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The Best Coaches in SEC History

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Every year the SEC sends me a basketball media guide and every season I use it for leisure (aka sitting on the toilet) reading to try and pick up little bits of history about basketball in the Conference. The other night I was looking through the guide and I noticed that there was a section on the Winningest SEC Coaches in Conference History. I found the list very interesting and the statistics in it as confirmation/verification of some things that fans probably believe. First, UK coaches dominate and second, some current coaches stack up historically much better than you would imagine.

What follows are the All-Time SEC leaders for coaches who coached after WWII in the SEC and were in the league a minimum of five years. Note that for some coaches (like Tubby Smith and CM Newton) the records can go over their time at 2 schools, and their total with both schools is what you see below:

WINNING PERCENTAGE (all games)

1. Adolph Rupp .822
2. Rick Pitino .814
3. Tubby Smith .751
4. Joe B Hall .748
5. Bruce Pearl .733
6. Ray Mears (UT) .715
7. Billy Donovan .794
8. Wimp Sanderson (Bama).692

WINNING PERCENTAGE (Conference Games)

1. Adolph Rupp .841
2. Rick Pitino .800
3. Joe B Hall .732
4. Tubby SMith .724
5. Bruce Pearl .713
6. Ray Mears (UT) .705
7. Roy Skinner (Vandy) .638

SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS

1. Adolph Rupp 27
2. Joe B Hall 8
3. Tubby Smith 5
4. Babe McCarthy (MSU) 4
5. Dale Brown (LSU) 4
6. CM Newton (VU, Bama) 3
Billy Donovan 3
Ray Mears (UT) 3

Pitino had 2

SEC TOURNAMENTS

1. Adolph Rupp 12
2. Wimp Sanderson 5
Tubby Smith 5
Rick Pitino 5
5. Billly Donovan 3
6. Rick Stansbury 2

A few interesting things for me here. First, it is clear that Adolph Rupp dominates the league in every category. He is the winningest coach, no matter the measure or the viewpoint. Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and Joe B Hall each have their selling points as the next three coaches, with Joe B Hall not coaching at a time that the SEC Tournament was being played. It seems that for regular season play, Pitino and Tubby were about the same at Kentucky (Tubby’s win percentage is brought down a bit by Georgia), but Rick had a bit better success in NCAA play. Also, Bruce Pearl and Billy Donovan do stack up well historically…better than some might imagine. This suggest that it could be a historical peak for coaching in the SEC. Also only six coaches have ever won multiple SEC Tournament titles…although we all expect Calipari to be the 7th soon….UK’s domination of the Tournament is truly remarkable.

So there you go…just some food for thought on a Monday. Nowhere on any of these lists is Billy Clyde, but hey…he was named SEC Coach of the Year the exact same number of times as Rick Pitino…go figure.

Article written by Matt Jones