Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Posted on: October 27, 2008 11:11 am

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I see you called Arizona one of the "top 10 programs in America" last week. I'm fairly sure you also stated as much about Indiana when that job was open. So what are the top 10 programs?

-- Brian

What I mean when I describe something as a "top 10 program" is that it should be one of the top 10 programs in America when everything is going the right way. Obviously, that's not the case at Arizona right now. But assuming Jim Livengood makes a great hire I believe Arizona will again establish itself as one of the top 10 programs in America.

Does that make sense?

If not, try to think of it like this: Pretend you are the nation's hottest coaching candidate and attached to no particular school or region. Now pretend every school wants to hire you and then try to determine which 10 jobs would give you the best chance to succeed based upon factors like the level of national prestige, the recruiting advantages (geographic or otherwise), the passion of the fanbase and the commitment from the administration.

That's how you determine a great program.

In that case, my list would probably look like this:

1. North Carolina
3. Duke
4. Kansas
5. Ohio State
6. Texas
7. Kentucky
8. Arizona
9. Indiana
10. Connecticut


Since: Feb 29, 2008
Posted on: November 6, 2008 3:34 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

I would have to agree with most everyone else here...UK should be ahead of Texas and OSU.  It sounds to me (and based on your criteria) that the main reason for placing them higher than UK is the pressure/expectations of the position.  National prestige, fanbase passion, administration commmitment and recruiting advantages ARE all things UK has.  Based on your logic, you'd almost have to put Texas and OSU ahead of all of the schools on your list, most noteably UNC and UCLA...just ask Daugherty and Lavine how they felt about the expectations during their short tenures.  Their are several schools out there like Texas and OSU where the lack of pressure allows a coach to run a good program without the pressure of actually winning a national championship.

All top programs (all sports) have high expectations of their coaches.  That's why they are top programs. 


Since: Jan 31, 2007
Posted on: November 6, 2008 12:25 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Gary Gary Gary,

You're showing that you're still wet behind the ears.....UK behind OSU and Texas?.......Does anyone really need to explain the stupidity of a comment like this.

Admit it Gary, whenever you need some activity on your site, you ruffle some feathers by disrespecting UK Basketball so you can get people like me to pile on.....once again you have succeeded


Since: Sep 26, 2007
Posted on: November 5, 2008 12:49 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Your comments are just now being brought to my attention and now I must reply to this Rick Barnes "accepted in basketball circles" comment.

There is absolutely no way that Kentucky fans looked more highly upon Rick Barnes than Billy Gillispie. I certainly didn't and I know of no one else that did. In my mind, Rick Barnes is the opposite of what Tubby Smith was for UK. Tubby did more with less talent than any coach of a premier program. Rick Barnes has done less with tons of talent. My perception of Rick Barnes is that he, for whatever reason, is incapable of coaching any team to a national title. That is why Kentucky fans did not want him. The national perception may be different (and, for that matter, the UK administration's at that time), but for UK fans, national titles are important. Gillispie appears to have that insatiable drive to recruit and win titles, Barnes does not. Also, I don't remember Barnes ever being offered the UK job.

As for Ohio St. and Texas being above UK on your list -- how many people waited in line for days to watch the first practice to see the new recruits for Ohio st. and Texas?

And btw, 99.9% of UK fans gave GIllispie a pass for losing to Gardner Webb. Also, if that were a reason to put UK below those two teams, why did you not apply that to UNC or Kansas?

The more I dissect your reasoning, the more flaws I find.    

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 11:43 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Hey Gary,
While we're hypothesizing here, where would the current version of Purdue rank on your list.  Top 30?  They have a decent amount of history within the Big Ten, though not really in the tourney.  For fan-base loyalty, though Purdue fans can be finicky, I'd only put them behind IU, MSU, Illinois, and maybe Wisconsin.   The state has been packed with talent lately (with Painter taking full advantage) and that doesn't look like it will change any time soon.  Mackey Arena is being highly revamped along with a bball practice facility being added as part of a $100 million makeover.  Painter is already done recruiting through 2010 as you know.

As mediocre as OSU was just a short time ago for most of the 80's and 90's (so before Thad) I still have a hard time seeing them as a team that would be ahead of bball hotspots such as MSU and Illinois, or even Wisconsin, where there has consistently been more success

I guess I'd put MSU around 14, Illinois around 17, and Wiscy and Purdue near the end of the top 25.  I think with three solid years of conf championships and tourney runs, Purdue could realisticalyl be considered top 15.  Meanwhile, if OSU keeps on with it's one-and-done's they will begin to suffer scholarship losses due to the way the APR is recorded correct?

Anyhow, maybe more thought than you wanted to put into it, but I was curious.

Since: Feb 25, 2007
Posted on: October 28, 2008 6:44 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

After further review I would drop Texas, Arizona, and UConn out of the Top Ten and put in their place Louisville, Syracuse, and Michigan State.  Neither Arizona nor UConn had great success before Olson and Calhoun, respectively, so it definitely remains to be seen how much was/is program and how much the particular coach.  All three of the programs I substituted have all been to Final Fours under more than one coach (3 each UL and MSU, 2 for Syracuse), so that is a major criterion for determining a program's success.

Since: Feb 25, 2007
Posted on: October 28, 2008 5:15 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Perhaps all these people dissing Ohio State aren't aware that OSU is #6 in terms of Final Four appearanceswith 10 (still sixth even if you discount the vacated appearance in 1999), so that would clearly mark them as a Top Ten program.  Having said that, since Kentucky is ahead of them in Final Four appearances I would move Kentucky up to #5, dropping OSU to #6 and Texas to #7.

Interesting tidbit:  OSU is 5-0 vs. Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

Since: Jun 28, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2008 12:24 am

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Now while i love the team you got on top of list.. the rest of the list's order is in question even to me.. a UNC fan.  If your just putting up 10 teams then you should not have numbered them.  Anyway here they are jumbled around as i would have them with reasons!

1. North Carolina- GO heels.. nuff said

2. UCLA- most ncaa's and 3 Final Fours in the past 3 years.. definately number 2 due to history and today.

3. Kentucky-History of the game.. Rupp means something, and to me the fans push them up higher.  The fans i know keep you on your toes so i don't know why you invited the hate mail by putting them lower.

4. Duke- If dook had more than the Coach K era then they could be higher, because while it is a HOF era, it is just not as long as the above teams who have had consistant greatness for years.

5. Kansas- History is long and near the heart of the game, but the team has not been as dominate as the above teams, i wish i could move Kansas up more than any other team, it was really a coinflip between dook and Kansas for 4.

6. Indiana-Bobby Knight is still the man, He made Indiana basketball what it is today every chair throwing bit of him, they would be higher if he had stayed.

7. Arizona -Lute was another great, his heritage will never be forgotten, I just wish he had gotten to go out in a better fashion, at least he has a 30 years younger wife to go home to:)

8. Connecticut -Calhoon still has several years left to raise UCONN's stature, but this is as lofty a perch as they deserve today.

9. Texas10. Ohio State-  I'm not sure that Texas or Ohio State belong in this top 10, while they are great programs their history is not as long nor as great as several other programs.  While today those programs are chugging along spendidly, i don't know that they are top 10 ALL TIME programs.  If you meant just today best programs.. well then you might be closer to correct, but i still don't know about some numbers.

others that should be considered: another big 10 school  or at least 1 more SEC school or another PAC-10 school or another Big East school.   I did not put specific names down because when you think of the conference you SHOULD know who i am thinking about..



Since: Nov 28, 2007
Posted on: October 27, 2008 6:08 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Gary, (dude)

Since we're "pretending" I can see your point but you've left off a few that I would have added....Florida, Michigan St., Oklahoma St., Minnesota and Memphis....with the disclaimor statement......"In no particular order" (btw thats a hint too to save you alot of trouble in the future)

Using the above set of criteria that you gave......

National Prestige, is tough to determine but if you're counting National Titles UCLA (11) followed by Kentucky(7), Indiana (5) N. Carolina (4),Kansas(3), Duke(3).   Overall wins....Kentucky, N. Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse.....

Recruiting Advantages from a geographic standpoint you're probably right about Texas having more resources within the state....after all Texas is the largest state so that stands to reason.....But there are many factors involved in this......I think Coaches themselves are more vital to the recruiting aspect in todays landscape than ever before......and as we all know its all about the Jimmy's and Joe's not the X's and the O's. Just ask Billy Gillispie, and if you can reach him I know he's extremely busy year round with frequent visits to many hospitals across the nation this time of year.....(ultrasounds are peaking for the 2027 season!) Also, I can't speak about other colleges or what types of facilities they have available but I do know that UK just completed a 35 million dollar practice facility for its players. As well as most recruits comments is UK's facilities are unmatched by anyone.

Passion of Fanbase......Come on Gary! I've read many of the "Gary, you're an idiot" lines as well as the tried and true "I hope you die" for my Birthday wishes from UK fans man! Thats got to be worth this one at least? Just ask Tubby's realtor.....But if Billy Clyde wins a National Title or two he may decide to get out of the "fish bowl" and run for govenor? (Think Nickleback and their hit Rockstar) But if you disagree......sic him boys! (thats a joke btw)

And finally committment from the Administration.....again subjective, but with all the top programs their fans expect to win to some its one of those 'What have you done for me lately" scenario's...

One that you left off that kinda shocked me was pay.......thats the one criteria that seems to keep most coaches moving from state to state and repeating over and over again how much they love the fans, the school, the atmosphere, how they're at home now and don't wish to ever they're throwing away the old jacket and putting on the new colors of course....kinda reminds me of what one of my ex-wives said now that I think about it, but there you go and speaking of the money factor....because ultimately loyalty went out in the 70's along with the sexual revolution, and the outsourcing of American in no particular order of course! UK, KU, Memphis, Louisville, UNC, Duke, Florida, Minnesota and lets not forget Mr. Pickens out in Oklahoma far as schools with the deepest pockets....

Since: Oct 27, 2008
Posted on: October 27, 2008 2:49 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

I see where you are coming from and agree with you somewhat.  There is no question that being the KY coach is way more that just coaching.  It's practically the highest ranking postion in the state and brings with it many outside responsibilities. 

It is not a job for just anybody and certainly has it's cons.  It's one of those jobs that some people live for and others wouldn't touch.  The office of president comes to mind.  Not that UK's coach is anywhere near as important as the least outside the state of KY!

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: October 27, 2008 2:36 pm

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

It is widely accepted in basketball circles that Rick Barnes was higher on UK's "wish list" than Billy Gillispie.

Almost nobody disputes this.

So take that for what it's worth.

As for disagreeing on this issue, that's fine. I knew when I didn't have UK in the top five that it would seem odd, and I also know a reasonable case could be made in UK's favor. Your point about four different coaches winning national titles would be a good place to start. But it just seems that in today's climate it is easier for OSU and Texas to get players than it is for Kentucky, for whatever reason. And given that OSU and Texas have endless resources (Kentucky does as well, I know) I think it's fair to rank those jobs ahead of Kentucky in the Year 2008.

But again, I realize this can be disputed.

So dispute away!

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