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COLUMN: Coaches equal success, especially for these guys

assistant sports editor

Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 23:01

Jeff Dahdah

Statesman File Photo

This is the first of a series of “top ten” columns that will run every Thursday.

In America head coach success rates change on a yearly basis, with that in mind here is a list of the best coaches in American sports right now:

1: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Blue Devils
Coach K is the best coach in America right now. He has made Duke a consistent power in college basketball. Duke’s streak of 122 straight weeks in the AP top ten ranking just ended this week; that is the second-longest top ten run in history behind the great John Wooden’s UCLA team. Any time a coach can be second to Wooden in anything, you know it is an amazing feat. Coach K is a living legend right now; he has been to 11 NCAA Final Fours and won the championship four times, and not to mention he is the all-time leader in Division I basketball wins with 957. Oh, and he has two gold medals with the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team.

2: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Popovich has been a beacon in the NBA for years and has been at the helm of the Spurs since 1996. In that time span, he has claimed four NBA championships and earned the NBA Coach Of The Year award twice. Popovich is one of two coaches in NBA history to win 900 games with the same team, and the Spurs are still going strong under Pop too. Popovich and the Spurs have managed to bore people with how good they are.

3: Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide
Since 2008, Saban has a 72-9 record and three championships with Alabama. That isn’t a typo. That is six seasons with nine losses and three championships. The other thing about Saban that makes him so good is the droves of players he sends into the NFL; there have been 33 Alabama alumni drafted in the last five NFL Drafts.

4: Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks
Quenneville is an under-appreciated coach in North American sports. In the last five seasons he has led the Blackhawks to two Stanley Cup Final appearances and won both of them. He currently has Chicago two points away from the lead in the Western Conference and finished last season with a winning percentage above .800.

5: Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
Francona has won two World Series titles, both with the Red Sox. However we all know how that ended; a beautiful collapse in 2011 and Boston missing the playoffs earned him a spot in the unemployed manager club for 2012. Francona then led an Indians team that won 68 games in 2012 to a playoff birth. He also won the MLB Manager of the Year award in 2013.

6: Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans
Izzo is the face of Michigan State. He led the Spartans to seven NCAA Final Fours and won one championship there. Michigan State has been to 15-straight NCAA Tournament berths. Izzo has made the Spartans an automatic contender each year.

7: Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Take a step back from the Eagles recent loss in the first round of the playoffs a week ago and see that Kelly has proven what many doubted; he and his upbeat style can win in the NFL. Kelly in one season has made himself a novelty in modern football, a coach who can have success in the NFL and college using an offense based on tempo.

8: Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
Girardi is one of those coaches who is in the limelight of New York and has succeeded. The Yankees saw Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkillis, Mark Texeira, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez all miss significant time, if not the season. Despite all of their injuries, the Yankees somehow almost made the playoffs with an 85-77 record. He also has a World Series title under his belt.

9: Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake/New York City FC
Kries has been coaching since 2007. In that time, he has been to two MLS championships and won one, including Real Salt Lake’s appearance in the MLS Cup this year in what was supposed to be a “rebuilding year.” Kreis has also been selected to be coach of the new MLS team in New York affiliated with the English Premiere League team Manchester City. Kreis appears to be on the forefront of a new trend for the MLS: a farm system for the EPL.

10: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were 2-14 last year. They were the worst team in the NFL. They were 11-5 this year. I feel like that is reason enough to be on this list.

Honorable Mentions:
Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh, Doc Rivers and Rick Pitino 

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