This is the most unlikely blog post I have ever written, and will probably be the only time I ever say anything nice about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, so copy and save this! But as a college basketball fan I have to give Coach K his props, and want to give four reasons why he should be considered the greatest NCAA tourney coach of all time, far surpassing John Wooden.
1. Coach K doesn't cheat. It is true that John Wooden won ten national championships, twice as many as Coach K's five titles. But Coach K's program has never had any kind of taint of cheating. Contrary to his sainted reputation, the same was not true of John Wooden. Widely known among basketball insiders, but rarely discussed in public, Wooden's players during the dynasty years received illegal favors from a local booster named Sam Gilbert. "Papa Sam" gave the players cash, cars, and even arranged abortions for the players' girlfriends. This was so well-known among coaches that Jerry Tarkanian used to joke that th most important piece of Wooden's famous "Pyramid of Success" was Sam Gilbert! Wooden did not actively court Gilbert's support, but he knew of his activities, and by all accounts essentially turned a blind eye to him. It is interesting that when Seth Davis decided to write a biography of Wooden, people inside basketball would often ask him in hushed tones if he was going to mention Gilbert in the book (he did).