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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Factoids About Division I College Hoops Coaching

There are 327 Division 1 college hoops teams (this according to Blue Ribbon, which is my source for this post).

Please look at the following list of colleges:

American International
Boise State
Carnegie Mellon
Clarion State
High Point
Lenoir Rhyne
Merchant Marine Academy
Northern Michigan
Pembroke State
St. Lawrence
Weber State

24 schools. What do they represent?

Some wag, unmindful of conference scheduling requirements, might offer that this list represents a typical Georgetown schedule during the John Thompson, Jr. coaching era. Augsburg, Lenoir Rhyne, Pembroke state, St. Lawrence, Wilkes.

But that would be wrong.

These schools are the alma maters of the coaches of the teams ranked in Blue Ribbon's pre-season Top 25. (The reason that there are only 24 schools listed is that both Louisville and Boston College have UMass alums as coaches -- Rick Pitino and Al Skinner respectively, both of whom incidentally, were Class of '74). Which means, of course, that you aren't required to have gone to a legendary hoops school to get an elite coaching perch.

Wayne Morgan of Iowa State went to St. Lawrence, a New England liberal arts college. John Calipari of Memphis went to Clarion State in Pennsylvania, a school that used to be in the country's top 25 -- in wrestling. Lute Olson of Arizona went to Augsburg, Jay Wright of Villanova went to Bucknell, and Skip Prosser of Wake Forest went to Merchant Marine Academy. Jim Calhoun of UConn went to American International, Rick Barnes of Texas to Lenoir Rhyne, Coach K to Army, and Tom Izzo to Northern Michigan. Bo Ryan of Wisconsin went to Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Not a DI hoops dynasty among that particular group. (Yes, Gary Williams of Maryland went to Maryland, Steve Alford of Iowa went to Indiana and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse went to Syracuse, but they are in the minority here). I will post later a list of (i) the schools that have the most current DI head coaches and (ii) all of the alma maters of current DI head coaches, as well as a breakdown of the graduation years of those head coaches. It's all interesting stuff.

The oldest head coach is John Chaney of Temple, Bethune-Cookman '55. The youngest is Dane Fife, Indiana '02, who is the head coach of Indiana Purdue at Fort Wayne.

The one interesting demographic that sticks out is the age breakdown of the coaches of the Top 25 schools. One is Class of '56 (Olson), five graduated in the 60's, 10 in the 70's, 8 in the 80's and one in the 90's. That sampling is significantly older than the overall breakdown of DI head coaches, as follows:

1950's -- 4
1960's -- 30
1970's -- 95
1980's -- 148
1990's -- 49
2000's -- 1.

In short, comparatively speaking, 64% of the coaches of teams ranked in the pre-season Top 25 graduated in 1979 or earlier. In contrast, 57.5% of all DI coaches graduated in 1980 or later. I haven't yet distinguished among high-major, mid-major and low-major schools, but I would suffice it to say that the coaches at the perennial contenders are perhaps a bit older than the younger coaches, who might be at their first DI head coaching job at a lower major where they're trying to build their records to get a chance at a bigger-time school. Put another way, the numbers tell us that 11.8% of the coaches who graduated in the 1970's have teams in the pre-season Top 25, while only 5.7% of the coaches who graduated in the 1980's have teams in the pre-season Top 25.

Experience seems more of a determining factor as to Top 25 rankings, at least in this sampling, than where a coach went to school. When I publish the list of where all DI coaches went to school, you'll see names that are about as well known as Augsburg, Pembroke State and Lenoir Rhyne. Which means, then, that becoming a head coach, like becoming a success in other endeavors, requires both innate talent and a will to work to fulfill that talent, even if doors don't automatically open for you. That said, when you see the overall numbers, playing for Duke and assisting your former coach gives you a leg up on kids who went to Ferris State, Baptist Bible and Regis.

Let's let the fun begin.


Blogger Agonica said...

Nicely done. While you allude to it, it would have made sense to mention that Tubby Smith, the coach of the all-time winningest team in college hoops history, and owner of a national title, is the High Point grad on the list.

It would also be interesting to see how many of those coaches have offered big paydays to their alma maters in exchange for cupcake games.

This year, Kentucky plays High Point.

Great site, btw. You might enjoy my own blog, AGONICA, crafted along similar lines.

Come visit AGONICA

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Northwestern coach Bill Carmody (Union College), Skip Prosser (Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy) and Wayne Morgan (St. Lawrence) played against each other during 1971-72 season (all with Division III colleges in New York State). St. Lawrence, by the way, is in upstate NY not New England.

9:48 PM  

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