College Basketball 2010-11: Ranking The Top 50 Coaches in Division I
With the start of the 2010-11 college basketball season, the debate over the best teams begins.
But behind every good team is a good coach. Some coaches are elevated in status by sheer number of wins, number of championships, or simply the potential that is seen by those that know college hoops.
This is just one attempt to rank the top 50 coaches in Division I college basketball.
Tribute: John Wooden
No coach has symbolized college basketball more than John Wooden. For the first time in what seems like forever, the coach will not be present for the beginning of the season.
A man whose achievements will never be matched, Wooden was more than a coach. His contributions and inspiration cannot be measured in wins and loses.
While the excitement for the start of the season is high, the absence of Wooden leaves a void that will be impossible to fill.
No. 50: Dana Altman
Current School: Oregon
Altman was a last-minute hire at Oregon. While he may not have been the Ducks' first choice based on his stints at both Kansas State and Creighton, he definitely can coach.
It may take him some time to build the exact program he wants, but he certainly has the support of the fans and, of course, Oregon's wealthy backers.
One thing is for sure—he will never need to worry about new uniforms.
No. 49: Steve Alford
Current School: New Mexico
Alford left the Big Ten, and the shadow of Indiana University that seemed to follow him, to go out west to New Mexico.
So far in his tenure, Alford has improved the hopes of the Lobos, posting a record of 76-26 as well as breaking through last season by cracking into the Top 25 and NCAA tournament.
No. 48: Rick Majerus
Current School: St. Louis
While the big man made a name as the coach at Utah, leading the Utes to the Final Four, health issues forced an early retirement.
Majerus is back and has taken on quite a challenge trying to make St. Louis a relevant program. It isn't clear if he will actually succeed, but his record speaks for itself and makes him worthy of this list.
No. 47: Steve Donahue
Current School: Boston College
It isn't easy making a name for yourself in the Ivy League, but what Donahue did the last few seasons at Cornell made him a hot commodity.
Boston College jumped at Donahue when they parted ways with Al Skinner. Donahue once again has his work cut out for him, but if he can recruit solid players to Cornell, Boston College should be a cakewalk.
No. 46: Johnny Dawkins
Current School: Stanford
The longtime Duke assistant coach stepped out of the very large shadow of his alma mater and took the Stanford job two seasons ago.
He has had to work to build up the team with solid recruiting. He has survived the first two seasons, but he needs to step it up in his third to avoid the questions about his readiness to coach. He has the talent and now it is time to show his coaching acumen.
No. 45: Fran McCaffery
Current School: Iowa
McCaffery takes over for the Hawkeyes after successful stints at smaller programs. Coaching in the Big Ten will be a good test as he tries to restore Iowa to significance.
Iowa has great tradition and a very solid fan base, so if he can recruit and win, he should find it a very welcoming place.
No. 44: Mark Fox
Current School: Georgia
Fox had success in the West at Nevada but hit some growing pains in his first year coaching at a traditional football school.
Georgia certainly has the resources, but is the interest there? It will take more than a 14-17 record to keep your job, especially in a trigger-happy SEC where it is win or get fired.
No. 43: Tommy Amaker
Current School: Harvard
Amaker, another Duke product, was seen just a few seasons ago as an up-and-coming coach. However, failed attempts at restoring both Seton Hall and Michigan ended that talk.
He has, however, found a new life in the Ivy League, making Harvard a contender in the conference known more for IQs than NCAA appearances. A few more successful seasons and an NCAA tournament berth or two, and he may find himself back on the market for a big-time job.
No. 42: Lorenzo Romar
Current School: Washington
Romar has made Washington relevant again in basketball. He has led the Huskies to five NCAA tournaments and three Sweet 16 appearances, including last season.
He still needs to break through and get to an Elite Eight, but for now, the Huskies' fans should be much happier with him than their football coach.
No. 41: Jeff Capel
Current School: Oklahoma
Another Dukie—but not a direct descendant of the Mike Krzyzewski coaching tree—Capel is an up-and-comer.
A tough year last season had some questioning if he could win without players like Blake Griffin. If he can continue to recruit and win while avoiding some of the controversies that have plagued the Sooners, he will be in Norman for a while.
No. 40: Brian Gregory
Current School: Dayton
While an NIT championship may not be what every coach dreams of winning, beating North Carolina in any championship game is definitely a motivator.
Seeing how well Dayton played in last year's NIT makes one wonder how well they could have done in the Big Dance. That being said, Gregory has won 25-or-more games in the last two seasons. If he keeps this up he could get a big-time offer.
No. 39: Fran Dunphy
Current School: Temple
Another former Ivy League coach, Dunphy has been tasked with replacing the legend of John Chaney at Temple.
Not an easy task, but Dunphy is a smart guy and he has done a nice job so far leading the Owls to the NCAA tournament each of his three years—though they've lost in the first round each time.
No. 38: Dave Rose
Current School: BYU
There hasn't been this much excitement in Provo surrounding BYU basketball since Sean Bradley towered over opponents in the 1990s.
Rose has restored some interest and talent to the Cougar program and led BYU to four straight NCAA tournament berths.
No. 37: Randy Bennett
Current School: St. Mary's
Bennett has given Gonzaga some competition for supremacy in the West Coast Conference. He has led the Gaels to three NCAA tournaments
That includes last year's Sweet 16 berth. His teams have won 25-or-more games in the last three seasons.
No. 36: Lon Kruger
Current School: UNLV
Kruger burst onto the scene when he led Florida to the Final Four in 1994. Since then Kruger has faded away a bit from the spotlight.
Yet he is still within striking distance of 500 wins and he has even posted a 30-win season at UNLV as he attempts to restore that program.
No. 35: Rick Barnes
Current School: Texas
Barnes draws a lot of criticism, but there is no denying he is a solid coach. And any coach who has the cojones to stand up to Dean Smith and win nearly 500 games deserves to be on this list.
Barnes' teams tend to underachieve, but he still has shown the ability to recruit and win, even if he hasn't won the big one yet.
No. 34: Chris Mack
Current School: Xavier
Mack enjoyed a good first season as a head coach, taking over at Xavier for Sean Miller, who left to coach Arizona.
Mack led Xavier to the Sweet 16 and tied for first in the Atlantic 10 Conference. If he keeps this up, he will be a hot target for bigger programs.
No. 33: John Beilein
Current School: Michigan
What to make of Beilein? He was successful at West Virginia and left to take over at Michigan, where he has seemingly underachieved each year.
Much like his predecessor, Tommy Amaker, Beilein wins a few big games, but loses too many he shouldn't. Still, his record speaks for itself. Maybe the Wolverines will start making a run at the Big Ten championship this season.
No. 32: Bobby Cremins
Current School: College of Charleston
Cremins made a name for himself and got a court named after him at Georgia Tech. After leaving and heading to the broadcasting booth, Cremins was forgotten a bit.
Although a major upset over North Carolina last season made it seem like old times, it is hard to imagine—as good as Cremins is—that he can duplicate the success he had with the Yellow Jackets at the College of Charleston.
No. 31: Herb Sendek
Current School: Arizona State
Never fully appreciated at NC State despite taking the Wolfpack to five-straight NCAA tournaments, Sendek left for a warmer climate.
He found less pressure to beat the likes of Duke and North Carolina and he has done something that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago—make the Sun Devils look like a better program than rival Arizona.
He finds himself just outside the top 30 in this ranking.
No. 30: Mike Montgomery
Current School: California
Montgomery followed the standard story of "successful college coach goes to the NBA and fails." Following a winning stint at Stanford, Montgomery left for the NBA, but it didn't take him too long to come back to the college game.
He has brought some hope to a Cal program which had been mired in scandal and mediocrity since the days of Jason Kidd.
No. 29: Tom Crean
Current School: Indiana
You would think it would not be hard to be successful at a blue-blood program like Indiana. But thanks to sanctions, Crean has almost had to build the program back from scratch.
It is only a matter of time. Crean has proved he can build lesser programs and be successful. Shouldn't be much longer before he has the Hoosiers contending again.
No. 28: Mike Brey
Current School: Notre Dame
Brey, who coached with Mike Krzyzewski, has had success at Notre Dame. Yet he is still criticised for not winning enough.
Brey is a solid recruiter and Notre Dame would be wise to hold on to him for a bit longer. They are already paying too many football coaches anyway.
No. 27: Frank Martin
Current School: Kansas State
Martin is quickly climbing this list as he builds a winning program at Kansas State. He is also the modern-day Bobby Knight with his hot temper and emotional persona.
So far no chairs have flown, but he came awful close to bursting a blood vessel on his way to leading the Wildcats to an Elite Eight berth last season.
No. 26: Mike Jarvis
Current School: Florida Atlantic
Jarvis is another coach who left the sidelines and was forgotten for a while. He built successful programs at George Washington and St. John's.
While he may not have the same success at Florida Atlantic, he is only a couple of moderately successful seasons away from landing a more high-profile job.
No. 25: Scott Drew
Current School: Baylor
Drew may be one of the hottest coaches in college basketball, but he also may be becoming one of the most controversial.
The drama of the offseason aside, Drew has led Baylor to unprecedented heights and has them as a possible national contender. When you do that at a school not known for basketball, you get attention—both good and bad.
No. 24: Bruce Pearl
Current School: Tennessee
Speaking of rough offseasons, Bruce Pearl would probably sooner forget his. But if you look at what he has done on the court and not in his own backyard, you have to admit he is good.
He made people talk and sing about Tennessee men's basketball for a change. That is saying something when football rules and Pat Summit reigns.
No. 23: Sean Miller
Current School: Arizona
Miller burst onto the scene at Xavier and decided to take a position with a blue-blood program, taking over for a legend at Arizona.
While Lute Olson left under the shadow of controversy, Miller entered with a lot of work to do. He managed to finish over .500, but he still has his work cut out for him restoring the Wildcats.
No. 22: Matt Painter
Current School: Purdue
You have to feel for Painter and the rest of the Boilermakers. After losing one of its best players last year prior to the NCAA tournament, they again lost star Robbie Hummel for this season with a torn ACL.
Still, he has some weapons to work with and, as he showed last year, even without Hummel, Purdue wasn't that far away from beating the eventual national champs.
No. 21: Brad Stevens
Current School: Butler
No young coach in all of college basketball is hotter than Brad Stevens. In three years at Butler he has taken the Horizon League program to three NCAA tournaments and a championship game.
Despite being a missed half-court shot away from one of the greatest stories of all-time, Stevens has shown that even the little guy can still make some noise.
Why not higher? Well he is off to a good start, but lets see where Butler and Stevens are in about five years before we move him up this list.
No. 20: John Calipari
Current School: Kentucky
Speaking of a coach who could arguably be ranked higher, Calipari has only himself to blame. A decent enough coach, he has ridden his ability to recruit the best players and take them to new heights.
Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to keep his players out of trouble or in the classroom. He can get them in but can't keep them. He is also the only coach to have two different schools' single-best seasons vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
No. 19: Rick Pitino
Current School: Louisville
In his heyday at Kentucky, Pitino was arguably one of the best coaches in college basketball, restoring the Wildcats' tarnished program.
After leaving for a failed NBA career, Pitino found himself back in the Bluegrass State, this time at rival Louisville. He hasn't been nearly as successful and he has had a few teams greatly underachieve.
He also has the 15 minutes of shame from an off-court scandal, which may tarnish his own legacy—at least from a moral perspective.
No. 18: John Thompson III
Current School: Georgetown
Thompson has resurrected the program his father once established as one of the most feared in the nation.
While Georgetown is still not where they were under John Thompson Jr., Thompson III has made them respectable and, at times, a real national contender.
No. 17: Tubby Smith
Current School: Minnesota
Another coach on the downside of his career who came to prominence at Kentucky, Smith was never fully embraced at Kentucky despite winning a title.
After leaving, he landed with the Gophers, where they have been average at best. Still a solid coach, it is much harder to recruit at Minnesota than Kentucky.
No. 16: Bruce Weber
Current School: Illinois
It still remains to be seen whether Illinois won out in moving from Bill Self to Weber. Weber started out strong, taking the Illini to the title game of the 2005 NCAA tournament.
But since then, Illinois has not been able to get back to that same level. Illinois hasn't been bad, but they haven't been that good either. Self, on the other hand, has a title in Lawrence.
No. 15: Bob Huggins
Current School: West Virginia
Despite his success at Cincinnati, Huggins never went as far with them as he did last season with the Mountaineers.
Huggins—known for his fiery demeanor and variety of track suits—can be controversial. But he showed his true heart when his star Da'Sean Butler went down with an injury in the Final Four and Huggins embraced him while he lay on the floor.
No. 14: Bo Ryan
Current School: Wisconsin
Ryan has been a quiet success in the upper Midwest. At Wisconsin, he has enjoyed a lot of success despite his slower, deliberate offense.
His Badgers also helped the Big Ten win its first-ever ACC/Big Ten Challenge last season with a win over Duke.
No. 13: Jay Wright
Current Team: Villanova
Wright's stock soared when his Villanova squad destroyed Duke in the Sweet 16 in 2009. He, like the coach of the team he beat, builds a guard-oriented team that likes to run the floor.
'Nova is definitely a presence in college basketball as long as Wright is there.
No. 12: Mark Few
Current team: Gonzaga
Few brought the mid-major-level team to prominence. A team that many felt was a one-hit wonder has been a decade-long member of the establishment of college basketball.
Few has made Gonzaga a regular participant in the NCAA tournament and his refusal to leave for a bigger program has given hope to all the mid-major schools.
No. 11: Thad Matta
Current school: Ohio State
Matta may be one of the greatest recruiters in the game today. He, like John Calipari, seems to attract many one-and-done players. Yet, unlike Calipari, he manages to win year after year without those pesky NCAA violations causing seasons to be vacated.
It doesn't matter how many players Ohio State loses each year. It always seems Matta has someone in the wings to take their place.
No. 10: Jamie Dixon
Current School: Pittsburgh
Many were expecting Pitt to have a drop-off when Ben Howland left for UCLA, but it didn't happen thanks to Dixon.
Dixon, an assistant under Howland, knew the program and had no trouble stepping in and making them contenders from Day 1.
No. 9: Jim Calhoun
Current school: Connecticut
Calhoun has been the face of UConn men's basketball for more than 20 years. He has won two national titles in Storrs.
Recent health issues and scandal have tarnished some of Calhoun's legacy, but the wins and titles speak for themselves.
No. 8: Gary Williams
Current school: Maryland
Williams is another coach known for his fire-and-brimstone approach, but he should be considered one of the great strategists and motivators in the game.
Despite a lack of big-time recruits, Maryland almost always challenges in the ACC and that is due in large part to Williams. He always gets the most out of his players and it more times than not ends up being a win.
No. 7: Bill Self
Current school: Kansas
Self clearly has helped the Kansas faithful forget about being spurned by Roy Williams, who at one point said he could give a "s#@t about North Carolina," before he left Lawrence, Kan. for Tobacco Road.
Under Self, Kansas has done something Williams never could in his time: win a championship.
No. 6: Billy Donovan
Current school: Florida
Donovan is in an elite group, being one of only a few coaches to lead a team to back-to-back titles.
Florida has fallen on some lean times since the core of his title teams left Gainesville. Still, Donovan, an aggressive recruiter, is rebuilding the roster one recruit at a time—those that he can keep on campus.
No. 5: Ben Howland
Current school: UCLA
Under Howland, the Bruins posted their first undefeated home record in 22 years. He took the team to three Final Four appearances.
No. 4: Jim Boeheim
Current school: Syracuse
If you were to cut Boeheim, he would likely bleed orange. The man just keeps winning and coaching. Known for his zone defense, he has even inspired Mike Krzyzewski to play some zone.
As long as he has coached and as successful as he has been, it is almost difficult to believe he has won only one title.
He did have the Orange play man-to-man defense once. Once.
No. 3: Roy Williams
Current school: North Carolina
Ol' Roy—with his Southern charm and infamous slips of the tongue at press conferences—is royalty in North Carolina.
A direct disciple of the great Dean Smith, Williams helped bring the Tar Heels back to the top after the Matt Doherty administration failed. Two titles in less than a decade surely solidifies him as one of the best in the business.
No. 2: Tom Izzo
Current school: Michigan State
Izzo's hard-working, blue-collar style exemplifies what Michigan State is all about. His teams' hard-nosed rebounding and defense has made the Spartans a staple in the NCAA tournament and Final Four.
Though he has only won one title, it feels like more. He need not apologize for his offseason flirtation with the NBA. At least he didn't have an hour-long show to crush the hopes and aspirations of an entire city.
No. 1: Mike Krzyzewski
Current school: Duke
He may not be the most popular coach, but he is arguably the greatest in the game today. His four titles and 77 NCAA tournament wins are more than any other active coach.
Despite all the detractors, Coach K continues to win the right way. Never rocked by scandal and graduating a majority of his players, you can't spell Duke without K.