The Mount Rushmore of the ACC: Basketball Coaches
The Confidential was pondering Mount Rushmore recently. While it is debatable which four Presidents should be featured on Mount Rushmore, has there been a recent President that would make the short list of “should be on its”? Probably not. But that got me thinking about who would be on the Mount Rushmore of the ACC. Of course, it is hard to compare apples and oranges, making the process difficult when dealing with players sticking around for 1-5 years and coaches that are around for 20+. So we will have to do multiple mountains… starting with the ACC Mount Rushmore of Basketball Coaches.
Who is not eligible? We are going to avoid the coaches for Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville, and Notre Dame. Jim Boeheim is in the real basketball Hall of Fame and is synonymous with the Big East. So let’s not feel TOO sorry about his ineligibility for this list. Denny Crum and Rick Pitino certainly have plenty of awards to fall back on. We just have to limit it to the 12 schools that were officially part of the ACC as of June 30, 2013.
But that still leaves a lot of high-quality coaches.
The first two names are the easiest… Dean Smith (North Carolina) and Mike Krzyzewski (Duke). Really, did we need the names of the schools in parentheses? These two coaches are simply icons at their institutions. You would be hard pressed to find anything overly scandalous about either coach either. Performance? Coach K is the all-time wins leader, currently at 957-297, with a few gold medals to add to his national title collection.
Dean Smith has a robust record of 879-254, with 20 Sweet Sixteens, leading to 15 Elite Eights, and 11 Final Fours. Smith’s ACC championships are in the teens–both in terms of regular season and tournament trophies. And we will use the phrase “only” when discussing his two national titles.
The third image for the ACC Basketball Coaching Mount Rushmore will be initially controversial from a wins standpoint, but let us explain. Jim Valvano won a national championship at North Carolina State. The image of him running around after that colossal upset is burned in our minds. While his overall success falls well short of other coaches, his passion is part of the reason that college sports is so popular. Simply stated, Valvano embodied everything that is great about the college game. His courageous battle with cancer, leading to the V Foundation is yet another reason why Jim Valvano goes beyond merely wins and deserves a spot.
The fourth and final spot is difficult. The Confidential considered Frank McGuire. Just look up what he did for North Carolina, and then former-ACC member South Carolina. But he resigned amid scandal. The current woes of North Carolina have Roy Williams on shaky ground too. We need more time. It is difficult to choose between Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams at Maryland. One had longevity, the other won a national title. And Terry Holland simply built Virginia from scratch. Norm Sloan and Everett Case had impressive results, as older ACC fans can remind us.
But, ultimately, the Confidential went with Bobby Cremins, who also built Georgia Tech from scratch and devoted 20 years of his coaching career to the Yellow Jackets. He won three coach of the year awards in the ACC, which matches anyone eligible for the #4 spot. Georgia Tech went to an impressive nine straight NCAA tournaments under Cremins. While a good case could be made for several other coaches, the nod goes to Cremins.
What do you think?? Too much Tobacco Road? Too little? Let us know below.