Coaches have little interest in BCNTHWAC club

Updated: January 2, 2006, 2:28 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

Roy Williams got voted off the island a year ago -- and was so happy about it he cried like a newborn. Jim Boeheim got booted two years before that. Bobby Bowden lost his membership in 1993. Tom Osborne lost his in 1994.

Roy Williams and David Noel
Photo by Elsa/Getty ImagesRoy Williams celebrated leaving the list with North Carolina's David Noel.

They used to belong to the world's most exclusive club: BCNTHWAC. Best Coach Never To Have Won A Championship. But that was before the Gatorade showers, the trophy presentations, and later, the ring ceremonies.

BCNTHWAC is both a compliment and a curse. It is the only frat you want to join and then immediately leave.

"People didn't believe me," says North Carolina's Williams, who won his first Final Four after 17 years of trying, "but I was dadgum flattered. Gosh, there's a lot of guys who haven't won one."

Boeheim, who spent 27 years as Syracuse's head coach before snipping an NCAA championship net, was flattered, too. Sort of. Being BCNTHWAC is like wearing the best toupee in the world. It looks good, but you'd rather have the real thing.

"I'm glad I'm not on that list anymore," says Boeheim. "There's so many guys who are really, really good coaches. Some of them don't even get to the Final Four."

And then there are coaches who don't get to Super Bowls, or NBA Championships, or college football championships, or to a World Series. Or they get there, but don't win. They remain forever on the honor roll of BCNTHWAC.

Who is the No. 1, all-time, without-a-doubt, win-a-bar-bet BCNTHWAC?

I'm glad I asked.

Our pool of candidates comes from five divisions: the NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA football and NCAA hoops. I briefly considered adding NHL-related nominees, but I'm still ticked off about the world's stupidest lockout. Plus, Barry Melrose was busy combing his mullet, so I couldn't get him on the phone.

One candidate from each division will advance to the BCNTHWAC playoffs.

The nominees are:

NFL

Bill Cowher, Marv Levy, Dan Reeves, George Allen, Chuck Knox, Bud Grant, Jim Mora and Marty Schottenheimer.

Reeves
Reeves
Cowher wins Best Coach With A Scowl NTHWAC. Schottenheimer has the most NFL wins of any active coach, but has never reached a Super Bowl -- so he's out. Chuck Knox had more career wins than Schottenheimer and more conference championship appearances, but was a Super Bowl no-show too. George Allen was a kooky genius, but that isn't enough to become a finalist. Mora had more wins than Allen and, if nothing else, he'll always have those two USFL championships (including a win against Allen's Arizona Wranglers).

So that leaves Levy, Reeves and Grant.

Levy led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls ... and four consecutive Super Bowl losses. It is a feat that likely will never be duplicated. Thank god.

Reeves led two different franchises -- Denver and Atlanta -- to a total of four Super Bowls. His teams got waxed in three of those games. He lost the fourth one to Denver's Mike Shanahan, the same guy he fired as offensive coordinator when Reeves coached the Broncos.

Grant's Minnesota Vikings teams advanced to four Super Bowls in eight years. And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

And the finalist is ... Reeves, but by a margin thinner than a blade of artificial grass. Reeves not only led two different teams to Super Bowls, but he did it with a quarterback, John Elway, who wanted to throw him into a wood chipper.

MLB

Mauch
Mauch
Al Lopez, Mike Hargrove, Don Zimmer, Clark Griffith, Gene Mauch and Frank Robinson.

I'm just being polite mentioning the other guys. There is only one possible choice.

And the finalist is ... Mauch. The Little General managed 3,951 games over a 26-year span. But only 12 of those games came in the postseason.

No manager has ever suffered more.

College Basketball

Gene Keady, Rick Majerus, Jack Hartman, John Chaney, Billy Tubbs, Tom Davis, Lou Carneseca, Lou Henson, Norm Stewart, Ray Meyer, Ralph Miller, Eddie Sutton, Digger Phelps, Bob Huggins, Jack Ramsay and Lefty Driesell.

Sutton
Sutton
If I'm forgetting another old-timer, well, it doesn't really matter. Keady, Majerus, Carneseca, Stewart and Meyer make the short list, but there can't be any debate about the actual finalist. I'll let Boeheim make the announcement.

"If I had to pick one guy, Eddie Sutton's probably as good a coach who's been around," says Boeheim. "He's taken different teams [Arkansas and Oklahoma State] to the Final Four. He could have won one easily, but it just didn't break for him. He'd have to be the guy at the top of the list."

NBA

Don Nelson, George Karl, Rick Adelman, Joe Lapchick, Fred Schaus and Jerry Sloan.

Sloan
Sloan
Nelson and Pat Riley are the only three-time NBA Coach of the Year winners. And Nelson was named to the league's 10 Greatest Coaches list during its 50-year anniversary celebration in 1996. That means exactly nothing to me. Schaus took the Lakers to four NBA Finals and did a Marv Levy in each one. Lapchick lost three Finals, one more than Adelman and Sloan, two more than Karl.

And the finalist is ... Sloan. The guy has coached 21 seasons, has more than 1,000 wins, but makes his two Finals appearances the same years Michael Jordan, even with an intravenous fluid tube hanging from his arm, can't miss a shot.

College Football

Tommy Tuberville, Frank Beamer, Bill Snyder, Mack Brown, Terry Donahue, Bo Schembechler, Hayden Fry, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Dye, Frank Kush, Jerry Claiborne, Barry Alvarez and Mike Leach (you'll understand years from now).

Michigan's Bo Schembechler (left) won 234 games, but no national titles. Ohio State's Woody Hayes won four.
Tuberville's Auburn team went undefeated in the SEC, finished 13-0, and couldn't get a whiff of a national championship game. Beamer, with a major assist from Michael Vick, has built a legacy at Virginia Tech. Fry and Alvarez did the same things at Iowa and Wisconsin, respectively. But again, this is an easy one.

And the finalist is ... Schembechler. He had 234 wins, which makes him the 10th-winningest coach in Division I-A history, and 17 bowl appearances. Of course, we'll conveniently ignore his 5-12 bowl record.

So, our Fab Five: Schembechler, Sutton, Sloan, Mauch, and Reeves.

Sloan is eliminated first -- not that he'll give a damn. Schembechler goes next, but only because I can't get past that postseason record. Sutton is out, only because I think it's harder to reach four Super Bowls, as Reeves did with two teams, than two Final Fours with two schools.

Gene Mauch
APGene Mauch managed more than 3,900 games.
My BCNTHWAC: Gene Mauch.

Yeah, I know. The Philadelphia Phillies gagged like they had cotton stuffed down their throats in 1964. Mauch's California Angels did the same thing in 1982 and 1986.

But if you measured baseball IQ, Mauch would have been president of Mensa. His teams were victims of cruel fate, but not poor managing. Every decision was considered to the nth degree. Even his mistakes had logic to them.

He never got to slip a World Series ring on his finger. Will a posthumous BCNTHWAC do?

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

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