In The Pantheon of College Basketball Coaches: Auriemma is King

The Men’s and Women’s College Basketball season officially ended Tuesday night when the UConn women defeated Notre Dame to capture their third straight national championship. Duke held off Wisconsin the night before to capture their second title in five years. Arguably the two biggest schools coached by the two greatest coaches in their given sport, won the title this year and yet one coach’s accomplishments are being overlooked by the other; and it’s unclear as to why.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) won his fifth title Monday night, putting him in elite company. The only coach to have more national titles in Men’s College Basketball is the great John Wooden (who won 10 titles in 12 years). Krzyzewski is without a doubt the most accomplished coach of this generation. During his 40 years of coaching (first five years were at Army) he’s won 5 titles (all at Duke), been to 12 Final Four’s and has won 1,018 games. He’s also coached the U.S. Men’s Olympic team to two straight gold medals. With the exception of Wooden, there’s not coach in the history of Men’s College Basketball whose accolades come close to Krzyzewski’s.      

With all that being said, his accomplishments are nowhere near as impressive as the coach who just won his third straight National Championship and tenth overall.

On Tuesday night, Geno Auriemma cemented his legacy as the greatest women’s basketball coach of all-time; and is well on his way to becoming the greatest men’s and women’s college basketball coach ever. His accomplishments are too many to list, so we’ll stick to the basics. He’s won 10 titles (and is 10-0 in title games), been to 15 Final Four’s, won 918 games and coached the Women’s Olympic Basketball team to 2 gold medals. There isn’t another current or active coach that matches Auriemma’s resume. Coach K is a close second with his five national titles but he’s 5-4 in title games while Auriemma is still perfect.

If you’re still not convinced of Auriemma’s brilliance here’s a stat that should put you over the top. Since 1995 (the year that the UConn Women won their first title) Auriemma has coached the UConn Women to 10 titles. No other teams in college and/or professional sports have won more than 5.

Let’s let that skink in for a moment.

In a twenty year span, they’ve doubled the amount of championships of any professional/college team. That’s unbelievable. There’s never been a coach in the history of college basketball (or pro for that matter, but that’s a whole other topic) who has been this dominant for this long. Yes, what John Wooden did was incredible, but he also did it in a diluted era of college ball. It only took a couple games to make it to the title game, whereas now, a team has to win six before they can be crowned champions. Not to mention the level of competition is a hell of a lot more competitive now, then it was back in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

In my opinion, Auriemma is the greatest college basketball coach of all-time. He’s single handedly revolutionized a sport that has never received the “mainstream” coverage that it deserved. Women’s (College & Pro) basketball’s popularity is a result of his success; after all, half of the WNBA is made up of his former players. The man is a perfect 10-0 in title games, not to mention his 5 undefeated seasons along with a NCAA record of 90 consecutive wins. How anyone can argue against his run of excellence is beyond me.

Even if you don’t believe he’s the best of all time, you can’t deny his place on the Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaches for both men and women. His run of excellence and domination in a sport is something that may never be seen again; so please take off those rose colored/gender biased goggles a give the man his due.

 

***The “You” I was referring to throughout this post was for the mainstream media and those sexist sports fans that are unwilling to give Auriemma his due because he’s not a Men’s basketball coach.