Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rookie Coaches

For the first time in AFC Championship history both coaches (Rex Ryan of the Jets and Jim Caldwell of the Colts) are rookie coaches. I was wondering if this has ever happened in the NCAA Tournament.

The last coach to advance to the final four in his rookie season was Bill Gutheridge in 1998 coaching North Carolina. He only coached 3 seasons and had 2 final fours in those 3 seasons. North Carolina lost to Utah in the National Semifinals, but Utah's coach, Rick Majerus, was not a rookie coach.

The last coach to win a National Championship in his rookie season was Steve Fisher who took over Michigan in 1989 when Bill Frieder took the Arizona State coaching job before the NCAA Tournament. He also advanced to the National Championship game in 1992 and 1993 before leaving Michigan in 1997 amid scandal. He is currently the coach of San Diego State.

In 1943, both Texas and DePaul advanced to the Final Four with Rookie coaches. DePaul coach Ray Meyer was coaching in his first season while Texas coach H.C. "Bully" Gilstrap was coaching in his first season. However, both teams lost in the semifinals and they did not start playing third place games until 1946.

So far, no rookie coaches have ever faced each other in the final four. I will have to do further research to see if rookie coaches ever faced each other in other rounds of the tournament.

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