Basketball Coaching Legend John Wooden Passes Away


One of the greatest coaches in the history of sport, John Wooden passed away on Friday, June 4th, 2010 at the age of 99.

He was born on October 14th, 1910 in the small town of Hall, Indiana, and as a youngster grew to love the game of basketball that captivates the heart of most Indianans.

When he was 14, his family moved to the town of Martinsville, Indiana, where he led the local high school to the state championship final for three straight seasons (winning one).

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Midwest Well Represented in All-time Coaches Poll

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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.”

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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.

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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

Top Ten Coaching Jobs in College Basketball

By: David K.

Billy Gillespie gets the boot at Kentucky after not meeting expectations in his two seasons.  John Calipari is attempting to pick up the pieces in Lexington as he bolts from Memphis to help re-build UK.  Tony Bennett leaves Washington State for Virginia while VCU’s Anthony Grant makes the jump from mid-major to major conference by taking the reigns at Alabama.  Ah yes, the college basketball coaching carousel is already spinning round and round.

When Tom Crean left Marquette to become the head coach at Indiana last year, his reasoning was simple; “Because It’s Indiana.  It’s Indiana.”  That sparked debate among my friends and me about the top ten coaching jobs in college basketball. Here is my list ranked 1-10, meaning if you left job #8 for job #6, it would be considered a step-up.

I took into consideration the following factors:
-the history of the program’s success
-success of the team under their current coach
-the longevity of past coach’s tenures
-recruiting abilities

10. Indiana-
This position has certainly taken a hit since the whole Kelvin Sampson debacle.  But as Tom Crean demonstrated when he left Marquette for IU, it is still a very desirable destination because “It’s Indiana.  It’s Indiana.”

Bob Knight not only left his stamp on this job by winning three NCAA Championships, but also because of his eccentric personality.  However, since the General took the Hoosiers to the Final Four in 1992, IU has only returned once (in 2002 as a five-seed in a season they finished with 12 losses.)  In fact, the program has had 13 double-digit loss seasons since 1994-’95 and have not made in past the second round of the tourney.

Long-term history helps Indiana’s stock, but if Crean does not get the Hoosiers back on the winning track soon, this job will continue to lose some of its glamour.

9. Arizona-

It is to be assumed that ‘Zona interim coach Russ Pennell will not retained after this off-season.   Arizona has already stated that they intend to hold a national search to fill the up-coming vacancy, and there should be a plethora of quality coaching candidates wanting to come to the desert this off-season.

The legendary Lute Olsen built the Wildcats into a national powerhouse before having to retire due to health reasons.  ‘Zona has made 25 straight trips to the tourney and because of it’s location out west, it is always a hotbed for high school recruits from all over the U.S.

8. Michigan State-
Since 1976 only two men have been in charge of the MSU program, Jud Heathcoate and Tom Izzo.  Izzo took the reigns in ’95 as has led the Spartans to a National Title and eleven straight trips to the Big Dance.  State hasn’t finished with a below .500 record in more than twenty years.

Sparty has taken control as “the team” in the Big Ten due to their success and the recent downfall of Indiana meaning they are the top program in the Midwest.



7. Syracuse-

Jim Boeheim has put Syracuse on the national map.  In his 33 years with the Orange, Boeheim has won 20-plus games in all but one season, won one National Championship, and finished runner-up twice.  All Big East schools get an extra boost in these rankings because it the elite conference in the country.  A lot of players want to play in the Big East and a lot of coaches want to coach in it as well.

When Boeheim decides to hang it up, this job will likely draw interest from numerous major conference coaches.

6. UConn-
What helps the Huskies most is that they are consistently one of the top teams in the premiere country in America.  Year-in and year-out, they bring in some of the top talent in the nation as 13 Huskies are currently in the NBA.

Jim Calhoun deserves much of the credit for bringing UConn to the upper-echelon of college hoops.  Since taking over in 1986, Connecticut has been to ten Elite 8’s and brought home two NCAA Titles.  When Calhoun steps down, probably in the next couple years, expect to see a lot of interest in his job.

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5. Kentucky-
Historically, Kentucky is the winningest college basketball program of all time.  But their “drought” during the past decade has decreased their current prominence.  They have not made the Final Four since 1998 when they won their seventh National Championship.

Adolf Rupp obviously put Kentucky on the map during his 42 year span as head coach.  Since then major names like Eddie Sutton and Rick Pitino have held the job.  But I think the recent defection of Tubby Smith to Minnesota and Billy Gillespie’s getting the quick pink slip hurts the value of this job a little bit.  Of course, with Calipari about to leave Memphis to head to UK, it also shows the value the position still holds.

4. Kansas-
When you look at KU’s coaches since 1983, it’s an impressive list; Larry Brown, Roy Williams, and Bill Self.  Consider that Brown left Kansas for the NBA and Williams for UNC, and it shows just how respected this position is in the college basketball world.  Add in that Bill Self left a prominent Big Ten school in Illinois to take the job, and you can see why it is listed at number four.

What puts Kansas ahead of Kentucky is their recent success; 20 straight NCAA Tourney berths, three Final Fours since 2002, and of course last year’s National Title.

3. UCLA-

I could see the argument that UCLA should be number one because of the success that John Wooden brought to the Bruins in the 1960’s and 70’s, including seven straight National Titles.  But since Wooden retired in 1975, UCLA has had eight head coaches.

The Bruins are still the cream of the crop out West, but despite having made three consecutive trips to the Final Four from 2006-2008, have fallen behind Duke and Carolina in desirable destinations.

2. Duke-
How anxious are Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski for the day that Mike Krzyzewski decides to retire.  While Duke does not have the historic success of a UCLA, or Kentucky, their recent success is second to none.  Since Coach K became head coach in 1981, Duke ranks number one in NCAA Championships (3), Final Fours (10), and NCAA Tournament wins (71).

Coach K has brought Duke to the top of the college basketball world.  Every coach will be drooling over this job when it finally becomes available.

1. North Carolina-
It was a major statement when Roy Williams left a Kansas team that he had just taken to the National Championship game to head to UNC.  Sure, Williams had been an assistant at Carolina under Dean Smith for 11 seasons, but to leave a year-in, year-out National Title contender where you had just spent the last 15 years as head coach to take over the Tar Heels certainly says something.

Dean Smith set the bar at North Carolina, piling up 879 wins in 37 years as head coach.  Carolina is second all-time with 17 Final Four appearances and has won four National Championships.  UNC is always a major player in the recruiting race, pulling in the top high school players from all around the country, including 50 McDonald’s All-Americans.

Honorable Mentions: Georgetown, Louisville, Memphis