Is Rick Pitino one of the top five, college basketball coaches of all time? SportsChump lets you decide, sort of

 

I try not to be reactionary in times like these but I’m waiting for someone to convince me that Rick Pitino is not one of the top five, Division I, men’s college basketball coaches of all-time.

I was having this very same conversation with friends the other night only hours after watching Rick Pitino cut down the nets for the second time in his career.  As you’ll see below, some interesting names were thrown into the conversation but when it was all said and done, nobody could convince me Pitino did not belong on that list.

Let us first establish a few parameters for this debate.  First and foremost, John Wooden is inarguably the greatest men’s college basketball coach of all-time.  His record at UCLA speaks for itself: ten titles in twelve years, an 88-game winning streak, seven consecutive national championships and a dynasty unlike any other, featuring two of the greatest big men to ever play the game, Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.

Things get a little cloudy after that.  One can make a legitimate argument that Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (four national championships, 13 Elite Eights, 957 coaching victories, built a Duke program out of nothing) is the second greatest coach of all-time.  One can also make that same argument for Adolph Rupp (four national championships, 876 career wins).  Whomever you put at two or three, it’s probably safe to put them both ahead of Pitino, although I would at least entertain the argument against Rupp.  After all, the college basketball landscape has changed dramatically since his all-white Kentucky teams dominated the late 40s and 50s.

Either way, that leaves us with only two spaces remaining, one of which I believe belongs to Pitino who, on Monday night, did something no man in the history of the sport has ever done: win a championship with two different programs.  Is he a better coach than Bobby Knight, who boasts three national championships and 902 career victories?  Is he better than Jim Boeheim with one national championship and 920 career wins?   How about Dean Smith, two titles and 879 career wins?  Or what about UConn’s recently retired Jim Calhoun who boasts 866 wins with three national titles over a twelve year span?

When you add these Hall of Fame coaches into the mix, things become a little hazy but in my mind, you have to give the nod to Pitino.  While Pitino has only 664 career wins in the college game, he took seven years off to coach in the NBA.  The 20 wins-per-season he would have earned over that time would put him in the 800-win club and at 60 years old, he’s the youngest of the bunch to be there.  And I still believe, the fact that he won championships with two storied, albeit troubled, programs cannot be overlooked.

In 1989, Pitino took over a Kentucky team that had been placed on probation for illegally paying recruits.  The career move was a gamble.  Within three years, Pitino had the Wildcats back in the Final Four.  Within six, he had won a national championship.  After a second, brief hiatus in the NBA, this time with the Boston Celtics, Pitino took over a flailing Louisville program in 2001.  In his second year, he won twenty-five games.  Within four years, he was back in the Final Four.   He made the Final Four again last year, the sixth in his career, and this year, he capped off a 35-win season with another national championship.  And let’s not forget leading a Providence team nobody outside of Rhode Island had ever heard of to its second only Final Four.  They haven’t been back since.

Everyone has their allegiances but we have now seen Pitino either build, or rebuild, three separate programs, making contenders, if not champions, out of all of them.  That’s more than can be said of any of the other historic coaches on this list.

And that, my friends, has to count for something.


41 thoughts on “Is Rick Pitino one of the top five, college basketball coaches of all time? SportsChump lets you decide, sort of

  1. Pingback: Is Rick Pitino one of the top five, college basketball coaches of all time? SportsChump lets you decide, sort of - BallHyped Blog Network, NCAA Basketball | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Its a good thing that you said college coaches, because if you asked if he was a top coach on any level the answer would be absolutely not. He sucked with the Knicks and he sucked even worse with the Celtics. I really don’t care which level you coach at, if you’re good, you’re good. If you suck at one level but not at another level, then maybe you’re just lucky. I would definitely put Bobby Knight and Jim Calhoun ahead of Pitino. That little white-suited fucker doesn’t even crack my top 10.

  3. Look beyond his stay within the professional ranks and concentrate solely on what he has achieved at the collegiate level . You simply can’t question Rick Pitino’s resume’ . .

    Mind you I do question his taste in women , as in his former mistress Karen Cunagin Sypher , the wife of one of his assistant coaches . So that’s you white guys do things in the South? No sex in the champagne room and never do it in back alley of some dive of a restaurant . Way to go Ricky-0 and then have selective memory as to what happened during the affair .

    Tophatal ………….

  4. Snake…

    That’s why I narrowed it down strictly to men’s college basketball division I, otherwise we’d have to include names like Phil Jackson, Pat Summit and yes, Red Auerbach.

    And if you’d rank ten college coaches ahead of Pitino, I’d like to hear them.

  5. Al…

    Certainly Pitino’s extra-curricular activities leave a stain on his resume. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was cracking him for them.

    But all things aside, the guy can flat out coach, and build programs from out of the wreckage. People tend to forget the shape both Louisville and Kentucky were in before he took them over.

    In no time flat, they were back to contending.

  6. Oh, and Snake, let’s not forget Nick Saban coached the Miami Dolphins and couldn’t do squat with them. People still consider him the best coach in the college game.

    I don’t think we can hold Pitino’s NBA record against him. Even so, he did bring the Knicks to the playoffs.

  7. Pitino excelled in PE…………premature ejaculation. Self admitted under oath.

    On court accomplishments? Can’t argue with his NCAA success.

  8. Alan,

    He didn’t have an ongoing affair with Syphers. She was a shake-down artist and the wife of the equipment manager. She was found guilty of extorting $$ from Pitino and lying to the feds.

  9. What about Augusta? Did you see Tiger’s last four holes today? Was that the curse of Elin raising it’s ugly perverse head? A sure birdie set-up chip that could possibly have back spun its way into the cup for an eagle given the line on the shot, but instead it rattled off the flagstaff and careened into the nearby water hazard. This set up the first of 3 bogeys on the last 4 holes. Woods was tied for the lead at that point 5 under and is now 3 back… Is it the curse? Can it be overcome?

  10. Chris

    I know Pitino can flat out coach and he can damn well recruit as well ! By comparison how would you rate him against Calipari in terms their respective coaching and management styles ?

    When Pitino told Cunagin-Sypher , he wanted to go ” Dutch” , she obviously got the wrong idea .

    Your thoughts on the ” potential ” NBA first round match-ups based on the current conference standings ? I for one , don’t believe that the Knicks will relish any part of a meeting with the Celtics , not under any circumstance , in spite of how well , ‘melo has been playing .

    History tells and by their most recent meetings in the postseason , it has been the Celtics , who have held the upper hand . And that was especially the case during the 2011 playoffs , which was the last meeting between the two teams, with the Boston Celtics sweeping the New York Knicks 4-0 .

    My take on the NBA season and the events that may well unfold during the postseason .

    Buzzer beater

    Tophatal ……………..

  11. Chris

    I still wouldn’t trust Da’Quan Bowers , not with that attitude and approach ! How the hell can he or anyone think it even remotely appropriate to bring a loaded weapon on a domestic airline flight ? It’s a crock of sh#t on his and his lawyer’s part to suggest that it was a mistake . Bearing in mind this is not the first time he’s been busted for such an incident .

    Tophatal ………….

  12. I better make a correction… In my zeal to validate the Elin curse I inadvertently (wished) Tiger had made 3 bogeys when in fact it was just 2… Still he’s 3 back of the Aussie! We’ll see…

  13. Ronbets

    They (Rick Pitino & Karen Cunagin-Sypher) were involved for at least six months before the allegations of extortion . Hence, the initial denials from Pitino . Also remember the relationship was actually consensual and not as Rick Pitino alleges . He admitted to the affair during the trial , apologizing to his family and to Louisville over the matter . So how does that make Cunagin-Sypher , a shakedown artist ?

    Pitino was a dumb @ss thinking that he could drop trou’ and ‘ nail’ some chic and not expect there not to be some blow-back.

    Chris and Ronbets

    I thought we’d heard the last of Brett Favre ? Now he’s chiming in on the criticism of Tony Romo and his lack of postseason wins ? Brett’s postseason forays aren’t exactly exemplary to begin with .

    At the annual SMU athletic forum luncheon on Friday, retired quarterback Brett Favre praised Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    Favre is 1-1 lifetime against Romo, losing to him when he played for the Packers and winning against Romo in a playoff game while he with the Vikings.

    Romo, who was raised in Wisconsin and grew up a fan of Favre, has been under fire in recent years for his lack of success in the playoffs. Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs and there was some local and national criticism over the six-year, $108 million contract extension he signed last week.

    Favre believes the criticism is unfair.

    “It’s the ultimate team sport,” Favre said according to the Dallas Morning News. “I think it’s misleading to say that a quarterback has wins and losses and say he was a part of one playoff victory. I think there are a lot of factors that go into the success of not only Tony Romo but any player. Just what little bit I’ve watched the last couple of years, it seems like they were a little bit in disarray offensively. I thought he did a good job, from what I saw, of managing and making plays.”

    It’s the making plays part, while under duress, that excites Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who wants the offense to utilize Romo’s talents.

    “Does that get you in trouble sometimes when you try to do too much? Sure it does,” Favre said. “But I think I’d rather have a guy who’s willing to take those chances.”

    ===================================

    .

    ============================

    Why can’t Favre simply remain buried beneath a pile of cow dung or human fecal matter ?

    Kobe could very well be lost to the Lakers this postseason. He may well have suffered a severely sprained ankle or a torn Achilles’ tendon as is being reported . Bryant suffered the injury last night in the game against the Warriors .

    Tophatal ……………….

  14. Ronbets

    They (Rick Pitino & Karen Cunagin-Sypher) were involved for at least six months before the allegations of extortion . Hence, the initial denials from Pitino . Also remember the relationship was actually consensual and not as Rick Pitino alleges . He admitted to the affair during the trial , apologizing to his family and to Louisville over the matter . So how does that make Cunagin-Sypher , a shakedown artist ?

    By the way , that verdict was clouded and shrouded in evidentiary misnomers , with the prosecutors and judge not granting certain requests of the defense attorneys.

    Pitino was a dumb @ss thinking that he could drop trou’ and ‘ nail’ some chic and not expect there not to be some blow-back.

    Chris and Ronbets

    I thought we’d heard the last of Brett Favre ? Now he’s chiming in on the criticism of Tony Romo and his lack of postseason wins ? Brett’s postseason forays aren’t exactly exemplary to begin with .

    At the annual SMU athletic forum luncheon on Friday, retired quarterback Brett Favre praised Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    Favre is 1-1 lifetime against Romo, losing to him when he played for the Packers and winning against Romo in a playoff game while he with the Vikings.

    Romo, who was raised in Wisconsin and grew up a fan of Favre, has been under fire in recent years for his lack of success in the playoffs. Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs and there was some local and national criticism over the six-year, $108 million contract extension he signed last week.

    Favre believes the criticism is unfair.

    “It’s the ultimate team sport,” Favre said according to the Dallas Morning News. “I think it’s misleading to say that a quarterback has wins and losses and say he was a part of one playoff victory. I think there are a lot of factors that go into the success of not only Tony Romo but any player. Just what little bit I’ve watched the last couple of years, it seems like they were a little bit in disarray offensively. I thought he did a good job, from what I saw, of managing and making plays.”

    It’s the making plays part, while under duress, that excites Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who wants the offense to utilize Romo’s talents.

    “Does that get you in trouble sometimes when you try to do too much? Sure it does,” Favre said. “But I think I’d rather have a guy who’s willing to take those chances.”

    ===================================

    .

    ============================

    Why can’t Favre simply remain buried beneath a pile of cow dung or human fecal matter ?

    Kobe could very well be lost to the Lakers this postseason. He may well have suffered a severely sprained ankle or a torn Achilles’ tendon as is being reported . Bryant suffered the injury last night in the game against the Warriors .

    Tophatal ……………….

  15. Chris & Ronebets

    Your thoughts on this story ? School wants its $750,000 back from Brian Banks’ accuser

    School wants its $750,000 back from Brian Banks’ accuser

    he Long Beach Unified School District is suing a former female student who admitted to falsely accusing ex-Poly High football star Brian Banks of rape in 2002.

    The lawsuit against former Polytechnic High School student Wanetta Gibson was filed last November, just months after Banks’ rape conviction was dismissed.

    Banks had spent five years in prison and another five on parole. He recently signed an NFL contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

    The school district said it is trying to recoup about $1.9 million that was spent defending itself after Gibson sued the district and collected a $750,000 settlement.

    The district also said it wants to recoup attorney fees as well as $1 million in punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

    “Our school district takes seriously its obligation to be a good steward of public funds,” said Chris Eftychiou, spokesman for the district. “It’s important to convey that our school board will take action to recoup any losses if someone attempts to defraud our schools of much-needed resources.”

    On July 8, 2002, Gibson accused Banks of raping her inside a building of the school’s campus. At the time, the 17-year-old linebacker was drawing attention from several universities, including USC and UCLA.

    Banks insisted the sexual contact with Gibson was consensual, but his lawyers advised him to plead no contest rather than risk being sentenced to 41 years to life in prison. Banks followed his attorney’s advice and spent five years in prison and another five on parole.

    Then in February 2011, Gibson reached out to him on Facebook. She allegedly admitted to lying about the alleged rape in a conversation that was taped by Banks and a private investigator.

    The tape ultimately led to Banks being exonerated in May 2012.

    School district officials say they have urged the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges against Gibson.

    Bank was railroaded into pleading “no contest” and served ten years for a crime he didn’t commit , thereby foregoing a promising college career . Explain to me how that s#it can go down in this day and age when DA had no DNA evidence to link Banks to a sexual assault that never took place ?

    Chris you still maintain that the country has really progressed that far in terms of the racial divide , in light incidents such as this and what has taken place at Rutgers ?

    These incidents are definitely not isolated at all .

    Tophatal …………

  16. Chris and Alan,

    I don’t this Banks case was primarily racially motivated. I’d rather consider it financially motivated. IOW the kid had no $$ for competent legal representation. I’d bet a public defender no less. What race was woman?

  17. Bets…

    That’s why I said, despite his extra-curriculars, his record speaks for itself.

    At this point, I believe he’s made amends for his mistake but that’s between him and his wife.

  18. Dwin…

    How are you watching the early morning activity? I can’t find it on TV anywhere.

    I don’t understand why they’re not televising the tourney in the morning. Drives me nuts.

  19. Al…

    As far as I know, Pitino has never been involved with any sort of recruiting violations or wrong-doings. Can we say the same about Calipari?

    I know the Celtics have had the upper hand against the Knicks of late but I do believe we’ll see a different outcome this playoffs.

    And I guess we’re just in wait and see mode with Bowers but like I said, I imagine the Bucs’ll be keeping him on a pretty tight leash. I mean, how much did Eric Wright just cost himself?

  20. Yea, Dwin.

    Suddenly the stroke penalty on Guan for slow play is not the story of the tourney.

    I listened to the press conference where reporters were grilling August authorities, asking them why Tiger wasn’t DQ’ed altogether.

    Can you imagine?

  21. Al…

    You brought up Brett Favre. I’m gonna go ahead and forget you did that.

    Horrible news about Kobe. Just when we thought they might make a run. I don’t think this is pain he’s gonna be able to play through. Suddenly all of San Antonio breathed a huge sigh or relief.

    About that Banks case, Al, was he black and his accuser white?

  22. Chris,

    I have no idea why Alan is claiming racial divide in the Banks case. The kid took some bad advice and was framed by a “sister”. Where are his advisors, his parents or guardians, how about school counselors? This shit happens with all types of individuals that can’t afford decent representation. The DA offered a plea to fatten up his ‘batting’ average.
    The kid,regardless of race was an easy conviction especially with all the scare tactics they threw at him.

  23. Ronbets & Chris

    The victim in question was an African American in the Banks’ case , who has had run ins with the law , allegations of pandering for sex and drug use, has cropped up concerning her past .

    Chris

    Pitino has kept his nose clean with regard to the programs where he’s coached , but that doesn’t necessarily mean , that things have been above board , just the fact that no one has sought to dig deep enough to find any malfeasance .

    The Kobe news is sad , and it all but kills the Lakers’ chance of a deep run in the postseason . My Spurs are going to feast on them like a pack of hyenas devouring the entrails of dead wildebeest .

    Tiger got penalized two strokes at the Masters ? I thought Lindsay Vonn was told, not to perform any sex talks with Tiger in public until after the tournament ?

    Baseball players can’t fight . ……….. as proven when Carlos Quentin kicked Zack Greinke dumb @ss and busted his collar bone . That’s $140 million plus that Magic Johnson and the Dodgers wished that they hadn’t spent .

    Will divine intervention actually help the Rays , or is it plain and simple that God doesn’t like ugly ?

    Another loss for the Rays and they’re beginning to look like one of the worst teams in the AL as the offense can’t produce any runs to aid the pitching staff .

    I don’t mind Favre speaking publicly , just as long as it has nothing to do with football as in the NFL or the college game ! Hell, if he were to give an explanation as to why he photo’d his ##ck and sent it as a text message to Jenn Sterger , I still wouldn’t be interested .

    The Bowers’ incident ought to be dealt with by the Bucs , if Goodell seeks to do nothing at all, as it sends the wrong message to begin with . We all know that the player and his legal representation were lying concerning the incident . Once could be considered a mistake but twice makes it something of a habit and even you have to admit that . I suppose Da’Quan Bowers’ dumb a@s also brings weapon unto One Buc Place for his own protection ?

    Tophatal ………………

  24. Al and Bets…

    I don’t know enough about the Banks case to cast judgment.

    And Al, if you’re asking me if I think our judicial system is unjust or biased and most certainly flawed, well then yes, I would have to agree. I just don’t know enough about the Banks case to say that that is an appropriate example.

    So Quentin got an eight game suspension for charging the mound and busting up Greinke’s collarbone. I hear Mattingly petitioned for longer.

    The Knicks have sewn up the two-seed but have a much harder road to face the Heat. Should be a great playoffs.

    Adam Scott took home a winner in a sharply played Masters playoff, with neither he or Cabrera conceding an inch.

    And yes, in case you were wondering, the Rays’ bats still suck.

  25. Chris

    Brian Banks was an aspiring high school and a budding potential college football player in California . He and his accuser apparently met for a moment of intimacy, and then there were claims of a sexual assault . The accuser claimed she was sexually assaulted by Banks . He was taken into custody , interrogated by the cops, without his parents at the scene and then coerced into a confession . What made this all the more unpalatable was the very fact that there was no DNA linking Banks to the assault , but yet he was tried and sentenced to fifteen years but ended up only serving five years . Brian Banks was led to be believe by his public defender and the DA’s office that by pleading ” no contest ” to a lesser charge , it meant he would if anything serve a minimal sentence . Sentenced to fifteen to 25 years for the rape , he was later exonerated after a taped conversation between he and his accuser , who confessed that her only wish, was the money gained via compensation , when she and her parents successfully sued the Los Angeles Unified School District for over $750,000 . Now tell me why is that they’re so f##ked up on the West Coast ? The Los Angeles County DA’s Office must be and possess some of the dumbest mother-##ckers on the face of the planet . . Same as#oles who completely mishandled the OJ Simspon murder trial and turned that ##it into a farce .

    So that two stroke penalty, cost Tiger Woods a chance at his fourth Masters’ Green Jacket ? A sign of the times ?
    Altogether, a great win for Aussie Adam Scott .

    One more reason I will continue to maintain MLB players are some of the dumbest a##holes within professional sports ! Carlos Quentin and Zack Greinke ? What the f#ck is their problem ? As for Magic Johnson , he and the Dodgers’ front office have got to be pi$sed at having signed Greinke to that over-inflated contract that pays him in excess of $140 million . Now the guy will be sidelined for the next eight weeks at a minimum with a broken collar bone. How the f##k is that best serving the Dodgers at this juncture ?

    The Rays bats’ suck and the pitching which was meant to its greatest strength is, and has been way too inconsistent .

    Darrelle Revis to the Bucs ? Well bye-bye Ronde , it’s been good to have known you , but you no longer perform at a high level and it’s been , that way for a number of years .

    Checked out the movie “42” over the weekend . Well worth seeing beyond some of the schmaltz involved as there were some good solid performances throughout the film . .

    Tophatal …………..

  26. Chris

    Brett Favre will be coming to Tampa to provide the Bucs and Rays with his insight as what it takes to become a whiner ………… sorry I meant, winner . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    Tophatal …..

  27. Ronbets

    Off course there’s racial divide there , jury whose makeup eight Caucasians , four minorities and a prosecution whose handling of the case the case was so skewered and with the intent of railroading the kid . And never mind the fact that there was …… no DNA proof linking Banks to the rape other than the alleged victim’s lies . So explain to me what wasn’t wrong with the case right from the start ? And bear in mind Brian Banks a minor , was interrogated by the police without legal representation or the present of a guardian . Last I looked that was unconstitutional .

    Bad advice is that what we ought to state was the cause of Brian Banks’ being incarcerated ?

    Tophatal ……………

  28. Maybe. Dude is a good coach but he was on the court so much during the tournament only Siva played more minutes. Get off the damn court unless it’s a time out!

    p.s. Only Erik Spoelstra is in Pitino’s league as far as this pet peeve of mine is concerned

  29. Al…

    I caught Banks on Jim Rome’s radio show the other day. The Falcons have just signed him, marking another reason they’re going to be tough to beat this season. The guy sounds determined to make an impact and after all he’s been through, who’s to doubt he can’t.

    Yeah, Tiger took the two strokes but it could have been far worse. They were people, and plenty of them, who felt he should have been disqualified for turning in an incorrect scorecard.

    Still undecided as to whether I’m gonna check out 42. I mean, I know I’ll see it eventually and everything I’ve heard about it is solid but I pretty much know the story. Is there anything in there that you didn’t know about going in?

  30. Drew…

    They’re both excitable coaches. That sideline stepping doesn’t bother me as much as it does you. And if the refs aren’t giving them warnings, then who really cares?

    Hey, they’re no Mike Rice.

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