5 Greatest College Basketball Coaches

These five people know how to get the job done, which is winning baby!

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

In college sports, heck, in any sport, it's all about results. Your job is based on winning, plain and simple. The best and most prevalent example of this is Duke's Mike Kryzyzewski, who just passed Bobby Knight as the winningest men's college basketball coach of all time. He epitomizes job security as he keeps having success year after year. In honor of his accomplishment, let's take a look at the five greatest college basketball coaches of all time.


5. Dean Smith (UNC)

Coaching at any level is a tricky position as a persons success is mainly based on wins and losses. But in the college ranks, it can be said that while wins and on the court success are what keeps you employed, mentoring kids and seeing them flourish academically is just as vital. Dean Smith was a master of both. When he retired after a mesmerizing 36 year coaching tenure at UNC, he held the record for most wins in men's college basketball (since broken twice) as well as having a high graduation rate for his players, with 96.6% of his athletes receiving their degrees. It's that dual success that makes him one of the greatest coaches of all time.

Coaching Record: 879-254 (UNC)

Two NCAA Division I Tournament Championships (1982,1993)

11 Final Fours

17 Regular Season Conference Championships (ACC)

13 ACC Tournament Championships

Four National Coach of the Year Awards (1977, 1979, 1982, 1993)

Olympic Gold Medal (Montreal, 1976)


4. Bobby Knight (Army, Indiana, Texas Tech)

Bobby Knight, known as the 'General' to his players, was a major success as a college coach. His 902 wins at retirement was the most in men's college hoops history (again, later broken). But while the man was good at what he did, he was also known as one of the most controversial coaches of all time, balancing his success with an anger issue straight out of Rage-R-Us. During his tenure in the college ranks, he threw a chair across the court during a game, was once arrested for assault, and would routinely go off on reporters at press conferences. I can guarantee you that when he finally retired in 2008, many a ref and reporter breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Coaching Record: 902-371

Three NCAA Division I Tournament Championships (1976, 1981, 1987)

Five Final Fours (1973, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1992)

11 Regular Season Conference Championships (Big Ten)

Coach of the Year Award (1987)

Undefeated Season (1976)

Olympic Gold Medal (Los Angeles, 1984)


3. Mike Kryzyzewski (Army & Duke)

A protege of Bobby Knight, Kryzyzewski (or Coach K to those who rather not try saying his name) recently surpassed his mentor to become the winningest coach in Men's basketball history. Coach K has had one of the greatest runs of all time coaching at Duke, one that continues still, and his understanding of himself and his players as keys to his success over the years (a comment made by Knight himself). On top of his college success, Coach K has also had international success as well, winning a Gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. At just a little over 60, Kryzyzewski could still enjoy a decade more of success, put his accomplishments at such a level that no person may ever catch them.

Coaching Record: 903-284

Four NCAA Division I Tournament Championships (1991,1992, 2001, 2010)

11 Final Fours

12 Regular Season Conference Championships (ACC)

13 ACC Tournament Championships

3 National Coach of the Year Awards (1989, 1992, 1999)

Olympic Gold Medal (Beijing, 2008)


2. Pat Summitt (Tennessee)

While Coach K may hold the men's record for college wins, you have to go over to the women's side to find the coach with the most ever wins in college basketball history. Pat Summitt is a wins machine who even today is driving her players to heights even they can't believe they achieve. The greatest testament to her coaching prowess, besides her wins, is that in her 36 years as a coach, she has never had a losing season.

Coaching Record: 1,071-199

Eight NCAA Division I Tournament Championships (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008)

Four Final Fours (1999, 2004, 2009, 2011)

16 Regular Season Conference Championships (SEC)

15 SEC Tournament Championships

7 National Coach of the Year Awards

Olympic Gold Medal (Los Angeles, 1984)


1. John Wooden (UCLA)

When you think of coaching greatness, then the first on any list has to be the 'Wizard of Westwood' John Wooden. A Hall of Famer as both a coach and a player, Wooden led his UCLA team to 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, winning 7 in a row at one point. Wooden was revered by his players as he taught them not only sports, but life lessons as well. He will forever be the staple for coaching excellence in any sport.

Coaching Record: 664-162

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (1961)

10 NCAA Division I Tournament Championships (1964, 1965, 1967-1973, 1975)

12 Final Fours

Six Coach of the Year Awards

Record 88 Consecutive Wins in a Row

Four Undefeated Seasons (1963, 1967, 1972, 1973)