Duke’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski, is in many people’s mind the greatest coach in men’s basketball history. Coach K, as he is known in and around the basketball scene, got his 900th win as head coach at Duke on Saturday January 25 against Florida State. He has led Duke to the NCAA tournament every year since 1985. He is the winningest coach in NCAA history. Could he be the greatest coach to ever live?
Compared to the rest of the major sports, one would start in football. Let’s be fair here to football. Games are played every Saturday and there isn’t a thirty six game season. Some of the greatest coaches of all time in college football are John Gagliardi, Eddie Robinson.
Gagliardi was the head coach at Saint Johns University in Minnesota for 59 years. He compiled a 489-138-11 record over that time. He has a win percentage of .775 and could be one of the greatest coaches ever in the college ranks. Eddie Robinson coached Grambeling State from 1941-1997 which is an amazing accomplishment in itself. Robinson compiled a 408-167-16 record with a .703 win percentage. Coach K has a career win percentage at Duke of .764.
Both of these men compiled these records at much smaller name schools and only Robinson actually competed on a Division I platform and that was only for a short time.
If you take a look at women’s basketball, Pat Summit of Tennessee and Geno Auriemma of University of Connecticut are the only two that compare to Coach K on the basketball scale. Summit has won over 1,000 games during her tenure and won 8 NCAA titles. Auriemma has won over 850 games and has also coached 8 NCAA championship teams. Don’t get me wrong here, these are amazing accomplishments, but to be considered the best there has to be some sort of resistance.
There is, in my opinion, a big Difference between number 1 and 2 in women’s basketball. There are games that seems like David is up against Goliath. There are very few cinderella stories at the collegiate level in women’s basketball. Although there are no guarantees in sports, there are little surprises to who is going to compete in the championship games at the DI women’s level.
In men’s basketball there is always a few surprise teams making a statement during March. Duke, along with the rest of the NCAA, has to deal with them.
Coach K is already the best men’s basketball coach in NCAA history but the question still remains: Is he the best ever in college sports? I say yes. He is competing in the ACC, which is an extremely tough division in men’s basketball. The Blue Devils have to play North Carolina every year. When you represent the ‘brand’ of Duke, you’re going to be playing a team’s best every night.
I find it funny to hate the best and I think that is what most people tend to do when it comes to sports. When Duke came into the ‘Pete’ and beat up Pitt, all I heard was how much everyone hates Duke. I believe Coach K has created some of that distaste with the success of his program over the years.
Coach K has kept his teams competitive every year since the mid-eighties and that alone is an amazing accomplishment. The Atlantic Coast Conference is only going to get tougher with the addition of Syracuse and Louisville in 2014. I think Coach K will be more than ready for the challenge.
Coach K has also done well at the international level. He has won gold twice as head coach of team USA in the Olympics. Although he is coaching dream teams, he has to make those guys believe in his system and motivate those guys to work together.
Coach K is also a great humanitarian. He founded the Emily Krzyzewski Center, named after his mother, a non-profit organization which was established in 2006. The mission is to inspire students from kindergarten through high school to dream big, act with character and purpose, and reach their potential as leaders in their community.
Add that to his impressive basketball background and you have, in my opinion, the best college coach ever. Both on the court and off.