Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Top Coaching Jobs - #2

With Indiana facing certain sanctions from the NCAA for the next several years, the Hooisers were still able to land Tom Crean. Roy Williams left the Kansas Jayhawks for North Carolina in 2003. Kansas was able to replace him with Bill Self, from Illinois, who just recently turned down Oklahoma State to stay at Kansas.

It makes you wonder, what are the Top 10 coaching jobs in college basketball? We here at Drinking the Forty consulted with some of the finest basketball experts in the country to find out. Hey, if ESPN can pull random people off the street and call them experts, then we can too.

Here is our Top 10, based on a program’s national persona, recent success, fan base, facilities, history and tradition, and potential for future success.

#2.) UCLA Bruins

UCLA is easily the most storied program in college basketball history. The records amassed under John Wooden, with players like Lou Alcindor and Bill Walton will never be touched again in college basketball. With ten national titles in a twelve year span, UCLA has forever etched their place in college basketball lore.

However, since 1975, the UCLA program had struggled only winning one national title, in 1995. The program struggled after the 1995 title, leading to Steve Lavin’s departure and a few seasons with a losing record, which had previously been unheard of for the Bruins. However, things started to change with the hire of Ben Howland, from Pittsburgh. Howland has restored the program to one of the elite in college basketball, as the Bruins have accomplished three straight Final Four appearances, an astonishing feat for today’s game.

Howland has re-energized the program with a dedication to defense and the ability to recruit top notch talent like Kevin Love, Darren Collison, and Jrue Holliday to Los Angeles. UCLA has remained atop what is a very competitive Pac-10. There have been many challengers, but no one has been able to unseat them from the top. With the history and prestige of the program, coupled with their renewed success, UCLA is back in the national limelight and it will allow them to continue to recruit. With a top notch location in UCLA, pro prospects heading to the NBA, and a cross town rivalry with USC starting to heat up, UCLA is in prime position to dominate the West Coast.

While it is tough to maintain a rabid fan base in such a sports saturated and red carpet dominated market, UCLA has a loyal group and as long as they remain successful will be able to pack the house. The glimmering lights of LA and Hollywood will play to Howland’s favor in recruiting players that want to prepare for the NBA while achieving the maximum exposure. While they are currently re-stocking their NBA talent, and have only become relevant again in the past five years, UCLA appears here to stay with a program that is made for the big time. With a great coach, a solid fan base, a storied program, and a great locale for recruiting, UCLA is firmly entrenched at number two on this list, and it may not be long before it reclaims its grasp on number one.

#3.) Kansas Jayhawks
#4.) Duke Blue Devils
#5.) Kentucky Wildcats
#6.) Indiana Hooisers
#7.) Florida Gators
#8) Michigan State Spartans
#9.) Connecticut Huskies
#10.) Arizona Wildcats

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