On December 5th, 2013 the Washington Huskies were not in a particularly good place. The football program had just completed an 8-4 campaign which was fine. Not good, not bad, but fine. The team finished 5-4 in Pac-12 play which was enough for 3rd in the North and 6th overall but they went 0-4 against teams that finished the season ranked and 8-0 against the relative cupcakes. They also were missing their head coach as Steve Sarkisian bolted to L.A to take the Southern California job he’d always dreamed of acquiring.
Meanwhile, the men’s basketball team was also on shaky ground. The previous season the Huskies had earned the unfortunate honor of becoming the first power conference team to win the regular season conference title and yet fail to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They came back led by the veteran guard trio of Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, and C.J Wilcox but were just 4-3 with home losses to Albany and Colorado State and were less than a week away from also dropping a home game to Nevada on the way to a 18-16 campaign.
But the very next day the football team hired Chris Petersen away from Boise State and while there has been plenty of bickering, as fans do no matter how well things are going, there’s no rational way to argue that the program is not in a vastly better place now than it was on 12/5/2013. 3 consecutive New Year’s Bowl appearances, even without a win, is a heck of a lot better than beating BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
I don’t think many Husky basketball fans at the time would’ve believed you if you told them on that day that it would be until 2019 that the Dawgs returned to the NCAA tournament. That Coach Romar would never win 20+ games in a season for Washington again before he was fired despite the Huskies having 4 1st-round picks including the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft during that span. But then Jen Cohen hired Mike Hopkins and all he has done is win a pair of Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards and the program’s first NCAA tournament game in 8 years during his 2 seasons at the helm.
There are troubles, as there always are for all but fans of Duke basketball and Alabama football, but life is good. Which begs the question of course, how good? How many programs out there have a better thing going with their coaching hires in both football and men’s basketball?
Let’s first set our criteria. We’re only looking at schools that have a D-1/FBS football program. As much as possible I want to compare apples to apples and even though Villanova has one of the best men’s basketball coaches in the country I don’t really care how successful their FCS football program is for the sake of this exercise.
The second one doesn’t sound all that tough but it clears away a lot of schools. The current head coach in both sports must have completed at least 2 full seasons at their current school. It’s too likely that with only one year under the helm that a coach was living off the success or failures of the previous coach. If we’re being 100% honest here (you all can keep a secret, right?) it’s probably only fair to do this exercise for coaches with at least 3 if not 4 years. But there are only 20 schools out there who have had a coach for 4+ years in each sport and Hopkins only has 2 and the entire point is to include Washington so that’s what we’re doing.
It might have gotten lost in the shuffle of that paragraph but I am also only including performance at the current school. Nick Saban’s 34-24 record at Michigan State doesn’t feel very relevant to the success that he’s had at Alabama. This means that Chris Petersen doesn’t get credit for his wins at Boise State. That hurts his total but I think it’s the most fair thing to do as some will be harmed and some helped by that restriction.
Finally, I’m not including games played while under an interim tag. Part of that is practical as it’s harder for me to find out when they were the interim coach but I also think it isn’t fair to include wins/losses for a coach when they didn’t get the entire off-season to plan out the upcoming year.
I mentioned above that the “no schools with a coach with 0-1 years of experience at that school” rule knocked out a lot of programs. There are 130 FBS schools now. A full 70 of them have hired a new football or men’s basketball coach since the end of the 2017-18 season. That seems impossible but having even moderate coaching stability in both programs at the same time is a less than 50/50 proposition in this day and age.
On that note, congrats to Appalachian State and Temple who were the only two FBS schools to replace both their football and men’s basketball coaches this offseason. And apologies to UCF, Fresno State, Oregon, and Florida who all would’ve finished in the top-10 if I had included coaches that have been at their current school for just 1 season.
The metric we’re going to use is combined win percentage. This is pretty straight forward. We’re taking the win percentage of the football coach and the win percentage of the men’s basketball coach and just adding them together.
Top-10 Schools in Combined Win % of Current Football/Men’s Basketball Coaches
|Rank||School||FB Coach||FB Win %||MBB Coach||MBB Win %||Comb Win %|
|Rank||School||FB Coach||FB Win %||MBB Coach||MBB Win %||Comb Win %|
|1||Oklahoma||Lincoln Riley||0.857||Lon Kruger||0.604||1.461|
|2*||LSU||Ed Orgeron||0.731||Will Wade||0.676||1.407|
|3||Wisconsin||Paul Chryst||0.778||Greg Gard||0.626||1.404|
|4||Michigan State||Mark Dantonio||0.677||Tom Izzo||0.723||1.4|
|5||Boise State||Bryan Harsin||0.776||Leon Rice||0.605||1.382|
|6||Washington||Chris Petersen||0.691||Mike Hopkins||0.686||1.377|
|7||Clemson||Dabo Swinney||0.806||Brad Brownell||0.571||1.377|
|8||TCU||Gary Patterson||0.729||Jamie Dixon||0.624||1.353|
|9||Notre Dame||Brian Kelly||0.698||Mike Brey||0.653||1.351|
|10||San Diego State||Rocky Long||0.67||Brian Dutcher||0.642||1.312|
You’ll notice I put an asterisk next to the #2 school there. Will Wade has been all but proven to have bought multiple players in basketball throughout the FBI trial and the second that LSU has enough of a case to fire him with cause they will drive him to the airport. If that happens this offseason and they become disqualified then the 11th place finisher moves up who hopefully doesn’t have a coach with a history of cheating in men’s basketball. That program is...Kentucky and men’s basketball coach John Calipari. Whoops.
4 of the 10 programs on that list have a relatively new head coach of just 2 years. That includes the #1 overall program, Oklahoma, with Lincoln Riley who has gone 24-4 (0.857) continuing the Sooner Boomer machine. That when paired with Lon Kruger who has had 20+ wins in 5 of his 8 seasons in Norman is good enough for first place.
As mentioned above, LSU is in 2nd place and both of their coaches have only been around for 2 seasons but have finished with a better than 0.650 win percentage in each. The 3rd place school of Wisconsin is a little bit better in terms of experience as both Paul Chryst and Greg Gard have had 4 seasons for the Badgers and Gard has made 3 NCAA tournaments while Chryst has finished at least 2nd in his division and gone to a bowl game in each season.
If you’re looking for the best truly long-term combination then the winner is likely Michigan State which has had 12 seasons from Mark Dantonio and 24 from Tom Izzo. There have been plenty of off-field concerns with Michigan State players that might prevent you from glorifying the program and their coaches and that’s a very reasonable take. But Michigan State and Duke are the only two FBS schools in the country to keep both coaches for more than a decade.
Clemson and Notre Dame rank 7th and 9th but if you expand the stat above to 9+ years then both also qualify. Dabo Swinney has emerged as one of the 2 best college coaches in all of football while his counterpart Brad Brownell has been just above average and finished with between 8 and 11 conference wins in 7 of his 9 seasons. Things are more even at Notre Dame where Brian Kelly has really only had one bad season with the football program and Mike Brey has made the NCAA tournament in 12 of 19 years with the basketball team. The Golden Domers do slip though if you take away the wins which were technically vacated by Kelly and Notre Dame’s football program.
It’s somewhat ironic that the school that ranks just ahead of Washington is Boise State given it’s unlikely they would rank as highly without Chris Petersen having brought the program to new heights during his tenure. Bryan Harsin has averaged about one win per season better than Washington since Petersen left Boise State but of course the level of competition at Washington is certainly higher and Petersen has outperformed him over the past 3 seasons. Meanwhile, Leon Rice has been in charge of Broncos basketball for 9 seasons and while he’s won 20+ games 7 times, he’s also only been to 2 NCAA tournaments.
What makes Washington’s place on this list exciting is the expectation that a slip isn’t coming any time soon. From a record-only standpoint the football team’s 10-4 mark was considered a bit of a disappointment. It was still better though than Petersen’s career winning percentage at Washington because of the two transition seasons he had before the ascent as a top-15 (at least) program nationally.
It’s unreasonable to think that Mike Hopkins will win Pac-12 coach of the year every single season. But with 5-star Isaiah Stewart on board and potentially 5-star Jaden McDaniels joining as well there’s a good shot that the Huskies will be able to weather the storm of losing 5 of their 6 primary rotation players from a season ago. With the team now finally made in his image it seems very likely that 20+ wins will be a reasonable expectation from here on out.
Put those two realities together and the Huskies are in very good shape to defend their ranking even as other schools manage to put together some stability and challenge them for one of the top few spots.
You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom