In the illustrious history of the NCAA Tournament, perhaps no story has been as riveting as that of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Led by head coach Andy Enfield, the Eagles are the first No. 15 seed in NCAA history to reach the Sweet Sixteen.
As a result of this legendary feat, Enfield is approaching the active legacies of VCU's Shaka Smart and Butler's Brad Stevens as the nation's next elite coaches.
For those unfamiliar, Florida Gulf Coast is currently on one of the most magical runs in NCAA history. The No. 15 Eagles started their run by upsetting No. 2 Georgetown—a team that won the regular-season Big East championship and boasts a Naismith Award finalist in Otto Porter Jr.
They followed that win up with a victory over No. 7 San Diego State—a team led by NBA prospect Jamaal Franklin and legendary head coach Steve Fisher.
Behind their success has been Enfield, a 43-year-old head coach in his second year with the team. Prior to taking over the Eagles, Enfield had been an assistant coach for two NBA franchises and the Florida State Seminoles.
Never had he been a head coach.
In his first year with the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, Enfield led the team to a record of 15-17 overall and 8-10 in conference play. That was an improvement of five wins over the previous season.
One year later, Enfield is making history with a Florida Gulf Coast team that is 26-10 overall, 13-5 in conference and currently a member of the Sweet Sixteen.
If that sounds familiar to you, it's probably because you've heard a similar story before. That most likely came from the schools Butler and Virginia Commonwealth.
The universities where Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart reside.
Today, Stevens is one of the most respected coaches in the entire country. Not only is this impressive due to the fact that he's 36-years-old, but because he too is in his first career head-coaching gig.
Stevens was an assistant for Butler from 2001 to 2007 before taking over as head coach when Todd Lickliter left to coach Iowa.
In that time, Stevens has led the Bulldogs to two National Championship game appearances and three conference titles. He's compiled a record of 166-49.
To say Enfield is approaching his stature would be an overwhelming complement to the Florida Gulf Coast head honcho.
Smart, meanwhile, is the 35-year-old head coach at VCU. He too has taken his mid-major team to the Final Four, doing so with no prior head-coaching experience.
Enfield may have some work to do before truly reaching their status, but he's done one heck of a job so far.
For all of the hype that individual players may garner, it's the coach that has risen to power in today's college game. With an abundance of one-and-done freshmen, the task of constructing a successful team has been daunting.
Enfield, however, has managed to get the job done.
Much like Smart and Stevens, Enfield has built his name by taking experienced players to NCAA Tournament success. More importantly, he's led an underdog squad to upsets of national powerhouses.
Miami, Georgetown and San Diego State have already fallen to Enfield's crew—the only question is, can he join Smart and Stevens as Final Four alumni?
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