The 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIJuly 31, 2012

The 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time

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    Grading a coach, the leader of a team, the teacher of young students, is an art buried far beneath the surface. Forget the spitting, yelling and stomping. Never judge a book by its cover. 

    We'd never let the animated personalities get in our way of properly rating the greatest coaches of all time. To be the best, one must breed winners, demand respect and preach honor and integrity. No easy checklist.

    After sifting through the history books, we've found our 50 greatest coaches of all time with an iconic quote from each. The ringleaders of greatness.

    With just a firm stare, these generals inspired an entire team, society and planet.

50. John Madden

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    The best way to gain more yards is advance the ball down the field from the line of scrimmage.

    The poster man behind the Madden video game collection, John Madden does in fact have as loaded a resume as he does an appetite.

    In ten seasons as coach of the Raiders, Madden finished with a record of 103–32–7, no losing seasons and a Super Bowl victory in 1977.

    The youngest coach ever to reach 100 career regular-season victories became an Oakland icon and eventually a color-commentating pioneer with his obvious quips and animated barks. His creativity could never be stifled.

49. Bobby Cox

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    And then you’ll probably have to write a $500 check. Or you can do what I do, write a $10,000 one and tell them when it runs out, let me know.

    The quintessential example of how slow and steady truly does win the race, Bobby Cox led his Braves to a division title every season from 1991 to 2005 (excluding the strike-shortened 1994 season) and won Manager of the Year four times (1985, 1991, 2004, 2005—the only person ever to win consecutive awards).

    While he did win the World Series in '95, it was Cox's mercurial nature that had fans salivating and watching closely at all times. He holds the most ejections of all time with 158.

    And somewhere out there, former power-hitting first baseman-catcher Dale Murphy is thanking his ex-manager for moving him to center field, where the intriguing specimen won five Gold Gloves and a MVP Award. Cox being Cox.

48. Bill Bowerman

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    If you have a body, you are an athlete.

    A respected figure of success at the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman was a track-and-field innovator and the co-founder of Nike, Inc.

    He trained 31 Olympic athletes, 51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 24 NCAA champions and 16 under-four-minute milers.

    And during his 24 years as coach of the Ducks, his squad only had one losing season, earned four NCAA titles and finished top-10 in the nation 16 times.

47. Lenny Wilkens

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    We should never discourage young people from dreaming dreams.

    Considering he led the Supersonics to their only championship in 1979, coach Lenny Wilkens deserves some love from the Seattle faithful.

    But it was his scripting of unselfish offensive dynamics surrounding strong defensive play that truly got the best out of Wilkens' players.

    While he remains only three wins behind Don Nelson for most career regular-season victories (1,332), Wilkens does have five more postseason victories.

    We'd like to attribute his success to a vibrant fashion sense.

46. Herb Brooks

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    You guys are getting bent over and they're not using Vaseline.

    Forget the 219-222-66 record he compiled as a coach in the NHL, forget even that he secured only a silver medal at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Herb Brooks' legacy revolves around one game, one miraculous showing. 

    It was perhaps the greatest upset in sports history, the illustrious miracle on ice; the United States defeated the heavily-favored, world-talented, physically-intimidating Soviet Union squad.

    Brooks believed in miracles.

45. Geno Auriemma

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    People say, "You got the monkey off your back." What monkey? Now we've got a gorilla on our back.

    This homegrown Italian legend has the numbers to back the reputation.

    Head coach of the UConn women's basketball team since 1985, Geno Auriemma has led his Huskies to seven national championships (1995, 2000, 2002–2004, 2009 and 2010), secured six national Naismith College Coach of the Year awards and totaled 804 wins (only 129 losses).

    Since enduring a losing record in Auriemma's first year as coach, the Huskies have finished above .500 for 24 consecutive seasons, completed four undefeated seasons (1994–95, 2001–02, 2008–09 and 2009–10) and even finished NCAA record streaks of 90 and 70 consecutive wins.

    A genuine leader on the hardwood sideline.

44. Jose Mourinho

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    Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.

    Real Madrid's current head honcho has numbers that continue to scrape greatness. 394-109-65 to be exact.

    But it was his home unbeaten streak that carved Jose Mourinho in the record books.

    From February 23 of 2002 to April 2 of 2011, Mourinho went 150 home league matches without losing. 38 (36 wins and two draws) with Porto, 60 (46 wins and 14 draws) with Chelsea, 38 (29 wins and nine draws) with Internazionale and 14 (all wins) with Real Madrid.

    Since 2002, Mourinho hasn't finished a full calendar year without winning at least a single trophy. Brilliant.

43. Tony La Russa

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    It’s my tribute to Moneyball. I’m not a big Moneyball fan. I have this little place, don’t have a big place. So what we do is we take the square footage between the right field line and center field and the square footage and from left field to center field, divide that by pi and we multiply it by bulls***, and then we pick the dugout. The field that’s closest to the dugout and that’s where Lance plays.

    After 33 years of managing, Tony La Russa can confidently admire his three World Series titles (Athletics in '89 and Cardinals in '06 and '11), four Manager of the Year Awards (AL in 1983, 1988 and 1992, NL in 2002) and his third-best 2,728 wins.

    His above response to putting Lance Berkman in left field and Allen Craig in right field for Game 3 against the Phillies in the 2011 NLDS certainly defines his brilliance.

42. Bo Schembechler

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    Those who stay will be champions!

    A fierce competitor on the Michigan sideline from 1969 to 1989, Bo Schembechler made his 21 seasons in Ann Arbor a bruising example of how football should be played.

    During his tenure with the Wolverines, the Woody Hayes pupil compiled a record of 194–48–5 and won or shared 13 Big Ten Conference titles.

    His brutal brand of football featured ruthless trench play, a strong rushing attack and a keen eye for opponents' weaknesses. A physical attack, complemented by ferocious practices that players had never experienced before.

    He knew what it took to breed champions.

41. Joe McCarthy

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    Any manager who can't get along with a .400 hitter is crazy.

    The first manager to win pennants with both National and American League teams, Joe McCarthy remains the ringleader of the famed Bronx Bombers of the '30s and '40s.

    While his regular-season win percentage of .615 is a record that remains to this day, some weren't as convinced that McCarthy was truly a talented manager, that he instead benefited from the talented Yanks squads.

    Despite Babe Ruth's hostility regarding the Yanks' choosing an outside person to manage the team, he was inspired by McCarthy and the team would eventually win seven titles under their new boss.

    The man could simply mesh talent.

40. Tom Osborne

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    I celebrate a victory when I start walking off the field. By the time I get to the locker room, I'm done.

    During his quarter-century as leader of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Tom Osborne's squad never won fewer than nine games in a season and won outright national championships in 1994 and 1995, as well as a share of a third in 1997.

    Behind a powerful ground game and tenacious defense, Osborne compiled a record of 60–3 over his final five seasons, becoming the fastest coach in Division I-A history to win 250 games.

    Like a fine wine...Osborne would eventually be elected as a member of Congress. The athletics-to-politics transition is still quite strange.

39. Bill Walsh

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    I caution against beginning or ending a quotation with ellipses.

    In just under ten seasons as coach of the 49ers, Bill Walsh finished with a record of 102–63–1, six division titles, three NFC Championship titles and three Super Bowls.

    NFL's Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984, Walsh popularized the mysterious West Coast offense, making it more focused on short, horizontal passes and stretching out defenses en route to building a dynasty.

    He always made those around him smile.

38. Al Arbour

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    We had our ups and downs. We had injuries. We didn’t play well. We lost confidence. But I never lost faith in these guys. I love them too much.

    Sure he's second all-time to legend Scotty Bowman in wins (782) and games coached (1,607), but that's not what made Al Arbour such a revered leader.

    After three solid, near-.500 years in St. Louis, Arbour made the trip to Long Island to take over the Islanders franchise, naturally in a beleaguered state and yearning for prosperity.

    From a 19-41 record in 1973-74 to four straight Stanley Cups between 1979 and 1983, Arbour transformed a culture and created a dynasty. He could maximize talent like few others.

37. Mike Ditka

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    Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal.

    Da coach of the Da Super Bowl-winning '85 Bears can never be graded by mundane statistics. Mike Ditka is far more than just another iconic figure cheering on his team.

    With former players Leslie Frazier, Jim Harbaugh and Ron Rivera each succeeding as head coaches, they naturally attribute their development to Ditka's unique ways. "...Being accountable, taking ownership, challenging yourself," are the main ingredients that Rivera points out that he learned from Ditka.

    Mike "C'Mon Man" Ditka is football.

36. Walter Alston

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    Individual grievances and pet peeves have got to go by the wayside. Generally, you don't have to worry about the guys who are playing every day, it's the guys who are sitting on the bench that are the ones that get needles in their pants.

    Wide-eyed "Smokey" Alston knew he had a bright future ahead of him when he struck out in his lone MLB at-bat during the 1936 season. Seven National League pennants in 23 years as Dodgers manager would sum up his success, but there's more to the story.

    He led Brooklyn to its only World Series championship in 1955, and then led the new Los Angeles Dodgers to three more championships (1959, 1963, 1965) after their heartbreaking Western trek.

35. Gregg Popovich

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    I'm seeing a little bit of unconfidence, a little hesitation. It's not supposed to be easy. Every round gets tougher. Penetrate hard. Good passes. Shoot with confidence. I want some nasty!

    As the longest-tenured coach with the same team in all four major professional sports, one might expect Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to garner an appropriate surplus of fanfare. 

    But the humble winner continues to quietly pile up victories behind the mundane, yet effective Tim Duncan-Tony Parker tandem.

    The two-time Coach of the Year has taken obscure and varying talent and produced, every single year. 

    With a record of 847-399 and a win percentage of .680, Popovich has already scraped immortality.

34. Woody Hayes

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    I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying.

    A glorious career highlighted by 28 seasons as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football program, in which Woody Hayes won five national championships (1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970), earned 13 Big Ten Conference titles and compiled a record of 205–61–10, came to a screeching halt in 1978.

    At the Gator Bowl that year, Hayes abruptly struck Clemson noseguard Charlie Bauman in the face after the latter's heartbreaking interception. Hayes was fired the next day, passion unfortunately getting the best of him.

    But Hayes' legacy remains glued tight.

33. Alex Ferguson

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    I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Football. Bloody hell.

    Perhaps the most beloved man in Britain, Manchester United's Alex Ferguson remains the longest-tenured of all the current League managers and has yet to change his ways in building his prestigious dynasty. 30 domestic and international titles to be precise.

    He runs a fair and disciplined program, featuring a team-first mentality. No player is bigger than the team.

    1,217 wins, 402 losses and a bevy of we're-sold footballers who believe in their leading bloke.

32. Sparky Anderson

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    I don’t know why the players make such a fuss about sitting in the first-class section of the plane. Does that mean they’ll get there faster?

    The head of Cincinatti's Big Red '70s Machine, Sparky Anderson became a mainstay in the hearts of Reds fans with his knack for winning ball games.

    The first manager to win the World Series in both leagues (Reds in '74 and '75, Tigers in '84), Anderson maintained his crafty and precise approach, while building a unique rapport with his players.

    And even after getting fired in Cincy following two consecutive second-place finishes, Sparky was determined to win another. He migrated to Detroit, where he took a raw young team and transformed them into pennant contenders almost immediately.

    A true spark plug.

31. Chuck Noll

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    Good things happen to those who hustle.

    One might expect the only coach in NFL history to win four Super Bowls to be a fan favorite, a beloved personality still hogging the football scene. But Sid Gillman coaching-tree member Chuck Noll was a different breed of legendary.

    The leader of the famed Steel Curtain of the '70s, Noll earned respect for his winning and caring nature. Under Noll, Joe Gilliam became the league's first African-American starting quarterback and Franco Harris became the first African American to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

    Even Tony Dungy, who played under Noll in the late '70s, eventually became the first African-American Coordinator in the NFL.

    Noll's legacy remains intact, and beloved.

30. Joe Gibbs

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    Failures are expected by losers, ignored by winners.

    It was clear following Joe Gibbs' second stint in Washington (2004-2007) that his time as coach had passed, but that didn't diminish what the old-school style general accomplished during his first tenure.

    A coach who preached work ethic, Gibbs led the 'Skins to eight playoff appearances, four NFC Championship titles and three Super Bowl victories in his first 12 seasons, often prospering with different, sometimes underwhelming units.

    Behind a ruthless offensive line known as the Hogs, Gibbs dominated the trenches, which allowed John Riggins and his running back counterparts room to explode. Three Super Bowls, three different quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien).

    Gibbs could always squeeze his players for the most juice.

29. Dick Irvin

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    There are goals, and there are Richard goals.

    He won a Cup during his first year in Toronto (1931-32) and then three more during his lengthy tenure in Montreal, behind stars Elmer Lach, Doug Harvey and Maurice Richard.

    Dick Irvin's teams would fight in practice, swing sticks and toss fisticuffs, but they always played with passion.

    In the end, his 692 wins would cement Irvin as one of the greatest Canadiens ever.

28. Barry Switzer

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    Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.

    One of only two head coaches to win both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl (the other being Jimmie Johnson), Barry Switzer became an admired figure on the Oklahoma campus during his time as coach of the Sooners.

    Known for properly constructing the wishbone offense and turning it into a potent offensive attack, Switzer eventually saw his Sooners set an NCAA rushing record of 472 yards per game in 1971 and score over 500 points in 1986 (508).

    With a record of 157–29–4 and three national championships, Switzer's credentials speak for themselves.

27. Tom Landry

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    Leadership is the ability to get a person to do what he doesn't want to do in order to achieve what he wants to's getting the best out of people.

    The stats speak for themselves. Two Super Bowl victories, five NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, a record 20 career playoff victories and an all-time record of 270-178-6. But those numbers aren't what cement Cowboys great Tom Landry as a gridiron god.

    It was Landry himself who allegedly invented the 4-3 defense, his own "flex" flow providing defensive lineman Randy White the opportunity to scatter around the trench area.

    And while he was clearly a pioneer, it was Landry's 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985) that headlined the record books. 226-95-2 during that time.

    All it took was his trademark fedora and a somber stare for his team to realize they were following a champion.

26. Pat Riley

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    A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.

    Five-time champion, three-time Coach of the Year, permanent legend in Los Angeles and Miami. Pat Riley only continues his climb toward the upper echelon of basketball prosperity.

    In 24 seasons as coach of the Lakers (1981-90), Knicks (1991-95) and Heat (1995-03, 2005-08), Riley only achieved three losing seasons (all with Miami) and 1,210 wins.

    Gel-pressed hair, vibrant smiles and constant displays of confidence. Riley in a nutshell.

25. John McGraw

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    Remember this, son. One percent of ballplayers are leaders of men. The other ninety-nine percent are followers of women.

    Taking his quick-tempered nature to the coaching scene, longtime Giants manager John McGraw immediately became a respected figure on the diamond.

    While he compiled 2,763 wins, 10 National League pennants and three World Series championships in 33 seasons as a manager with the Baltimore Orioles (1899 in the NL, 1901–1902 in the AL) and the New York Giants (1902–1932), it was his 131 ejections that truly had fans foaming at the mouth.

    Always a show with this historic leader.

24. Bud Wilkinson

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    If you are going to be a champion, you must be willing to pay a greater price.

    Dismiss his 9-20 mark as NFL head coach, Bud Wilkinson built brilliance during his 16-year tenure as leader at Oklahoma. Between 1947 and 1963, Wilkinson led his Sooners to a record of 145–29–4, three national championships (1950, 1955, 1956) and 14 conference titles.

    His squads even won an unheard of 47 consecutive games between 1953 and 1957, a record that remains.

    Wilkinson has also been attributed as the first coach to have his own television show, perfectly named The Bud Wilkinson Show.

23. Toe Blake

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    If the day ever comes when I can swallow defeat, I'll quit.

    As a Stanley Cup-winning spark plug for the famed Canadiens in the '30s and '40s who spoke immaculate French, Toe Blake seemed like the perfect successor to legendary Montreal coach Dick Irvin in 1955.

    But few could predict eight Cups in 13 years (including five in a row from 1956 to 1960). Tough, fair, disciplined.

    Blake breathed winning.

22. Amos Alonzo Stagg

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    Winning isn't worthwhile unless one has something finer and nobler behind it.

    In 57 years as head football coach at Springfield College (1890-91), the University of Chicago (1892-32) and College of Pacific (1933-46), Yale product Amos Alonzo Stagg won 314 games. And he even coached basketball and baseball in Chi-town, naturally sculpting future generations.

    However, it was his innovative mind that cemented Stagg as a gridiron legend. Word has it that Stagg created the end-around, hidden-ball trick, fake punt, quick-kick, man-in-motion, double reverse, huddle, backfield shift, Statue of Liberty play, padded goal posts and even started the numbers on players' backs phenomenon.

    It was Notre Dame great Knute Rockne who once said, "All football comes from Stagg."

21. Bill Belichick

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    This won't be good enough. It wasn't good enough today. It won't be good enough against anybody else, either.

    He may garner worldwide disdain and disgust from every non-Patriot fan on a daily basis, but Bill Belichick is the epitome of success. The man can simply win.

    Five Super Bowl appearances in 12 years put the icing on his already-magnificent cake of accomplishments. Forget cheating, forget arrogance, ignore the self-cut hoodie.

    Belichick found Tom Brady, won with Matt Cassel and continues to dissect opponents with ease. He's already achieved greatness.

20. Bob Knight

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    When my time on Earth is gone and my activities here are past I want that they should bury me upside down so my critics can kiss my [rear].

    One of only three basketball coaches to win a NCAA title, a NIT title and an Olympic gold medal, Hoosiers great Bobby Knight is recognized as much for his ferocious success as he is for his agonizing nature.

    Soaring chairs, entertaining tantrums and sarcastic quips toward media members have perfectly complemented Knight's 902 college basketball wins, standing as creator of the motion offense and reputation for running clean programs.

    Constantly scraping the border between controversial and legendary.

19. Casey Stengel

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    Been in this game one-hundred years, but I see new ways to lose 'em I never knew existed before.

    A unique personality with a flair for obtuse comedy, Casey Stengel won the hearts of New Yorkers during his time as Yankees (1949-60) and Mets (1962-65) skipper.

    The "Old Perfessor" won seven championships as manager and finished with 1,905 wins, breathtaking numbers when he called it quits.

    His light-hearted drollery always kept his followers intrigued.

18. Mike Krzyzewski

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    I think you're not a human being unless you have doubts and fears.

    Simply known as Coach K, longtime Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has done little to escape the illustrious spotlight he's continued to hog since first approaching the hardwood.

    After coaching Army between 1975 and 1980, Krzyzewski took his talents to Durham, where he led his Blue Devils to four NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season titles and 13 ACC Tournament championships.

    An assistant on the '92 Dream Team, Krzyzewski eventually led team USA to a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

    A teacher, a role model, a representation of brilliance.

17. Dan Gable

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    Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.

    Few realize the greatness that Dan Gable achieved while wrestling at Iowa State, but it's far from subtle.

    He only lost one match in his entire collegiate career, naturally his last, and won gold at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, not giving up a point.

    But as coach, he was perhaps even more untouchable, winning 16 NCAA team titles from 1976–1997. His success rewrote the record books.

16. George Halas

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    Nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else.

    He got his feet wet as an inventor, jurist, producer, philanthropist, philatelist and pro baseball player, but it was George Halas' endless tenure as head coach of the Chi-town Bears that cemented his legacy as a heroic sportsman. 

    Halas won five championships with the Bears (six overall), along the way becoming the first to have daily practices, the first to study opponents' game film and the first to have his games broadcast on the radio.

    In the end, it's his epic fedora and sweater vest that keeps us smiling.

15. Connie Mack

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    You're born with two strikes against you, so don't take a third one on your own.

    The longest-serving manager in MLB history, Connie Mack continues to hold records for wins (3,731), losses (3,948) and games managed (7,755). But don't let his loss total taint his success, as financial troubles forced Mack to rebuild the roster numerous times.

    While leading the Philadelphia Athletics, Mack became the only manager to win consecutive Series on separate occasions (1910–11 and 1929–30). Adversity never fazed this legend.

14. Pat Summitt

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    Confidence is what happens when you've done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

    While leading the Tennessee Lady Vols between 1974 and 2012, Pat Summitt secured eight NCAA national championships and a passionate generation of inspired fans.

    In 38 years as coach, she never had a losing season, compiling 1,098 wins (a percentage of .841).

    A fearless competitor on the hardwood bench.

13. Eddie Robinson

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    Coaching is a profession of love. You can't coach people unless you love them.

    Rarely do coaches remain with one program for their entire career, but Eddie Robinson spent 57 years (1941-1997) dedicating his heart and soul to the Grambling State football program, where he compiled a record of 408-165-15.

    But Robinson was far more than just another one-dimensional football coach. He also taught at Grambling High School and coached the girls' basketball team during World War II.

    A legendary human being.

12. Phil Jackson

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    Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.

    The zen master himself, a holistic innovator, a spiritual genius. Phil Jackson meshed philosophical creativity with a masterful triangle offense to create two differing dynasties, both breathtaking in their own right.

    From the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman-led Bulls winning six titles between 1989 and 1998 to the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers (with some early help from Shaquille O'Neal) winning five NBA titles between 2000 and 2010, Jackson cemented himself as a symbol of success on the hardwood. 

    Just a somber stare is all he exudes on the surface.

11. Morgan Wootten

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    Leadership starts at the top.

    It was iconic college basketball coach John Wooden who once stated, "People say Morgan Wootten is the best high school basketball coach in the country. I disagree. I know of no finer coach at any level - high school, college, or pro. I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it here: I stand in awe of him". 

    With the most hardwood wins on any level (1,274) and only 192 losses, one might feel compelled to agree with Wooden. But it was only when his DeMatha Catholic High School team ended Lew Alcindor-led Power Memorial Academy's 71-game winning streak that the world took appropriate notice.

    The man, the legend.

10. Red Auerbach

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    The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.

    Often seen hoisting a thick cigar and a witty smile, former Celtics coach Red Auerbach remains a pivotal figure in the development of team-focused basketball.

    He is also remembered for breaking league color barriers, eventually drafting the first African-American NBA player (Chuck Cooper in 1950) and introducing the first African-American starting five in 1964.

    Nine championships as coach, endless dreams fulfilled.

9. Paul Brown

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    The key to winning is poise under stress.

    No level was too simple or complex for legendary teacher Paul Brown.

    His high school teams lost only 10 games in 11 seasons, his Ohio State Buckeyes won their first national title in 1942 and his Browns (naturally named after him) reached the league championship game in each of his first 10 seasons (winning seven of them).

    But Brown was far more than an intelligent leader, he was an innovator who revolutionized the game of football. The first to use game film, the first to administer intelligence tests and the first to take play-calling abilities from his quarterback, Brown sparked the maturation of a blossoming game.

8. Knute Rockne

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    One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.

    From 1918 to 1930, Knute Rockne led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to prosperity and ignited their reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

    While it's been said that Rockne popularized the forward pass, it was his record that spoke the most volumes. 105-12-5 and three national championships. Scraping perfection.

7. Pete Newell

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    Morale is something a lot of people talk about, but seldom really address. You've got to practice it, show that you're committed.

    He won a national championship at the University of California in 1959, an Olympic championship in 1960 and the hearts of fans around the world. Pete Newell was a remarkable figure in the realm of basketball diehards.

    Newell started a world-renowned instructional camp for upcoming ballers, and is attributed as the first to use the “over-the-top” pass.

    The man preached disciplined offense and ruthless defense, keys to winning any battle. Few have affected their sport like Newell did.

    Perhaps it was the author of Newell's '99 biography, Bruce Jenkins, who put it best, “By the time he was 10 years old, Pete Newell was a crack poker player, a dedicated coffee drinker and a retired Hollywood actor."

6. Don Shula

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    Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.

    The only NFL coach to ever be permanently associated with the term perfect, Don Shula became a gridiron icon with his record 347 wins and disciplined style.

    He was named Sportsman of the Year in 1993, reached six Super Bowls (winning two) and completed the league's only fully perfect season in '72, clawing at immortality.

5. Scotty Bowman

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    I love Barry Manilow.

    As NHL head coach and winner of our own humorous quote contest, Scotty Bowman totaled a record 1,244 wins in the regular season and 223 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and won a record nine Stanley Cups with the Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979), Penguins (1992) and Red Wings (1997, 1998 and 2002).

    While other coaches were in-and-out of the league, Bowman was adjusting to the ever-changing hockey game and adapting to the increased media.

    Three decades of greatness.

4. Bear Bryant

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    Losing doesn’t make me want to quit. It makes me want to fight that much harder.

    Paul W. Bryant Museum, Paul W. Bryant Hall, Paul W. Bryant Drive and Bryant–Denny Stadium...all named in Paul "Bear" Bryant's honor.

    While he was head coach at Maryland (1945), Kentucky (1946-53) and Texas A&M (1954-57), it was Bryant's 25-year tenure at Alabama that truly crafted his illustrious legacy. Six national championships, 13 conference championships and 232 wins (46 losses) with the Crimson Tide to be exact.

    Even so, we'll always remember his plaid suits, intricately-woven hats and carefree lean against the goal posts before kickoff. And dare we forget the tightly rolled-up gameplan.

3. Dean Smith

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    I always mean what I say, but I don't always say what I'm thinking.

    During his 36 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1961-1997), Dean Smith racked up a then-record 879 victories, two national titles and 11 Final Four appearances.

    Yet it was his old-school approach to teaching and his impact on desegregation that truly made him a hero to all sports fans. Charles Scott became the first black scholarship athlete at Carolina, pioneering the way for many.

    Smith ran clean programs, preached hard work and respect and dominated.

2. Vince Lombardi

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    It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.

    It's no coincidence that this legendary Cheesehead coach has his name scripted on the Super Bowl Trophy, eloquently known as the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

    He only coached the Packers for seven years, but immediately made his mark, winning three straight league championships and five overall, the first two Super Bowls ever and the hearts of Wisconsin faithful.

    Few individuals better exemplify determination and victory.

1. John Wooden

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    Ability is a poor man's wealth.

    A motivational figure on the court sidelines during his time at UCLA, John Wooden had a unique way of inspiring his players with just a simple, calm approach to success.

    As a result, Wooden secured ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period (including seven in a row), an untouchable feat.

    The Wizard of Westwood was beloved by players and respected by fans. The true definition of a hero.


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