The weight of expectations can bury even the bravest soul.
There is nothing quite like being at the top of the mountain in sports. There are certain programs where winning is not enough. Ravenous fans live in a world where championships are the norm and not the exception.
Many coaches have been able to use great facilities and great tradition but have not been met with great results. Whether it be a failure to bring in the top notch recruits or simply being unable to bring home the hardware, coaches have wilted under the intense spotlight of sports.
Therefore, we take for granted sometimes those coaches who have constantly proven their worth. Despite enormous pressure to succeed, they have found ways to live up to the hype and produce what all fans want: glory.
Here is a look at the top six college basketball coaches who currently have done the best job of dealing with high demands and producing remarkable results.
Kansas knows a thing or two about winning national championships.
However, Bill Self was the first person to bring the hardware back home to Lawrence in 20 years when his Jayhawks captured the crown in 2008.
In six and a half seasons as the coach of Kansas, Self has a career record of 183-41. That's a winning percentage slightly better than his predecessor, Roy Williams.
Five conference regular season titles and three straight Big XII tournament titles certainly helps the legacy as well. Only Williams has more tournament titles to his name and statistically Self has surpassed Larry Brown in nearly every category.
He has made the tournament every single season as head coach and four of those six season made it to at least the Sweet Sixteen.
Self also has brought in some great athletes during his time as coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. He has brought in seven players who were McDonald's All-Americans and three times he has had a player listed as a consensus first-team All-American.
Self definitely has pressure this year as well. After an unexpected loss to Tennessee cost the Jayhawks a chance at perfection, all eyes will be on Kansas to see if Xavier Henry and company can bring another title to Allen Fieldhouse.
With Self at the helm, don't expect things to turn South anytime soon.
Even if his career has been masked in controversy, Calipari has done one thing well: win.
Whether it be at UMass, Memphis and now at Kentucky, Calipari has found immense success. The ultimate smooth talker, Calipari has never minded pressure and expectations, in many ways he is the perfect fit for the passionate Kentucky fans.
Not only does Calipari welcome high expectations but he usually finds superior players to deliver the goods. Think about it, even at Memphis when Conference USA lost its major programs to the Big East, the Tigers knew that they not only had to capture marquee non-conference wins but they also could not stumble in the mid-major conference games.
Talk about pressure, every game was the opponent's championship game and yet in Calipari's final four seasons with the Tigers he lost a grand total of one conference game.
Calipari has six 30-win seasons to his credit, that's two more than Bobby Knight had his entire career.
Although Calipari has yet to capture the national championship, this year may be the year with John Wall and Patrick Patterson on his side. I need not go through some of the other big names Calipari has coached but it is clear that he has developed a model of consistency that few can argue with.
As long as Calipari succeeds at Kentucky, a program that can eat mediocre coaches alive, expect him to go up on this list. For now though, he will have to settle for the fourth spot.
Let's not forget the man who helped rebuild the Kentucky Wildcats.
In many ways, Pitino helped set the high expectations that have driven others like Tubby Smith and Billy Gillespie from the intense spotlight of the Bluegrass State. Obviously, Pitino is not Rupp but he did put together some amazing numbers as the coach of the Wildcats and has turned around and resurrected a Louisville program that survived the transition to the Big East and has emerged as a national power.
A national championship, five Final Fours, five 30-win seasons, six tournament titles in the power conferences of the SEC and the Big East are a just a few of Pitino's accomplishments.
Pitino has been used to the spotlight and has spent his entire career seeking the next challenge. Twice he left college for runs at the NBA and although those results were far from the success he achieved in college, it shows his hunger to prove himself and exceed expectations.
Although Pitino's time at Kentucky make him a sure candidate for this list, it is not like Louisville is a slouch. With two national championships and eight Final Fours to its credit, the Cardinals lead than Georgetown or Syracuse in these categories.
Pitino has also brought in and developed incredible players during his time. Let's not forget that he knows how to make some pretty successful coaches as well, currently 21 coaches in the NCAA are disciples of Pitino.
It's clear that Pitino is a man that lives for the tough game and has won his fair share. The Cardinals are in good hands and, thanks to their legendary coach, the fans can have big dreams for their program.
With this man at the helm, it is only a matter of time before those dreams are realized.
When you are the Beast of the Big East, expectations are always going to be pretty high.
Calhoun was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame and the numbers certainly prove it. Two national championships, six Big East tournament titles, and six regular season titles help bolster a long career in which the main man at Connecticut has achieved seven 30-win seasons.
Calhoun has assembled some of the best talent of any program over the past few decades. 25 of his players have gone on to play professional basketball in North America, including the likes of Emeka Okafor, Rip Hamilton, Charlie Villanueva, Caron Butler, Ben Gordon and Ray Allen.
It is no simple task to get all these high school phenoms to work in concert with one another. A team is more than just a collection of talent and Calhoun has been able to get players to not only work together but to live up to their potential.
He also has had to deal with more than a few players who left early and created a void of experienced leadership. Even the great programs have trouble when they re-load but Calhoun has helped avoid major bumps along the way.
Eight Elite Eights, that is only two behind Coach K and three more than Bill Self. Calhoun has proven to not only be a winner but to consistently provide a team that can compete for a national championship.
Perhaps nothing is taken for granted more than Duke basketball.
My girlfriend knows next to nothing about sports, but even she knows that the Blue Devils are good at basketball.
It's national news when Duke is not in the top 25 and even if they are the equivalent of the evil empire, that means just about everyone is waiting to take their shots when the Blue Devils under-perform.
Well, the haters end up waiting a long time.
Coach K has three national titles, a laundry list of great players, and ACC tournament dominance to his credit. Every year Duke is expected to perform at the highest level and they do just that.
Consider that since 1983, his Duke team has finished outside the top four once. He has 11 ACC tournament titles, 10 regular season titles, three national coach of the year honors, and an Olympic Medal to boot.
Oh yeah, let's not forget he helped lead the "Redeemed Team" to excellence. An international stage where defeat would have been all but unforgivable.
Say what you want about his lack of success in the recent postseason, but this may be the team to buck that trend and bring the fourth title to Durham.
You see, Duke has proven to be its best when the chips are down. The second people begin to see a chink in the armor is typically when the Blue Devils kick into another gear.
As a result, they just keep on winning. 10 30-win seasons, 10 Final Fours and the big man on campus does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Coach K will own the all-time wins record one day boys and girls and he will have won nearly all his games with one of the most heavily followed and talked about programs in the country.
Sorry to break it to you Duke fans, but Roy Williams take the No. 1 spot on this list.
When you have to deal with the expectations of not one but two of the most storied programs in the history of college basketball, that is certainly noteworthy. Considering that Williams not only had to deal with the heightened pressures left by Larry Brown with the Jayhawks, only to leave and come to his alma mater where his goal was nothing short of a championship, his success has been remarkable.
Williams returned to Chapel Hill to restore his university to its former glory and was expected to bring home a national championship which he had never won his entire career. However, in just five seasons, Williams has claimed as many national championships as his legendary mentor Dean Smith and claimed his spot as the best coach to deal with the pressures of college basketball today.
Not only the two national championships, Williams has seven Final Fours, five tournament titles, eight regular season titles and nine 30-win seasons at two of the most prestigious schools and conferences one can imagine.
Roy Williams has also collected some of the best talent college basketball has had to offer the past few decades. Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison were all Kansas players who ended up having their jerseys hanging up in the rafters after working alongside Roy Williams.
At North Carolina, he has been able to build future NBA teams with the depth and athleticism he has collected over the years. We all know that Tyler Hansbrough had one of the best collegiate careers of all-time, but Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, and Deon Thompson helped propel the Tar Heels towards greatness.
Perhaps the most impressive thing is that the Tar Heels do not seem to miss a beat. Even when they pick up the national championship and virtually the entire team declares for the NBA Draft, North Carolina still proves to be one of the top teams in the country (as long as they avoid the College of Charleston).
After winning it all in 2005, North Carolina backed it up with a second place finish in the ACC and yet another ticket into the Big Dance. In fact, Williams has never lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a head coach. No one else on this list can claim such a feat.
In truth, Williams does everything a major program could want. He brings in utter superstars, he wins big games, he wins conference titles, and he win national titles. He even does it all with a charismatic aura that cannot help but keep recruits coming and fans loyal.
Sports may be a cut throat business, but Williams is a pro and he is not going away any time soon.