Major changes have occurred for the Hokies men's basketball team this offseason, with the biggest splash being the hiring of former Marquette coach Buzz Williams. Buzz, who spent one year as the head coach for New Orleans before going over to Marquette, has endured a very successful career so far, with many more years to come (he's only 41 years of age). With a career record of 153-86 over seven seasons as a D-1 head coach, Buzz has established himself as one of the elite coaches at this level.
ESPN has recently released their list of what they believe is the Top 50 Coaches for college basketball, and Buzz placed 38th on this list. View the complete list Here.This list caused us to wonder if this is a fair judgement for the coaches to be ranked against each other. When comparing Buzz to the other coaches on this list, some seemed like they should have been higher and some lower than him, based on our judgement.
First off, there were several coaches that were ranked lower than Buzz that seemed rather strange. John Thompson III of Georgetown has a slightly higher career winning percentage than Buzz', so it seems odd to me that JTIII was ranked 8 spots lower than Buzz. JTIII has made the tournament nine out of 14 times with one Final Four appearance; Buzz with five tournament appearances out of seven chances with no Final Four appearances.
Rick Barnes of Texas, who is going into the 28th season of his career, has a .661 career winning percentage with 21 NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four appearance. He seemed to be given a rather harsh ranking as well, as he only managed to be listed as the 44th best coach in college basketball.
Bruce Weber of Kansas State, with an appearance in the 2005 title game with Illinois and a .672 career winning percentage in 16 seasons, is the 40th best coach according to ESPN. Again, although Buzz is a tremendous coach and I am thrilled to have him at Tech, it befuddles me that ESPN managed to rank him above a coach that has been to a title game and won continuously over the years.
One of the most shocking snubs of this list (in my opinion) is Tubby Smith of Texas Tech coming in as the 39th best coach. Smith has a .683 career winning percentage over 23 years, and he won a title back in '98 with Kentucky. This winning percentage and a championship to go along with it should prove that Smith is much better than many of the coaches that were ranked ahead of him on the list.
Fred Hoiberg of Iowa State, who is listed at number 15 on the list, was one that baffled me. He has a record of 90-47 over a short four year career so far with three NCAA tournament appearances. His stats are very similar to Buzz', which left me wondering why Hoiberg is ranked 23 spots higher than Buzz.
One more surprising ranking was Tad Boyle of Colorado coming in four spots higher than Buzz at 34. Boyle has a .610 career winning percentage over 7 seasons, but has only made the tournament three times and has failed to go deep into any of them.
Finally, seeing that Coach K was not ranked number one shocked me, and he didn't even crack the top three which blew my mind. I guess his four national championships made him the best candidate to be the fourth best coach according to ESPN's list.
Overall, ranking coaches like this does not seem fair or justified because things like wins, winning percentage, length of career, and tournament success all have to be accounted for. On the bright side, however, this list does show that Buzz is being recognized on the national level as one of the top coaches in college basketball, which is a great sign for Hokie nation. If Buzz' emotion in the video below doesn't get you excited for college basketball season then I don't know what will...
Tell us what you think in the comments below!