By Dennis Berry
What are the top college basketball coaching positions? It is a debate that comes up almost every time a head coaching job opens up at a big school. The answers may vary depending on who you talk to. They seem to change every year as well.
Here is a list of the Top Ten jobs in the country in the summer of 2011. Before I list the top ten here are some schools that were considered but just missed the cut:
- Michigan State
- St. John's
Now here is the Top Ten
The Hoosiers have been down the last few years after the fallout of the Kelvin Sampson era, but this is one of best college basketball programs in the country. The Hoosiers have five national titles, the last coming in 1987. They have 20 Big Ten Conference Championships. They are the top basketball program in Indiana and have great fan support. They play in a 17,000 plus seat arena and in 2010 completed a brand new practice facility. Coach Tom Crean is starting to build on the strong in-state talent and the recruiting classes are improving with each year.
The Cardinals' last NCAA title came in 1986, but the Cardinals have a long tradition of winning. They have won two NCAA championships and been to eight NCAA Final Fours, the last coming in 2005. They play in perhaps the best basketball conference in the Big East. Their games are played in the KFC YUM! Center, a 20,000 seat arena located downtown. They also have a basketball practice facility which opened in 2007. Although the Cardinals are not the biggest program in the state, they have built a strong following in the basketball crazy bluegrass.
Although the Longhorns have never won a NCAA title, they have one of the best programs in the country. The Longhorns have been to 28 NCAA tournaments, including every season since 1999. In that time they have been to three elite eights and one Final Four (2003). They play in the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Special Events Center which seats 16,000 plus, the largest in the Big 12. They practice in the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion, one of the best practice facilities in the country. Texas always has one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Plus, Texas is considered a football school, so the pressure to win there is not as great.
The Ohio State University is also known as a football school, which makes the basketball job good. The Buckeyes have only one NCAA title which was won in 1960. They have been to 11 Final Fours, 12 if you include the 1999 run which was vacated. They have been the national runner up four times, most recently in 2007. They play in the 19,000 plus Jerome Schottenstein Center, which opened in 1998. It is also the home of their practice facilities as well. The Buckeyes have also been a national power over the last few years after Thad Matta's rebuilding job following NCAA sanctions.
We are not talking about the Lady Huskies, but the men. Coach Jim Calhoun has built the Huskies into a national power since taking over in 1986. The Huskies have won 10 Big East Titles and seven Big East Tournament titles in that span. They have made the NCAA tournament 17 times, going to nine Elite Eight, four Final Fours, and winning the NCAA Title three times (1999, 2001, and 2011). The Huskies play in two arenas. Their on campus arena in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, seats 10,000 plus. They also play games in Hartford, CT. in the 16,000 plus XL Center, which opened in 1974.
The team with 11 NCAA Championships comes in at only number five? Well that has more to do with their lack of success. The last title came in 1995, but they did have a run of three straight Final Fours (2006,2007, and 2008) but only could get a runner up finish in 2006. Still the history and tradition of the Bruins is well known. They play in Pauley Pavilion, which seats 12,000 plus. Pauley Pavilion is also getting renovated to make it more state of the art. UCLA can recruit not only in the state of California, but they also have a national recruiting power given the history and success the program has had.
When you think Duke, you think of coach Mike Krzyzewski who has been the coach at Duke since 1980 and built the Blue Devils into the national power they are now. He has won 831 games at Duke and won four NCAA titles in that span. While Duke is known as a major academic school, it has not stopped the Blue Devils success. Playing in the ACC and having a majority of games played on national television has helped Duke's success. Also helping is perhaps the best home court advantage in college basketball at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It may only seat 9,000 plus, but the majority of those are students known as the "Cameron Crazies" that are lined around the court.
Kansas is currently second on the all-time wins list. Kansas has been to 13 Final Fours and won three NCAA titles (1952, 1988, and 2008). Kansas has been home to some of the greatest coaches in the game. James Naismith, Phog Allen, Larry Brown, and Roy Williams have all coached there. Current coach Bill Shelf, who took them to the 2008 title, is enjoying his own success there. The Jayhawks play in one of the most historic arenas in college basketball. The 16,000 plus seat Allen Fieldhouse opened in 1955. Kansas plays in the Big 12 and is seen as the top program in that conference.
The second ACC team in the top four is North Carolina. The Tar Heels are third on the all time wins list. They have appeared in 42 NCAA tournaments, made the Final Four 18 times, and have won five NCAA titles (1957,1982, 1993, 2005, 2009). The Tar Heel program has enjoyed success from Frank McGuire to Dean Smith to now Roy Williams. The basketball program has also had some of the best college basketball players, including perhaps the best player of all time Michael Jordan. They play their home games in the 21,000 plus seat Dean Smith Center. In 2001 it was renovated to become more modernized and include a practice facility.
The top job in the country is also perhaps the most demanding. The Kentucky Wildcats have the most wins in the history of college basketball. Kentucky has been to 51 NCAA Tournaments and the 105 wins in the tournament is tied for most all time with North Carolina. They have been to 14 Final Fours and won seven NCAA national titles (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, and 1998). Kentucky is the only school to have three different coaches lead them to a national title, Adolph Rupp, Rick Pitino, and Orlando "Tubby" Smith. The Wildcats have dominated the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky has won 44 SEC regular season titles and 26 SEC Tournament titles.
The Wildcats play in the 23,000 plus seat Rupp Arena, which is usually filled with the best fan base in college basketball. The same fans who are so good, also demand success every year and expect national titles. In 2007, Kentucky opened the state of the art Joe Craft Center, an on campus practice facility. It also appears that officials are looking into either renovating Rupp Arena or building a new arena completely.
With the support from both the school and fans, it is easy to see why Kentucky is the best head coaching job in college basketball.
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