 seasons in Georgia Tech—earning tourney berths in only five.
He also finished below .500 five times and could not turn his few elite recruiting classes into ACC-contending teams. Now at George Mason, Hewitt is still considered a seasoned coach, although his seasoning is a bit bland.
Jamie Dixon: Dixon tied the NCAA Division-I record for most wins in the first seven seasons as a head coach with 188, but what did he have to show for it? One Elite Eight appearance and a host of underachieving teams were the result.
He has arguably had three potential Final Four teams but failed to string postseason wins together. Last year's CBI title is plain embarrassing, especially for a proud program.
Mike Davis: We're all still waiting for Mike Davis to turn IU around, and Hoosier fans are still looking for an obscure way to blame Davis' failures on Kelvin Sampson.
The 2002 title game appearance was fun, but he failed to reach the Sweet Sixteen again and even missed the tournament back-to-back years before he was canned. A brief overdone stint at UAB ended uneventfully and he is getting a third chance at Texas Southern as interim coach.
A 115-79 record at another elite program (Indiana) is unacceptable, yet many predicted he would land back on his feet quickly. Whoops.
Matt Painter: One excellent season at Southern Illinois earned Painter the Purdue gig, and while he strung together six NCAA Tournament appearances—a streak that will end in ugly fashion this season—none resulted in anything.
Two Sweet Sixteens and a few early exits have Boilermaker fans restless, especially without capitalizing on the talented trio of Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twan Moore. The Big Ten appears to be passing Painter by.
Bruce Weber: Weber did an impressive job at Southern Illinois, going 52-15 in his final two NCAA Tournament seasons but whiffed at Illinois aside from the 2005 title game appearance.
Much of the 2004-05 season is credited to Bill Self, as he left behind Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head for the tournament run. Weber missed the Dance three of nine years in Champaign and made it past the round of 32 only twice, yet remained an upper-tier coaching candidate before landing at K-State.
Jay Wright: Back-to-back tournament appearances at Hofstra is difficult—something Jay Wright managed to do—but last year's 13-19 debacle at Villanova continued a trend of underachieving teams.
Granted, the program has had unrealistic expectations since the fluke 1985 title and have only been to the Sweet Sixteen four times since then. Wright's 2009 Final Four gave him major breathing room, but a 229-115 record at a "big-time" program is unimpressive, especially with 10th and 13th place Big East finishes the last two seasons.
A flawless wardrobe is nice, but it will not boosting his coaching legacy.
10. Mike Brey
Mike Brey and his turtleneck are headed toward their ninth tourney berth in 13 seasons at Notre Dame. Those nine dances have resulted in a grand total of one Sweet Sixteen.
In a brutally tough Big East over the last decade, Brey has brought reasonable consistency with 259 total wins but also has finished sixth or worse in the conference five times.
A good basketball mind leading a good program is never bad, but until he wins in March, he is not a big-time coach.
9. Scott Drew
Scott Drew did a remarkable job rebuilding a broken program and has doubled Baylor's Elite Eight appearances to four in only a decade.
However, should he be doing more with these elite recruiting classes?
Since 2005, Drew has lured 14 4-star and two 5-star recruits to Waco, but the underdeveloped players are beginning to pile up. Every program misses on recruits, but the uber-talented likes of Perry Jones, LaceDarius Dunn and Quincy Acy have not produced the success many expected.
Another talented group this year is underachieving as the Bears might not receive an invite to the Dance.
8. Phil Martelli
The 2003-04 season at St. Joseph's was fun as the Hawks blew through the A-10 en route to a No. 1 seed in March, with head coach Phil Martelli racking up national Coach of the Year awards.
Unfortunately, St. Joe's has one tournament appearance and has not finished better than fifth in the A-10 standings since.
Martelli's 17 years as coach have produced the 2004 Elite Eight berth and another Sweet Sixteen appearance but has only seen 300 wins.
The St. Joe's lifer cannot keep up in a dangerous conference and is wildly overrated as a superior coach.
7. Tubby Smith
Minnesota fans were gushing with excitement over the Tubby Smith hire in 2007, but they appear to be bored with underachieving teams and lousy late-season performances as his seat in Williams Arena heats up.
Entering this season, he has compiled a 103-68 record with the Gophers and has failed to win 20 games just once since his second year as a head coach (1992-93 at Tulsa).
The 1998 national title at Kentucky cemented his legacy as a title-winning coach, but he cannot be considered a championship-caliber coach any longer.
His turnaround at a tired Minnesota program was appreciated, but two sneak-in NCAA Tournament berths are less than exciting.
Smith has advanced past the Sweet Sixteen just four times in 21 seasons, and his name carries significantly more weight than it should.
6. John Thompson III
By the end of the season, John Thompson III will have made the Dance nine of 13 seasons as a head coach.
The impressive Final Four run in 2007 in only his third season brought instant credibility to his portion of the family legacy, although his father would be on this list if still active.
However, he has not advanced past the Round of 32 since 2007, nor has he finished better than fourth in the Big East since the 2007-08 season.
That 2007-08 season was followed by a 16-15 campaign and loss in the NIT's first-round. Elite programs and coaches do not suffer NIT first-round defeats.
The 2010 NCAA tournament blowout loss to No. 14 seed Ohio is also puzzling, especially with a roster filled with Chris Wright, Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman.
5. Ben Howland
Three straight Final Fours from Ben Howland and UCLA were both impressive and mind-numbingly frustrating.
Plus, it is never good when you follow those runs with three seasons without NCAA Tournament berths as UCLA has reverted back to its status as an average program.
Prematurely pegged as the Bruins' savior, Howland entered 2012-13 with an adequate 208-97 record but loads of controversy.
Howland is not a poor coach by any means, but he is unquestionably not fulfilling unrealistic expectations anytime soon with a 12th championship.
4. Tommy Amaker
Not many non-Harvard Crimson fans knew where the former Michigan coach bolted to following an unsuccessful and overrated stint in Ann Arbor.
Harvard's first tournament appearance since 1946 put Tommy Amaker's face back on national TV, with many stunned to hear he has been considered for decent head coaching jobs across the country recently.
In his over-hyped defense, Michigan had no business hiring a guy that went 68-55 at Seton Hall and was coming off a scintillating season in which the Pirates loss in the NIT's first-round.
A 108-84 record was the result of six years as head coach, none of which earned tourney berths. Amaker remains one of the most overrated Big Ten coaches in the last 50 years.
He has been rumored for jobs at Miami, Boston College and even Seton Hall in the last three years and appears likely to get another chance in an elite conference soon.
3. Steve Lavin
Fair or not, Steve Lavin was overrated before he took a seat on the St. John's bench in 2010.
Seven years at highly-publicized UCLA will do just that.
A 65-percent winning percentage at arguably the nation's most prestigious basketball program is grossly inadequate—and so are the 10 games he won in 2002-03.
He did reach four Sweet Sixteens, only to advance beyond once (1997).
A handful of impressive upsets and one NCAA Tournament appearance with the Red Storm in two-plus seasons have been nice, but his teams still boast an overall record of 34-31.
Still a very good coach, Lavin was unfairly judged at UCLA, similarly to Howland, but his tenure in Los Angeles remains over-glorified.
2. Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim badly needed the 2003 title for his legacy.
The 900-plus victories are impressive and put him in an exclusive Hall of Fame club, but his teams have advanced past the Sweet Sixteen just five times in 36 seasons.
Are Orange fans happy with a run every seven years?
He has just three title game appearances at age 68. Butler's Brad Steven has two-thirds of that and is nearly half Boeheim's age.
Furthermore, the potentially elite Syracuse program missed the tournament in back-to-back seasons just four years removed from the 2003 national championship and has finished fifth or worse in the Big East four times.
Player issues and program transparency problems are not helping either.
An excellent coach with an adequate legacy, Jim Boeheim is nowhere near the likes of Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski or even Roy Williams, unfortunately.
1. Rick Barnes
Texas, you are not the only program losing players early to the NBA. Any upper-tier program deals with one-and-dones.
The losses of Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton, amongst others, has been repeatedly stressed by broadcasters and others. It is no excuse to post a sub-15 win season and finish in the Big 12's cellar this season.
Rick Barnes has produced impressive consistency, reaching the NCAA Tournament in each of his 14 seasons along with one Final Four. However, five first-round outs and four second-round exits are poor for a team expecting to contend for national titles.
Barnes' teams have one outright Big 12 title and have finished fifth or worse on four occasions.
His elite recruiting classes have occasionally produced exciting seasons—but nothing to tout—and an embarrassing 2012-13 season is unexplainable.
Rick Barnes needs a dramatic turnaround in Austin to prove his worth, but for now he remains an overrated, high-priced employee.
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