It’s only June and it is coming to this. I’m not proud.
ESPN is doing a list of the top-50 college basketball coaches in recent years. The standards seem very nebulous and hard to pin down.
We’ve been thinking about that question this offseason, looking for the best way to quantify the answer. Luckily, we’ve got ESPN Forecast. Last week, we asked a panel of nearly 100 ESPN writers, editors, broadcasters and researchers to rate college basketball coaches on all aspects of running a program, on a scale of 1-10. (The crucial distinction here is that the prompt was not career-oriented. This isn’t about legacy. It’s all about the present.) We compiled their scores and ranked the names, and now comes the fun part: The big reveal.
Right from the start there are some odd rankings — Scott Drew (Baylor at 50 should be higher based on what he has done) and Bruce Weber (K-State at 40 is ridiculously high) — that seem as based on liking or disliking some coaches as their actual performance.
Tom Crean was completely left off the list which seems ridiculous, but then, no one really seems to like Crean these days.
[And given this is and ESPN project, they have to have start the debate with this and immediately start questioning their own compilation to fan the debate.[
Coach Jamie Dixon did not crack the final 24 that they intend to dole out. Instead he has finished at 25.
No. 25 may be too low for Dixon in the long run — his first eight years were all excellent, and his teams’ relentless rebounding is basically a guarantee that his team will (almost) always be above average — but the ranking is at least understandable when viewed as a measure of short-term performance. Pittsburgh has been decent, but hardly great, the past three seasons. The Panthers are often maddening to boot. Which is probably why the panel scored Dixon out to No. 25: Not because he’s not good, but because everyone has come to expect more.
Which seems fair enough.
That leaves 24 names left.
I mean some are obvious (in no particular order): Mike Kryzyzewski, John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Bill Self, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, Kevin Ollie, Greg Marshall, Billy Donovan, Sean Miller, Roy Williams, Bo Ryan, John Beilein, Thad Matta, Tony Bennett and Mark Few are sure to be on the list.
Then you can expect Shaka Smart and Fred Hoiberg.
That’s 18 names. After that, if I had to guess you will see Jay Wright — because there seems to be a large amount of recency (as in this past season) bias. (Archie Miller at #26?)
Now I’m starting to stretch. Steve Fisher at SDSU seems reasonable enough. The media tends to fawn over Tommy Amaker at Harvard.
The only other names I can come up with that might make make the list. Larry Brown at SMU and Greg McDermott at Creighton.
Feel free to correct or suggest other possibilities.
The one thing that jumps out is that there is a reason that the Big 10 and ACC partisans argue over which is the better conference. Just look at the list of top coaches for each conference. Ten of the top-25 just from those two conferences.