At some universities, the two most high profile people on campus rarely interact: The football and men’s basketball head coaches.
Despite being intertwined at the top of their school’s athletic department, the leaders of the gridiron and hoops’ programs can often go days or weeks without crossing paths. They usually have offices in different buildings and stay bunkered in their team’s facilities without leaving. When they need something from the outside world, they can send someone to go get it.
The time when the football and men’s basketball coaches see each other the most is when one of them tries to use the other’s team to benefit his. Recruiting high school prospects is a year-round activity. When recruits come to visit, the coaches want to show them their campus at its best; this usually happens at football and men’s basketball games. So you’ll usually see a football coach bringing a recruit to a basketball game, or a basketball coach bringing a recruit to a football contest.
Which school’s coaches can help each other the most?
Earlier, we ranked the most successful football and men’s basketball programs of the 21st century. Now, we’re ranking the 10 schools that have the best combination of coaches in football and men’s basketball.
The ranking is based on current status, and while a coach’s past achievements are obviously taken into account, if it was achieved a while ago and nothing close has happened since, it doesn’t mean much to this ranking. If a coach achieved something at a school other than the one he’s currently at, he’s still given credit, but timeliness is weighed.
10. Michigan—Brady Hoke (football) and John Beilein (men’s basketball)
Highlights: National championship game appearance (Beilein), two Big Ten titles (Beilein), Sugar Bowl victory (Hoke)
Many likely expected Michigan’s Brady Hoke-John Beilein tandem to rank higher on this list, but unlike the duos ranked No. 1 to No. 9, the Wolverines have one coach trending upward and one coach trending downward.
John Beilein is one of the country’s best college basketball coaches. He led Michigan to the national title game in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014. He built a winner at West Virginia, too, propelling the Mountaineers to the Elite Eight 2005.
Brady Hoke is a question mark, though, and that’s why Michigan’s duo checks in at No. 10. His teams have gotten worse each season:
2011: 11-2, Sugar Bowl win
2012: 8-5, Outback Bowl loss
2013: 7-6, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl loss
Hoke has been bringing top talent to Ann Arbor, though, so if he can turn great recruiting classes into great seasons, Michigan’s pair will soon rank higher.
Next: No. 9 - Oregon >>>
9. Oregon—Mark Helfrich (football) and Dana Altman (men’s basketball)
Highlights: Sweet 16 (Altman), 11-win season (Helfrich)
If it was possible to buy stock in a coaching duo, Oregon’s combination might be Apple in 1980.
Altman has been the coach of the Ducks’ men’s basketball program for four seasons, while Helfrich has been leading Oregon’s football team for only one year.
So far, Altman has led Oregon to two NCAA Tournaments while Helfrich guided the Ducks to an 11-win season in 2013-14.
The Ducks football program will continue to be elite with the influence of Nike—Oregon has won at least 10 games every year since 2008—and the basketball program seems to be on the rise. The Ducks’ basketball arena, which debuted in 2010, is a state of the art facility and top recruits are starting to flock to Eugene.
Next: No. 8 - Wisconsin >>>
8. Wisconsin—Gary Andersen (football) and Bo Ryan (men’s basketball)
Highlights: Final Four (Ryan), conference championship (Andersen)
The duo in Madison has only been together for one season, but if they produce going forward at the rate they did in 2013-14, they’ll become of the nation’s best.
Gary Andersen, in his first year at the helm of the Wisconsin football program, led the Badgers to a 9-4 season.
Bo Ryan, in his 13th year as the Badgers’ men’s basketball coach, propelled Wisconsin to his first Final Four.
Wisconsin ranked No. 5 in our ranking of the 25 most successful schools of the 21st century in football and men’s basketball, combined. Much of that success was achieved with Ryan but without Andersen. If the Badgers’ football coach can continue to win nine-10 games, Madison will proceed to be home to one of the nation’s best dual-sport schools.
7. Florida State—Jimbo Fisher (football) and Leonard Hamilton (men’s basketball)
Highlights: National championship (Fisher), ACC Tournament title (Hamilton)
Leonard Hamilton has been the coach of the Florida State men’s basketball team since 2002, so the people in Tallahassee likely know what they’re going to get from their hoops’ squad each season: An NCAA Tournament contender that will occasionally make a semi-deep run.
Hamilton has led Florida State to four NCAA Tournaments, but has won an average of 22 games each season since 2005. He consistently has the Seminoles in contention come March.
Jimbo Fisher has only been the head man of the Seminoles’ football program for four seasons, but if he can consistently do going forward what he’s already done, this duo will soar.
Florida State won a national title on the gridiron this past season and has won 45 games over the last four seasons.
The Seminoles will almost assuredly be ACC favorites in football each season Fisher is coaching, but how will Florida State’s men’s basketball team fare with the newly shaped ACC?
Next: No. 6 - Oklahoma >>>
6. Oklahoma—Bob Stoops (football) and Lon Kruger (men’s basketball)
Highlights: National championship (Stoops), Eight Big 12 championships (Stoops), Four-time conference coach of the year (Kruger)
All Bob Stoops has done during his time at Oklahoma is win. The Sooners are the most successful program of the BCS era, according to our data compiling.
Lon Kruger is similar to his colleague. He is the only coach in the history of college basketball to lead five different schools—Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, Oklahoma—to the NCAA Tournament.
Each coach had a pretty solid 2013-14, too. Stoops propelled Oklahoma to a surprising Sugar Bowl victory against Alabama, while Kruger led the Sooners to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament, winning double-digit Big 12 games for the second straight year, too.
Stoops has built the Sooners’ football program into a consistent churner of success that spits out 10-win seasons and conference championships nearly every year.
Can Kruger take Oklahoma to the next level? The Sooners were an elite hoops’ program in the early 2000s, making the Final four in 2002 and the Elite Eight in 2003.
Next: No. 5 - Baylor >>>
5. Baylor—Art Briles (football) and Scott Drew (men’s basketball)
Highlights: Big 12 championship (Briles), two Elite Eights (Drew), Sweet 16 (Drew)
Not many athletic programs had a better 2013-14 than Baylor did. Art Briles led Baylor to a Big 12 championship and BCS game appearance, while Drew helped the Bears march to the Sweet 16.
Would the Briles-Drew duo be the one you’d take out of all the Big 12 combinations? It appears they would be the choice. (You could make a good argument for Oklahoma’s, too, which checked in at No. 6)
Briles has won 29 games over the past three years, while Drew has led Baylor to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight three times since 2010.
This is a tandem that could rise, too. Baylor football will debut a sparkling new football stadium this fall, while the men’s basketball program continues to be a top choice for elite recruits.
Next: No. 4 - Arizona >>>
4. Arizona—Rich Rodriguez (football) and Sean Miller (men’s basketball)
Highlights: Four Big East championships (Rodriguez), two Pac-12 championships (Miller)
Neither coach has had a team truly break through and become a serious contender for a national championship, but both Sean Miller and Rich Rodriguez have their programs on the rise.
Miller has the Wildcats’ hoops’ program in elite status, being a No. 1 seed in this past season’s NCAA Tournament, while Rodriguez, who turned West Virginia into a power before failing at Michigan, has won eight games in each of his seasons in Tucson.
Both coaches are still relatively young, too. Miller is 45 while Rodriguez is 51.
In five years, could the Arizona duo be No. 1 or No. 2 on this ranking? It wouldn’t be surprising.
Arizona recently extended the contracts of both Miller and Rodriguez, so they both should be Wildcats for a while.
Next:No. 3 - Duke >>>
3. Duke—David Cutcliffe (football) and Mike Krzyzewski (men’s basketball)
Highlights: Four national championships (Krzyzewski), 11 Final Fours (Krzyzewski), ACC Championship Game appearance (Cutcliffe)
Mike Krzyzewski has been the coach of the Duke men’s basketball program since 1980. During that time period, the Blue Devils’ football team never won more than eight games. Until last season, that is.
David Cutcliffe led Duke to a 10-4 season in 2013, highlighted by an ACC Coastal Division title and a Chick-fil-A Bowl appearance.
“I think the job coach Cutcliffe and the staff have done—along with teaming up with our athletic director Kevin White and our school, our school our department and our football program—they've all made a commitment to excellence in our football program and it has shown good signs,” Krzyzewski said.
There are surely football coaches with more sustained success than Cutcliffe—many, in fact—but due to Coach K being, by far, the nation’s No. 1 college basketball coach, Duke is able to check in at No. 3 on this ranking.
2. Michigan State—Mark Dantonio (football) and Tom Izzo (men’s basketball)
Highlights: National championship (Izzo), six Final Fours (Izzo), two Big Ten championships (Dantonio), Rose Bowl victory (Dantonio)
This past December, Tom Izzo loaded his team onto a bus. The destination: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Izzo’s squad was to watch the Michigan State football team play Ohio State for the Big Ten championship.
"I told our guys, 'If you want to win a championship, you got to learn how to. So let's go down there and see if our football guys can show us the way," Izzo told the Big Ten Network prior to Michigan State's game against the Buckeyes.
Michigan State beat Ohio State, earning a trip to the Rose Bowl, and Izzo’s team stayed to watch it all, including the post-game ceremony during which confetti poured and trophies were raised.
This past March, the Michigan State men’s basketball team followed in the footsteps of their football program, winning the Big Ten Tournament.
When Dantontio first took over the Spartans’ football program in 2007, the men’s basketball program was something he could look to for inspiration, for a guideline on how to be successful. Now that goes both ways, as the football and men’s basketball programs in East Lansing, Mich. are two of college’s best.
Next: No. 1 - Ohio State >>>
1. Ohio State—Urban Meyer (football) and Thad Matta (Men’s basketball)
Highlights: Two national championships (Meyer), two Final Fours (Matta), multiple top-five recruiting classes in each sport
If you were an athletic director for a newly developed university, and you could pluck a football/men’s basketball coaching duo from any school, you’d be smart to go with the combination in Columbus: Urban Meyer and Thad Matta.
Meyer won two national championships at Florida and has started his Buckeye career 24-2. Matta has taken Ohio State to two Final Fours and saw his run of four-straight Sweet 16 appearances end this past March.
The rankings at 247Sports.com say that Meyer has brought a top-five recruiting class to Columbus in each of the past three seasons. Matta consistently snags elite talent, highlighted by players such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas.
Both coaches have achieved great success, success that seems to overflow into their respective programs.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Matta said of Meyer.
Meyer has long been an admirer of Matta’s program.
Together, they form the nation’s best football-men’s basketball coaching duo.