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The List: Best coaches
From the Page 2 mailbag
1. John Wooden (247 letters)
There can be no other choice but John Wooden. While his 10 championships speak for themselves, what says more about Wooden than any other fact is his admitted absence of "coaching" during a game. He always had his teams prepared well ahead of time. Unlike today, where players call timeouts they don't have, Wooden's players were so grounded in the fundamentals that not only would such an error be inconceivable, but it did not even need to be mentioned in the huddle! Add to all of that the fact that was, and always will remain, one of the true gentlemen in sports, or any other walk of life. The term "legend" is so casually tossed around in sports today. It does not even come close to describing John Wooden.
2. Joe Paterno (176 letters)
Joe Paterno is the greatest coach of all-time not only because he will soon hold the Division I all-time win record, but because of his dedication to making his players work as hard in the classroom as they do on the field. Among the traditional football powers, most cannot claim a 75 percent graduation rate and I think Coach Paterno takes as much or even more pride in those numbers than the ones his teams put up on the field. He produces people who can become productive members of society in whatever field they choose.
State College, Pa. 1.) Look at his record -- most bowl wins, only coach to win all four majors, winningest coach, etc. And he got all of his wins against D1 schools unlike Bobby B. (yeah, take a look into that one!) 2.) In this day of big bucks, Paterno stresses MBA over NFL. He is totally focused on academics and recruits intelligent players who have the same focus, unlike some other programs. 3.) He has impeccable integrity. Sure, PSU has problems, but Paterno is a guiding force of morality. He removed Enis for the suit problem, compare that to Warrick's situation. He pulls his top receiver for getting a B- in class -- who else would do that? He took so many cheap shots for the Casey situation last year -- and look at that, he was right! 4.) Everything that is good about football points to Paterno. He has outlasted more than 600 DI coaching changes during his tenure at PSU. He is versatile. Sure he is coming off a losing season, his second ever! Look at Walt Harris, three out of four seasons were losing ones -- and he is called a 'genius'! What does that make Paterno? Paterno has the awards, reputation, integrity, priorities and class to be named the No. 1 coach. He is a diamond in the proverbial coal mine of sports. Let's show everyone what is right with sports and put Paterno No. 1. Show America you can be a winner on an off the field with integrity, honesty and class! Paterno is just that!
3. Dean Smith (140 letters)
Carrboro, N.C. Dean Smith went to every NCAA Tournament since they got rid of that ridiculous one-team-per-conference-even-for-the-ACC rule. He is the only one with that track record, which essentially means that he is the only coach whose worst year in 20-plus still resulted in a tourney bid. He was always in the top three of the consistently best conference. The streak he had of at least getting to the Sweet 16, all those Final Fours, and those five championship games. All this while losing more players early to the NBA than any other. But all this is nothing when you compare it to the fact that his program never got into trouble with the Draconian NCAA, his players graduated at an incredibly high rate -- even those who left early for the NBA -- and so many of them continue to consult him about their life decisions, including those who are or were at the top of their respective professions. Even Mr. John Wooden said Smith was the best teacher of the game.
4. Bear Bryant (115 letters)
Frederick, Md. He won without superstars who most teams seem to require today. He won with athletes who were motivated by him to simply go out and do their best, both in football and life. He always gave them the credit for winning the games and he took the credit for losing them. He was a magnanimous benefactor to many charities and is considered a legend not only in this state, but across America. He embodied all that a great coach should be.
5. Vince Lombardi (110 letters)
Vince Lombardi was the greatest coach of all-time, not only for his accomplishments on the field, but for impact outside the lines. I agree that the choice between Wooden and Lombardi is a tough one, but I think that one can safely say that Lombardi had much more of an impact outside his sport than Wooden. How often has a figure come along that transcends the sport in which he coaches to influence our culture? Lombardi was this type of personality. Lombardi represents an era in our culture that was golden and reverent. A time of great pride, and strife in our nation. In addition to having great national influence, let's not forget that the Packers of the '60s really gave birth to the NFL of today. Even today, the '60s teams are still used in promo films for the NFL. Wooden and Lombardi indelibly changed all of the players who played for them, but Lombardi's historic impact on the game and the nation remains with us to this day.
6. Red Auerbach (88 letters)
It's real hard to take my coach over the great John Wooden, but I have to go with the guy who won so consistently on the pro level. Red built the NBA, creating a mystique that has yet to be rivaled in sports. Cold showers at the Garden, riding officials, the cigar -- the man knew how to get under an opponent's skin. He had only eight plays, perfected the fast break, created the sixth man, and began the greatest sports dynasty ever.
7. Scotty Bowman (86 letters)
No coach has led teams to more cups than Bowman (and his mentor, Toe Blake). What may be his greatest accomplishment, however, has been doing it over a period of time when professional sports, professional athletes, and especially the game of hockey have changed so dramatically. Scotty hasn't missed a beat. He's a throwback who has adjusted, while others -- in all sports -- have fallen victim to changing times. With all due respect to the Shulas and Lombardis, the Jacksons and Auerbachs, the Torres and Stengels, and the Woodens, Bryants, Summitts, and Paternos, Scotty Bowman has the championships, the longevity, and the adaptability.
8. Mike Krzyzewski (80 letters)
9. Phil Jackson (59 letters)
The man put together the greatest team of all-time. He took the best athlete of all time in Michael Jordan and put him with probably the most uncontrollable, intolerable, and weirdest athlete in Dennis Rodman. San Antonio couldn't control Rodman but Jackson did. He combined basketball and Zen Buddhism, and made a six-time championship team. (would have been an eight-time championship team if Jordan would not have left!) After he left the Bulls, he went to Los Angeles and won a championship with the Lakers. I would like to see any other coach try to win a championship with Kobe and Shaq, probably the two biggest babies in the NBA. Now he is about to win his second championship in a row with the Lakers. He did it with the Bulls and he is doing it again with the Lakers. That is why he is the best coach of all-time!
10.Dan Gable (52 letters)
Cambridge, Mass. Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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