I know there will be a lot of angry fans over this article, but it occurs to me that there are a few coaches in college basketball that get a lot of praise heaped upon them who may not deserve it. Not that these coaches are not great coaches, but maybe not as great as some may think. Here are a few examples:
Jim Boeheim- Boeheim is Syracuse Orange basketball. He has won over 900 games while the coach of the Orange. Yet with all those successful years and with NBA stars such as Derrick Coleman and Pearl Washington, Rony Seiklay, and Carmelo Anthony to name a few, since taking over as coach in 1976, Boeheim has one national championship. He has been to three national championship games, three Final Fours, and five Elite Eights. Boeheim took over a program that went to the Final Four the previous season, and it took him until 1987 to get back to the Elite Eight. Syracuse went to four Sweet Sixteens in the first 11 Boeheim season, and never further.
Compare his numbers to Florida’s Billy Donovan, who took over a program two years removed from a Final Four (very similar situation). Donovan has two national championships, three national championship games, three Final Four appearances and five Elite Eight appearances in 20 fewer seasons. If Donovan stays a consistent 20-25 game winner over the next 20 years he will be right there with Boeheim in number of wins. But he could advance no further than the Sweet Sixteen for the next 20 years to have Boeheim like NCAA numbers. If Donovan went 20 years without an Elite Eight, he would likely be considered a failure. In fact, he likely would lose his job well before getting to that point.
Rick Pitino- Pitino presided over a dynasty as coach of the Kentucky Wildcats between 1990 and 1997. His players won their second national championship in three years in 1998, making three straight championship games. So he is thought of as one of the great coaches. But overall he was one national championship despite taking three different teams to the Final Four. He has been the coach of the Louisville Cardinals since 2001, has made four Sweet Sixteens, four Elite Eights and two Final Fours with no championship game appearances. Those are not bad numbers, but with the hype Pitino gets, you would expect a bit more.
Bob Huggins– I don’t know why this guy gets the credit he does. He’s made two appearances in a Final Four in his career. Two Final Four appearances is good, but hardly the stuff of legend. Brad Stevens has two Final Fours in his career. And he’s been to the championship game twice while Huggins has not been once. Huggins was in the Final Four just three years ago as coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Since then they have barely been heard from.
Ben Howland- Howland was dominant for about a three or four year stretch. His UCLA Bruins went to three Final Fours in a row from 2006-2008. But when he got there the first time and routed the LSU Tigers, it ran UCLA’s record in Final Fours to 28-3 all time. After they lost to the Florida Gators in the national championship game, the Bruins went on to lose in the national semifinals the next two years. So he has equaled the number of Final Fours losses the Bruins had in the their first 31 games in the next three.
Still, three Final Fours is really impressive. Three in a row is legendary at any other school. But since 2008, the Bruins have been mediocre. They have made only two more NCAA appearances since then, losing another game to Florida in 2011, their third NCAA loss to the Gators since 2006. And this season, Howland’s recruiting class was rated as one of the nation’s best. With a lot of returning talent, the Bruins were highly ranked at the start of the season, but they have lost to teams such as Cal Poly, USC and Washington State.