Monday, December 27, 2010

Greatest Coaches

Recently I blasted off about the so-called Big Ten Icons. But, was it ever thus? Now the Sporting News has come out with a list of the 50 greatest coaches of all-time, though they refer to the list as the Top 50 Coaches.

But like most such lists, they mean the top 50 that a fellow who is alive today can think of without having to do any boring research. And so, they've got 21 football coaches, 14 basketball coaches, 10 baseball managers and 5 hockey coaches, and not a single coach from any other sport.

What's worse is that they've only got 7 coaches from pre-1950 and 43 since then. All of their top 3 and 4 of their top 6 peaked in the 1960s. That's not right and it's not fair. So I thought I would correct the situation with my top 50. And not just "coaches," in the narrow sense of the word, but "leaders" in the broader sense of the word. You'll se what I mean.

Top 50 Sports Leaders (Sporting News ranking in parentheses)

1. Knute Rockne (10)--made Notre Dame football into Notre Dame football
2. Branch Rickey (-)--built "the boys of summer" and broke the color line
3. John Wooden (1)
4. Vince Lombardi (2)--helped establish the "winning is everything" culture
5. Amos Alonzo Stagg (40)--invented modern collegiate athletics
6. Casey Stengel (9)
7. Red Auerbach (6)
8. Tom Landry (18) and Tex Schramm (-)--made the Cowboys America's team
9. Scotty Bowman (7)
10. Bear Bryant (3)

11. Rube Foster (-)--invented the Negro Baseball Leagues
12. Dr. James A. Naismith (-)--invented the game of basketball
13. Herb Brooks (50)--architect of the greatest moment in American sport
14. John McGraw (25)
15. Albert Spalding (-)--economic sponsor of 19C MLB, made it America's National Pastime more than anyone
16. Abe Saperstein (-)--founded the Harlem Globetrotters
17. Bill Walsh (26)--invented the West Coast offense
18. Connie Mack (28)
19. Adolph Rupp (21)--2nd greatest college basketball coach ever, but a racist bastard
20. Phil Jackson (4)

21 (tie). Mike Krzyzewski (19) and Dean Smith 8)
22. Toe Blake (37)
23. Eddie Robinson (23)
24. Bill Veeck (-)
25. Harry Wright (-)--built 1st pro baseball team, Cincinnati Red Stockings, among others
26. Cap Anson (-)--more than anyone, established the color line in MLB in 19C
27. Bob Johnson (-)--Badger Bob, won NCAA and NHL titles
28 (tie). Geno Auriemma (42) and Pat Summitt (11)
29. (tie). George Halas (14) and Curly Lambeau (-)
30. (tie). Bob Devaney (-) and Tom Osborne (34)

31. Frank Chance (-)--baseball's Peerless Leader in the 1900s
32. Paul Brown (12)--reinvented pro football in the 1950s
33. Bobby Knight (16)
34. Phog Allen (-)--early Kansas basketball coach
35. Fielding Yost (-)--early Michigan football coach
36. Angelo Dundee (-)--greatest boxing trainer
37. Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons (-)--greatest horse racing trainer
38 (tie). Art and Dan Rooney (-)--what NFL owners should be
39 (tie). Lou Holtz (-), Frank Leahy (-) and Ara Parseghian (44)--Notre Dame national champs after Rockne
40 (tie). Woody Hayes (27) and Bud Wilkinson (29)--great coaches of '50s and '60s

41. Pat Riley (30)
42. Anson Dorrance (-)--underrated at #42, look 'im up
43. Leo Durocher (-)--I dunno if "nice guys finish last," but jerks certainly finished 1st, in his case
44. Dan Gable (-)--underrated at #44, look 'im up
45 (tie). Ned Hanlon (-) and Frank Selee (-)--great baseball managers of the 1890s
46. Bob Douglas (-)--created the New York Rens basketball team
47. Earl "Red" Blaik (-)
48. Earl Weaver (-)--SN preferred Joe McCarthy (22, which is OK), Joe Torre (32, which I get) and Bobby Cox (46, which I get, but just don't happen to agree with) but also Walter Alston (35), Sparky Anderson (38), Tony LaRussa (41), and Tommy Lasorda (48) all of whom I do not get over the Earl of Weaver
49 (tie). Bo Schembechler (36) and Joe Paterno (13)
50. Harvey Penick (-)--the greatest golf teacher of 'em all


OK, I cheated. So sue me. With ties, I got 60 sports leaders into my Top 50. And where the Sporting News had just 7 of them from before 1950, I've got 23 of 'em. And while they had nobody other than baseball, basketball, football and hockey coaches, I've got people from the boxing, golf, horse racing, soccer and wrestling worlds. Isn't that better?

Among the people I rated and they didn't, the following are the worst oversights, meaning fellows who met their own criteria--they were baseball, basketball, football and hockey "coaches" in the narrow sense of the word and even coached within the time frame (the 20C) that the Sporting News covered--but the Sporting News simply booted 'em.

27. Badger Bob Johnson
30. Bob Devaney
34. Phog Allen
35. Fielding Yost
39. Frank Leahy and Lou Holtz
43. Leo Durocher
47. Red Blaik
48. Earl Weaver

Here are the fellows whom the SN rated in their top 50 and I didn't.

5. Don Shula
15. Chuck Noll
17. Joe Gibbs
20. Bill Belichek--boy, do we ever love the modern NFL coach
22. Joe McCarthy
24. Bobby Bowden
31. Pete Newell--better than Phog Allen? really?
32. Joe Torre
33. Bill Parcells
35. Walter Alston
38. Sparky Anderson--I'd rather have Bill McKechnie and Billy Southworth
39. Al Arbour
41. Tony LaRussa--way too many modern-day MLB managers (more below)
43. Dick Irvin--2-and-8 in Stanley Cup finals, sorry
45. Chuck Daly
46. Bobby Cox
47. Hank Iba
48. Tommy Lasorda
49. Greg Popovich

The next few guys I wish I could have gotten into the top 50 or 60 or whatever were none of these guys except one, including baseball managers Joe McCarthy, Bill McKechnie and Billy Southworth.

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