This year’s NCAA tournament showcased coaching legends and coaching unknowns, often in the same game. Now that the entire 2012-13 season is in the books, it’s time to ask: Which coaches are at the top of the college game right now?
One of the newcomers to the coaching spotlight is USC’s latest hiree, Andy Enfield. The coach who led 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16 is one of the hottest names in the game, and now, he’ll get a chance to show that he’s more than a one-year wonder.
Read on for more on Enfield and the rest of the 25 most successful, most respected and fastest-rising stars in the college coaching profession.
Why he’s here: Jay Wright has built Villanova back into an NCAA tournament fixture in spite of battling the country’s toughest competition in the now-dissolving Big East.
Stat that matters: 2009’s Final Four trip capped a run of four Sweet 16-or-better finishes in five years.
Sizzle factor: Even in the absence of enough talent to challenge for this year’s Big East crown, Wright put his team in the national spotlight by scoring a series of massive upsets in league play.
Why he’s here: While his former Fab Five recruits find themselves back in the limelight, Steve Fisher keeps plugging along with his eighth consecutive 20-win season at former backwater San Diego State.
Stat that matters: The Aztecs had three NCAA tournament appearances (and no wins) before Fisher arrived to take them to six Big Dances, including four in a row and counting.
Sizzle factor: Fisher could’ve stayed retired with quite a legacy after an outstanding career at Michigan, but now he’s molded also-ran San Diego State into a reliable Top 25 contender.
Why he’s here: Bo Ryan has forced every college basketball team (and fan) to pay attention to defense with his consistent success at Wisconsin—especially in the postseason.
Stat that matters: He has reached or passed the Sweet 16 five times in 12 years with the Badgers.
Sizzle factor: Sizzling is rarely the right adjective for Ryan’s teams, but his ability to win has forced everyone to sit up and take notice—and this year’s string of overtime thrillers even got the Badgers into some highlight reels.
Why he’s here: Scott Drew has rescued the Baylor program from the dark days of Dave Bliss and made it a postseason powerhouse, including its first-ever NIT title this March.
Stat that matters: Took the Bears to two Elite Eights in the past four years—two more than the program had achieved since the Harry Truman administration.
Sizzle factor: Any coach who can lure national top-10 recruits like Isaiah Austin to Waco, Texas, is doing something right in a big way.
Why he’s here: In just five years, Tom Crean has taken Big Ten cellar-dweller Indiana and made it a national title contender with two straight Sweet 16 appearances to its credit.
Stat that matters: The 2003 Final Four trip he made with Marquette was the only such appearance for that program since its 1977 championship.
Sizzle factor: Crean’s recruiting star is on the rise, and putting Indiana back on top of the AP polls will only improve matters.
Why he’s here: Longtime Creighton coach Dana Altman made his first career Sweet 16 as the latest milestone in his turnaround of the Oregon program.
Stat that matters: This coaching-lifer is up to 483 career victories.
Sizzle factor: The Pac-12 is rising fast after a strong NCAA tournament, and none of its coaches is climbing more rapidly than Altman.
Why he’s here: John Beilein was a few errant jumpers away from winning his first national title on Monday night, but even so, he’s fulfilled his mission to return the Wolverines program to national glory.
Stat that matters: Now at his fourth Division I program, Beilein has 415 career wins.
Sizzle factor: Riding high as the coach who brought Michigan back to the Final Four (and recruited Player of the Year Trey Burke)
Why he’s here: Thad Matta just missed out on his third Final Four trip, but the sensational recruiter still guided his star-driven Buckeyes to yet another conference championship.
Stat that matters: 20 wins is the lowest season total of Matta’s 13-year career.
Sizzle factor: Four consecutive Big Ten crowns (regular-season or tournament) have made Matta the hottest coach in that league, always an influential position to occupy.
Why he’s here: A California fixture—even his NBA sojourn was with Golden State—Mike Montgomery is the most accomplished and most experienced coach in the mostly green ranks of the Pac-12.
Stat that matters: With surprisingly little fanfare, Montgomery has piled up 653 career wins and counting (most of them at Stanford).
Sizzle factor: Landing McDonald’s All-American Jabari Bird for next year’s freshman class served notice that Montgomery is still a serious factor on the recruiting scene as well as a consistent winner.
Why he’s here: Jim Crews was thrown into the impossible position of replacing the late Rick Majerus at Saint Louis and responded by setting a new school record with 28 wins.
Stat that matters: Before Crews’ Billikens topped this year’s Atlantic 10 standings, the program hadn’t won a regular-season conference crown in 42 years.
Sizzle factor: In a great position to move out of his predecessor’s considerable shadow and become the kind of program-defining coach at SLU that Majerus was at Utah
Why he’s here: After only two years as a Division I head coach, Andy Enfield landed a Pac-12 job on the strength of a historic NCAA tournament run with Florida Gulf Coast.
Stat that matters: Zero previous 15th seeds had made the Sweet 16 before Enfield’s Eagles got there this March.
Sizzle factor: FGCU’s combination of Cinderella success and on-court electricity made Enfield an instant media darling—and an instant hit with the slumping Trojan program.
Why he’s here: Shaka Smart has transformed VCU from a curiosity into a legitimate national contender.
Stat that matters: 27.8 wins per season in four years with the Rams
Sizzle factor: Still on the short list of mid-major coaches every school wants, Smart reminded the world of exactly how his teams win with a monumental second-round evisceration of Akron.
Why he’s here: Just over 25 years after leading Indiana to a national title as a shooting guard, Steve Alford has joined another of college hoops’ 500-lb gorilla programs by signing on to coach UCLA.
Stat that matters: He won’t challenge mentor Bob Knight for a while, but Alford does have 385 Division I wins to his credit.
Sizzle factor: Alford goes from winning the conference title in the RPI-leading Mountain West to grabbing one of the most prestigious coaching jobs in all of sports.
Why he’s here: Brad Stevens took a Butler program few had even heard of before his arrival and led it to two Final Fours and (now) a spot in the new Big East.
Stat that matters: More national title game appearances (two) than seasons without an NCAA tournament bid (one)
Sizzle factor: Has helped his program jump from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East in the space of three years
Why he’s here: Mark Few keeps Gonzaga in the national rankings every year, and even this season’s Big Dance flop can’t erase the program’s first-ever top seed and No. 1 ranking.
Stat that matters: Coaching in the WCC—hasn’t missed an NCAA tournament in his 14 seasons
Sizzle factor: Being the biggest fish in the mid-major pond has given Few a unique niche as the standard-bearer for an entire category of coaches.
Why he’s here: Jim Larranaga grabbed national Coach of the Year honors by taking Miami to its highest-ever AP ranking.
Stat that matters: 29 wins this season are five better than the previous school record.
Sizzle factor: Success of the reclamation project at Miami has him well on his way to being recognized as more than the guy who had that one great tournament with George Mason.
Why he’s here: Gregg Marshall entered the season with one career NCAA tournament victory and finished it by taking a No. 9 seed to the Final Four.
Stat that matters: Has 333 career wins to back up his newly minted postseason success
Sizzle factor: With Marshall at the helm, Wichita State basketball is a player on the national scene for the first time since Xavier McDaniel graduated.
Why he’s here: Every year, Bill Self loses star players to the NBA, and every year, he comes back and wins another Big 12 title (with, usually, plenty of March victories afterwards).
Stat that matters: Six 30-win seasons in last seven years
Sizzle factor: Superlative recruiter who has kept one of the nation’s most prominent programs loaded with talent
Why he’s here: The SEC’s defining coach until John Calipari showed up, Billy Donovan has kept his Gators right with mighty Kentucky in the conference standings and the postseason race.
Stat that matters: Owns an amazing 31-11 record in NCAA tournament action
Sizzle factor: It says a lot about Donovan’s cachet that his current run of three straight Elite Eights feels disappointing.
Why he’s here: Another year, another Sweet 16 trip for Tom Izzo, who’s become one of the most successful postseason coaches of all time.
Stat that matters: Five Final Four appearances in 18 years in East Lansing
Sizzle factor: Izzo is one of the most respected coaches in the business, and his ability to poach Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris shows that he’s still a top-tier recruiter.
Why he’s here: John Calipari is the best recruiter in the country, and he’s just a year removed from his first national title.
Stat that matters: Reeled in six McDonald’s All-Americans in next year’s recruiting class alone
Sizzle factor: On top of the world at this time last year, Calipari’s taken a hit from a miserable season that saw his ‘Cats fall in the first round of the NIT.
Why he’s here: Roy Williams accomplished everything at Kansas except winning a national championship, and since his move to North Carolina, he’s got two of those and has the Tar Heels in their accustomed position as perennial contenders for the top spot.
Stat that matters: Captured a pair of national titles in the last decade
Sizzle factor: Even after a down year (by Tobacco Road standards), it's tough to top Williams' combination of high-profile position and personal accomplishment.
Why he’s here: One of the defining coaches of the old Big East, Jim Boeheim helped give the splintering league a great send-off with this year’s terrific March Madness run.
Stat that matters: 920 career wins are second-best all time.
Sizzle factor: In danger of becoming old news as the nation’s longest-tenured coach, Boeheim took the Orange to the fourth Final Four of his career.
Why he’s here: When his Cardinals were crowned national champs on Monday, Rick Pitino became the first coach in history to win titles at two different schools.
Stat that matters: First (and officially only) coach to take three different teams to the Final Four
Sizzle factor: It doesn’t get much better than being inducted into the Hall of Fame and winning the national title in the same weekend.
Why he’s here: History’s winningest coach, Mike Krzyzewski is also miles ahead of other active coaches in NCAA tournament success.
Stat that matters: Take your pick between 957 wins and four national titles
Sizzle factor: An Elite Eight finish in the Big Dance wasn’t half bad, but Coach K’s biggest coup of the year was snagging uber-recruit Jabari Parker for next season’s frontcourt.