Where Do ACC Basketball Coaches Come From?

Now that the recent NC State coaching search has concluded and more discussion of the decline of coaching in the Atlantic Coast Conference has continued, I wondered to myself — where did ACC basketball coaches come from? (Other than being delivered by the stork). There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth that State didn’t land the coach from Texas, Arizona or Florida but if you look at it, no other ACC schools are landing coaches of that caliber either.

Notes to keep in mind, I just looked at the coaches previous college head coaching job which doesn’t account for a gap like Mark Gottfried or coming from the NBA like Leonard Hamilton. Schools may have changed conferences since a coach was hired, for example Dave Leitao came from DePaul which is currently a Big East school but was in Conference USA at the time of his hire. I only considered the time period in which the school was a member of the ACC.

Let’s look at the ACC coaches hired in the past 20 years. There have been 24 ACC coaches hired in the last 20 years plus the currently vacant Miami position.

Only 8 of those 24 coaches (33.3%) had their previous college head coaching job at a BCS school (ACC, Big East, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 10):

• Rick Barnes, Clemson / Providence
• Leonard Hamilton, Florida St / Miami
• Mark Gottfried, NC State / Alabama
• Matt Doherty, North Carolina / Notre Dame
• Roy Williams, North Carolina / Kansas
• Pete Gillen, Virginia / Providence
• Tony Bennett, Virginia / Washington St
• Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest / Colorado

Here is a breakdown of the previous conference for those 24 hires:

• 16.7% – Atlantic 10 (Dayton, Rhode Island, Xavier)
• 16.7% – Big East (Miami, Notre Dame, Providence)
• 12.5% – None (no previous college head coaching experience)
• 8.3% – Big 12 (Colorado, Kansas)
• 8.3% – Conference USA (DePaul, South Florida)
• 8.3% – Metro Atlantic (Loyola (MD), Sienna)
• 8.3% – WAC (Tulsa, Wyoming)
• 4.2% – Horizon (Wright St)
• 4.2% – Ivy (Cornell)
• 4.2% – Mid-American (Miami(OH))
• 4.2% – Pac-10 (Washington St)
• 4.2% – SEC (Alabama)

A few points jumped out at me. The only time in the past 20 years that an ACC school hired away an established big-name coach from a basketball power was Roy Williams. Also, that 3 of those 24 coaches never had any college head coaching experience (Frank Haith, Bill Guthridge, Sidney Lowe).

And another point to consider is that only a third of the time in the past 20 years an ACC school hired a coach where his previous college head coaching job was at a BCS school. NC State just hired one of those coaches in that category in Mark Gottfried.

Listed chronologically, here are where ACC coaches have come from (their previous college head coaching job):

Boston College
• Cornell (Donahue)
• Rhode Island (Skinner)

• Wright St (Brownell)
• Dayton (Purnell)
• Wyoming (Shyatt)
• Providence (Barnes)
• South Alabama (Ellis)
• UNC-Charlotte (Foster)
• Miami of Ohio (Locke)
• None (Roberts, Maravich, McFadden)

• Army (Krzyzewski)
• Utah (Foster)
• None (McGeachy)
• West Virginia (Waters)
• None (Bubas, Bradley)

Florida St
• Miami (Hamilton)
• Robinson (Tulsa)
• Kennedy (Iona)

Georgia Tech
• Dayton (Gregory)
• Siena (Hewitt)
• Appalachian St (Cremins)
• South Carolina (Morrison)

• Ohio St (Williams)
• None (Wade)
• Davidson (Driesell)
• None (Fellows, Millkan)

• None (Haith)

NC State
• Alabama (Gottfried)
• None (Lowe)
• Miami of Ohio (Sendek)
• East Tennessee St (Robinson)
• Iona (Valvano)
• Florida (Sloan)
• Clemson (Maravich)
• None (Case)

North Carolina
• Kansas (Williams)
• Notre Dame (Doherty)
• None (Guthridge, Smith)
• St John’s (McGuire)

• Washington St (Bennett)
• DePaul (Leitao)
• Providence (Gillen)
• None (Jones)
• Davidson (Holland)
• None (Gibson)
• Washington & Lee (McCann)
• None (Male)

Virginia Tech
• South Florida (Greenberg)

Wake Forest
• Colorado (Bzdelik)
• Loyola of MD (Gaudio)
• Xavier (Prosser)
• East Carolina (Odom)
• Xavier (Staak)
• Marshall (Tacy)
• Penn (McCloskey)
• None (Murdock, McKinney, Greason)

South Carolina
• North Carolina (McGuire)
• None (Morrison)
• Virginia Tech (Noe)
• None (Stevens, Hambrick)
• Ole Miss (Johnson)

As you can see, despite the ACC being one of the most historic and successful conferences in the country, most of the time the head coaching hires don’t come from major conference, big name schools much less established powers.

So State fans probably let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs when wanting the coaches in Tucson, Austin and Gainesville to come to Raleigh when historically that type of thing just doesn’t happen in the ACC.

But we did land a coach whose previous head coaching job was in a BCS conference, which you can see doesn’t always happen very often either. Time will tell how Mark Gottfried will do at NC State but his experience from Alabama has to be seen as a plus that most recent ACC hires didn’t bring to the job.

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About WV Wolf

Graduated from NCSU in 1996 with a degree in statistics. Born and inbred in West "By God" Virginia and now live in Raleigh where I spend my time watching the Wolfpack, the Mountaineers and the Carolina Hurricanes as well as making bar graphs for SFN. I'm @wvncsu on the Twitter machine.

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20 Responses to Where Do ACC Basketball Coaches Come From?

  1. Plz2BStateFan 04/11/2011 at 9:44 PM #

    The only good ones will come from the Dean Smith, Roy William, Coach K, and Gary Williams coaching trees.

    It is obvious that no others will be able to compete.

  2. novawolf 04/11/2011 at 10:42 PM #

    Thanks WV for pointing out something that ACC grads who follow ACC bball either know or should know…ACC coaches come almost exclusively from head coaching jobs at lesser schools. Judging from the schools and the timeframes that ACC schools have hired, the only selections that I’d consider true laterals in ACC history both went back to their alma maters…Roy Williams to UNC and Gary Williams to Maryland. The others, even those from BCS coaches, were promotions. (Note that MG did not come directly from Alabama, and I don’t consider Alabama to NCSU a lateral.) With that in mind, had DY gotten Miller, Barnes, or Donovan, she would have pulled off something never before done in the ACC. Hard to believe that some of us considered her inability to make history a failure.

    While I’m happy with MG hire, I can’t help but wonder how much of this perception of our fans being a disadvantage is at least due in part to our insistence on a “big name” in our coaching searches. And I wonder if had there been a better candidate than our MG hire that we could have gotten, if we could have gotten him had we not spent almost 3 weeks pursuing candidates that ACC history indicates we had little chance at getting.

  3. wolfwarrior 04/12/2011 at 3:26 AM #

    Did the big bucks that State paid the so called “professional searching firm” enable DY & her staff to have this data ?
    If so, why was it not released to the “passionate” fanbase? Certainly it appears this was not the case.

  4. nycfan 04/12/2011 at 6:47 AM #

    In part, anyone who suggested this during the search was likely to be labeled a defeatest telling State to know its place and settle for less. Look, anyone who didn’t have inside info on Billy Donovan meeting at Brothers Pizza to assemblie a staff to include Sean Miller as his top assistant and coach in waiting was generally shouted down. ;).

    Coaching searches are generally like that, a white hot, concentrated sort of WTNY except replace year with era and wrap it in a mystery of who is considering the job and under what circumstances. It is ripe for wild-eyed optimists, people with “sources” and conspiracy theorists.

  5. Wulfpack 04/12/2011 at 6:51 AM #

    The problem for me is that Debbie Yow talked an awfully big game in her initial press conference. We were all led to believe we would land a big name. She talked about coaches currently playing in the NCAA Tournament and that had a proven track record. So you can’t place all of the blame on Pack fans this time around — it came straight from the horse’s mouth. I am luke warm on the Gottfried hire especially now that he seems to be assembling a good staff. Time will certainly tell but he would not have been a candidate for me starting out. I just think Yow’s rhetoric also helped in inflating our egos.

  6. packgrad2000 04/12/2011 at 8:03 AM #

    Yeah for me it wasn’t that she didn’t land a “big name,” it’s just that I think she should have gone for the “lesser name” a lot sooner, instead of the perception that we’re being turned down left and right. But who knows what really went on. Maybe there really was a “big name” on the hook.

  7. Lock 04/12/2011 at 8:59 AM #

    Wulfpack: Then she did what she was hired to do. What, would you rather she have said “We’re gonna TRY for a big name, but let’s be honest here….” No, she would have been carted out of the state the next day, if that long after.

    She’s supposed to talk big; we need her to talk big. And then she’s supposed to follow up on it as best as humanly possible. Whether or not she did, only she and those inside the search know for sure, but we have very little reason to believe otherwise.

    Time will tell.

  8. tann84 04/12/2011 at 9:11 AM #

    I agree with Lock here. It’s a tough situation for her but thats why she gets a six figure salary. That was the only way to do it. Talk big, if you get the coach you want then you’re the hero, if not then you’ll take some heat but still make a good hire. I think thats what she did. You can’t fault her for that.

    What you can fault her for was that letter sent 18 hours before the hire that had State Fans pressing the auto-destruct button. I understand the desire to send out info to the fan base to keep them abreast on the situation but it just came off all wrong. But none of us is perfect. I’m happy with the hire. Her fall guy was a guy who fit all of her qualifications. thats better than last time.

  9. JeremyH 04/12/2011 at 9:28 AM #

    I really like the setup of this article. Statements are supported by data give in the article. What a concept!

  10. BladenWolf 04/12/2011 at 9:54 AM #

    I think everyone instinctively knew that not many ACC coaches came from other BIG NAME schools. All you had to do was look around. We all knew Jimmy V came from Iona, K came from Army, and Cremmins came from App. State. But we still wanted a big name anyway. The difference is wanting vs. expecting. They are not mutually inclusive and some of us didn’t know the difference. I’m certainly glad WV Wolf provided the data to clearly support this reality. Now maybe the carping of “we shoulda landed Barnes, Miller, Donovan, etc.” will be put to rest.

    Having said that, we should always reach for the stars and talk big, including and especially our AD. Otherwise we sound like a “know your role” Seth Davis. So there is a balancing act there. As Lock pointed out, if Yow hadn’t talked it up big, we would have made our relationship with Sendek look like a love fest. Just look at how some responded to “the letter”.
    I’m very satisfied at this point. Exuberant? No. But satisfied? Yes. Yow did exponentially better than Uncle Jed. Coach Gottfried is an established head coach and is starting to assemble a stellar staff as compared to Sidney waiting to take his final college exams. And we have CURRENT players with outstanding potential on our team.

    As we all know the proof is in the pudding and we will all see this November how things are working out (if not before with the recruits). For me, it’s been a much more professional and quality process and I’m not gonna be critical and negative until there is something to be critical or negative about.

    Good post WV Wolf. The good karma continues even if some don’t want to recognize it.

  11. PoppaJohn 04/12/2011 at 10:14 AM #

    This is an excellent post, thank you! Despite our histrionics, DY did a good job.
    The hire passes the eye test. Now we need to judge based on performance.

  12. WV Wolf 04/12/2011 at 10:17 AM #

    Several of you have made an excellent point about Yow’s comments in the first press conference that probably got our hopes too high, myself included.

    Thanks for the comments so far, good discussion.

  13. JSRy2k 04/12/2011 at 11:38 AM #

    Ditto re: Yow’s presser. Her bravado is what has us let down, not the hire. In the big picture, including for the history of NCSU, Gottfried is actually a very strong hire.

  14. Wolfy__79 04/12/2011 at 11:49 AM #

    honestly, i think we had the best hire of the season this year! which includes the staff he’s put together so far heading into the summer.. but i’m pleased with MG!

  15. newt 04/12/2011 at 11:52 AM #

    This info probably wasn’t presented to the fans before/during the coaching search because it’s common sense.

    But it’s great to see the common sense understanding laid out with rock solid, irrefutable numerical evidence.

  16. scotchzombie 04/12/2011 at 12:00 PM #

    Very well-researched and well-executed article. Our high hopes were driven by how close we came to a big hire last time, Yow’s comments and the rumor mill. I think most knew that the big hire was unlikely (many home run references were made), but I absolutely support Yow for trying. I am happy with the result, but the letter still gets my goat (even though it was probably successful as a PR manipulation).

  17. WolftownVA81 04/12/2011 at 12:19 PM #

    Great article. This should be saved and used as a template for managing expectations during the next coaching search (baseball?).

  18. PackerInRussia 04/12/2011 at 12:40 PM #

    “Did the big bucks that State paid the so called “professional searching firm” enable DY & her staff to have this data ?
    If so, why was it not released to the “passionate” fanbase? Certainly it appears this was not the case.”

    I think because that would have been seen as excuse-making before even trying. I don’t think something like that would go over well. And, just because something has never happened doesn’t mean an entire fanbase will not still root for it to happen.

  19. Wufpacker 04/12/2011 at 12:40 PM #

    STILL Sounds like a lot of folks heard what they wanted to hear from the initial press conference. Yow promised nothing. She said she was going to “try like crazy” to bring someone who fit the description of the “ideal” candidate and that’s exactly what she did.

    It’s people like this that the “fine print” was created for.

  20. Wolfy__79 04/12/2011 at 2:38 PM #

    to me, Yow has been very consistent in front of the media. what i heard was she wasn’t backing down and has vision..

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