Thursday, July 30, 2009

Best coaches ever

The Sporting News released its list of all-time best coaches, across all major sports--professional and college--in its online edition today. The list of 50 was selected by a blue-chip panel of coaches, athletic administrators and even a team owner or two.

The top two are not surprising--John Wooden, former UCLA basketball head coach, and Vince Lombardi, coach of the NFL Green Bay Packers. Wooden, as we all know, had 10 national championships and a career winning percentage of .806. Lombardi won five NFL titles and did it only coaching a total of nine years.

After these two, the top five are Bear Bryant (Alabama football), Phil Jackson (NBA Bulls and Lakers) and Don Shula (Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins.) Of these, Jackson will probably be the one which elicits the most argument but the guy has won an NBA record 10 championships. Yes, he had Michael, Scottie, Shaq and Kobe during his tenure at the two franchises, but he also had guys like Cartwright, Kerr, Paxson, Fisher and others who aren't exactly household hoops names.

Of local interest are:

#8 - Dean Smith, North Carolina basketball (played at Kansas)
#16 - Bob Knight, Indiana and Texas Tech basketball
#19 - Mike Krzyzewski, Duke basketball
#21 - Adolph Rupp, Kentucky basketball (played at Kansas)
#29 - Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma football
#34 - Tom Osborne, Nebraska football
#47 - Henry Iba, Oklahoma State basketball

The magazine did not list the criteria used for selecting the coaches but a high premium was obviously placed on number of national titles or professional championships.

There are, as with any list of this type, notables who did not make the cut. Near and dear to my heart is Phog Allen of Kansas--the acknowledged "father of basketball coaching" did not make the list even though he won national titles in 1922, 1923 and 1952, and was instrumental in getting basketball to be accepted as an Olympic sport.

The late Herb Brooks made the list at #50. At first glance, this seems like a sentimental pick as Brooks will always be remembered as the guy who masterminded the United States' monumental upset of Russia in Olympic hockey in 1980. Yet, Brooks did have success in the sport--his three national titles at the University of Minnesota prior to coaching the '80 Olympic team. Brooks was one of five hockey coaches who made the list--Scotty Bowman was the highest at #7.

One woman made her way onto the list--Pat Summitt of Tennessee was voted #11. Summitt was very deserving of the honor given her eight national championships and the fact that in the 28-year history of the NCAA Womens Tournament, Summitt's Vols have been to the Final Four 18 times!

In all, the Top 50 break down as follows:
- College football = 11
- NFL = 10
- MLB = 10
- College basketball = 9
- NBA = 5
- NHL = 5

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