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.


Geno Auriemma’s Legacy & A Correlation to Gender Bias in Sports

This is the time when college basketball begins to reign supreme in the sports world. The NFL season is over, baseball is slowly creeping back into relevancy and the NBA +NHL have finally hit the mid-way point in their season(s). College basketball’s popularity is directly correlated to march madness which takes the nation by storm every year.

Every sports fan loves March Madness. Office pools along with ESPN & Yahoo bracket challenges give the fans what they want, an opportunity to feel like a part of it all.

Question. When you’re filling out your bracket, which league do you fill your bracket out for; men, women, or both? The majority of you who get involved with March Madness (and are being honest with themselves) will say men. To be honest, I’m willing to be most college basketball fans didn’t even realize that ESPN gives you the opportunity to fill out a women’s bracket (That was until President Obama started making it a yearly ritual).

Side note; although ESPN gives you the opportunity to fill out a women’s bracket, notice that if you win, the prize money doesn’t come anywhere close to the prize for winning the men’s tournament challenge.

For those who don’t fill out a women’s bracket, this isn’t a criticism. Rather, this is just one of many examples of the gender bias that is still rampant in the sports world. To prove my point further; if I mentioned that there was a coach who’s won 9 National Championships and has 14 Final Four appearances but isn’t recognized as one the greatest basketball coaches of all-time, as a sports fan you’d say I’m crazy; and your right, I would be. However, truth be told, the only reason he’s not, is because he coaches women’s basketball.

Geno Auriemma is not only the best coach in women’s college basketball, he’s the best coach in college basketball; period. His numerous accomplishments trump every college basketball coach in America; the only possible exception would be Coach Mike Krzyweski (Duke Men’s Basketball; 4 National Championships). Here’s a brief list of his accomplishments during his 29 years as UCONN Head Coach:

  • 9 National Championships
  • 14 Final Four Appearances
  • 5 Undefeated Seasons
  • 6-time Coach of the Year
  • Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Auriemma and his teams are perennial favorites to win the national championship almost every year. He’s coached some of the best women’s basketball players in the world and his brand is synonymous with winning. However he doesn’t seem to get the recognition in the global sports lexicon that he deserves.

Outside of Connecticut and the occasional ESPN coverage (during the Women’s Final Four/National Championship), Auriemma and the UCONN women aren’t discussed nearly as much as they should be. If a men’s program was as prominent as UCONN, SportsCenter would be broadcasting live from their campus during every “big” game. Point being, there would be a hell of a lot more press and praise being sent in their direction then there is.

Just think about it for a moment. Sports talk radio would be buzzing about this team every college basketball season if it was a men’s team. The Duke men’s basketball team, who has had some great runs over the years but nothing close to the UCONN women, are talked about relentlessly during every basketball season. Other “powerhouses” like Kansas and Kentucky are always discussed and their coaches are considered the best in the game. Do you know how many championships those universities (Duke, Kentucky, Kansas) have over the past ten years; three. The UCONN women have four.

UCONN is a great example of the unfortunate gender bias that still runs rampant through our sports culture, especially college basketball. Given the success that a university like UCONN has had over the past three decades, you would think more would be said about their legacy among the elite in college basketball supremacy. Taking gender out of the equation, there isn’t a college basketball coach in the country that has the reputation or the championships that Auriemma has. The only coach in his “league” as far as accolades go, is (the previously mentioned) Coach Krzyweski.

Auriemma is one the greatest coaches of all-time. I will believe that until I see someone do it better than him. The winning culture that he has infused at Storrs is unlike anything we’ve seen since maybe the great Pat Summitt (another women’s coach who doesn’t get nearly enough credit). His accomplishments speak for themselves and it’s too bad that so many continue to overlook his coaching acumen.   The argument for whether or not he should be considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time shouldn’t begin with, “Well he coached women basketball.” Rather, it should begin and end with, 9 time National Champion, 14 Final Four appearances, and Hall of Fame coach.