Midwest Well Represented in All-time Coaches Poll


By Paul M. Banks

If there’s one thing the Midwest can produce (in addition to soybeans and corn) it’s coaches. When the new Sporting News Magazine hits newsstands this week, it’ll include a 14 page feature containing the 50 greatest coaches of all time, and the Midwestern region of the United States will be heavily represented.

Penn State’s Joe Paterno checked in at No. 13, the highest-ranked current college football coach on the list. Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was No. 27, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler was No. 36 and Chicago’s Amos Alonzo Stagg (the namesake of my high school in Palos Hills, IL) was No. 40. The Big Ten’s four picks were the most of any college conference. And it doesn’t include former Indiana men’s basketball coach and current evil douchebag Bobby Knight, ranked No. 16.

Former Purdue student-athlete and UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden was the runaway #1, picking up 57 first-place votes from SN’s panel, which includes seven World Series-winning managers, four Super Bowl champion coaches and the winningest coaches in the NBA, NHL and college basketball.

Wooden, who won a record 10 Division I men’s basketball championships in 12 years, got the biggest challenge from Green Bay Packers great Vince Lombardi. Rounding out the top 20: 3. Bear Bryant 4. Phil Jackson 5. Don Shula 6. Red Auerbach (NBA), 7. Scotty Bowman (NHL), 8. Dean Smith (college basketball), 9. Casey Stengel (MLB), 10. Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne, 11. Pat Summitt (women’s college basketball), 12. Ohio’s favorite son Paul Brown (NFL), 13. Joe Pa 14. Chicago and the University of Illinois’ “Papa Bear” George Halas 15. Chuck Noll 16. Bob Knight (college basketball), 17. Joe Gibbs (NFL), 18. Tom Landry (NFL), 19. Mike “Coach K.” Krzyzewski and 20. the grey hooded sweatshirt genius of Bill Belichick.

The current proprietor of the Los Angeles Lake Show, Phil Jackson, has obvious Midwest connections, as he built his name, reputation and first dynasty right here in Chicago.

Chicago Blackhawks Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations Scotty Bowman checked in at #7. Bowman is the highest ranked National Hockey League coach on the list, as selected by a panel of 118 Hall of Famers, championships coaches and other experts.

“I feel honored and privileged to be considered in such elite company,” Bowman said. “It is a reflection on the many great Hall of Fame players that I had the good fortune to coach.”


Bowman, who joined the Blackhawks Hockey Operations Department on July 31, 2008, has been a member of 11 Stanley Cup winning teams since 1973, which includes an NHL record nine as a head coach. The Montreal native is also the NHL’s all-time leader with 1,224 regular-season wins and 223 postseason victories. Prior to joining the Blackhawks, Bowman has held a position in professional hockey since 1967.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1991, Bowman is the only man in the history of the sport to lead three different teams to the Stanley Cup and has reached the league Finals 13 times as a bench boss. As a head coach, he has captured the Cup with the Montreal Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979), Pittsburgh Penguins (1992) and Red Wings (1997, 1998 and 2002). He served as the director of player development on Pittsburgh’s 1991 Stanley Cup winning club and most recently celebrated his 11th league title with the Red Wings in 2008.



The entire list is as follows:

1. John Wooden, college basketball

2. Vince Lombardi, NFL
3. Bear Bryant, college football
4. Phil Jackson, NBA
5. Don Shula, NFL
6. Red Auerbach, NBA
7. Scotty Bowman, NHL
8. Dean Smith, college basketball
9. Casey Stengel, MLB
10. Knute Rockne, college football

11. Pat Summitt, women’s college basketball
12. Paul Brown, NFL
13. Joe Paterno, college football
14. George Halas, NFL
15. Chuck Noll, NFL
16. Bob Knight, college basketball
17. Joe Gibbs, NFL
18. Tom Landry, NFL
19. Mike Krzyzewski, college basketball
20. Bill Belichick, NFLbelichickdrevil

21. Adolph Rupp, college basketball
22. Joe McCarthy, MLB
23. Eddie Robinson, college football
24. Bobby Bowden, college football
25. John McGraw, MLB
26. Bill Walsh, NFL
27. Woody Hayes, college football
28. Connie Mack, MLB
29. Bud Wilkinson, college football
30. Pat Riley, NBA

31. Pete Newell, college basketball
32. Joe Torre, MLB
33. Bill Parcells, NFL
34. Tom Osborne, college football
35. Walter Alston, MLB
36. Bo Schembechler, college football
37. Toe Blake, NHL
38. Sparky Anderson, MLB
39. Al Arbour, NHL
40. Amos Alonzo Stagg, college football

41. Tony La Russa, MLB
42. Geno Auriemma, women’s college basketball
43. Dick Irvin, NHL
44. Ara Parseghian, college football
45. Chuck Daly, NBA
46. Bobby Cox, MLB
47. Hank Iba, college basketball
48. Tommy Lasorda, MLB
49. Gregg Popovich, NBA
50. Herb Brooks, NHL