Is There a More Winning NCAA Coach Than UCLA's John Wooden? Well, Yes

by Ed Bagley - Date: 2008-06-14 - Word Count: 531 Share This!

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Any discussion of the NCAA's winningest coach naturally begins with UCLA's legendary basketball guru John Wooden. Wooden was far more than the best teacher of basketball to ever walk onto a court, he was also revered as an expert on teaching and winning in the game of life.

Known as the "Wizard of Westwood", Wooden won 665 games in 27 seasons at UCLA and 10 NCAA titles during this last 12 years, including 7 straight from 1967 to 1973. He also had an 88-game winning streak and two undefeated, back-to-back national championship teams.

Wooden's UCLA record during his 10 National Championship years was 291-10 (not a misprint); it rounds to a 97% winning percentage and includes no less than 4 perfect 30-0 seasons. In short, there is Wooden and everyone else when it comes to winning basketball games and national titles.

Without really thinking about it, I would say that no one could top Wooden as the winningest coach in NCAA history.

Then a brief notice buried deep inside the sports section of my daily newspaper reminded me of this guy from Arkansas named John McDonnell. I knew McDonnell had won a bunch of NCAA titles as coach of the Arkansas cross-country and track programs.

I had forgotten about McDonnell and Arkansas because running does not get much press in America. I did some research and was surprised to find out that McDonnell's Arkansas teams have:

1) Won 42 (yes, 42!) NCAA championships since 1984, 11 in cross-country, 19 in indoor track and 12 in outdoor track. Arkansas was so dominate in running that only 24 other NCAA titles in the three sports combined have been won by other schools in the last 24 years. McDonnell's 42 national championships are more than any other coach in any sport in the history of college athletics.

2) Won 5 national triple crowns (titles in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track in the same year), including 3 straight triple crowns from 1991 to 1994.

3) Won at least one national championship in cross-country, indoor track or outdoor track in 21 of the past 22 years.

4) Won 20 SEC triple crowns since 1982, including 8 straight between 1987 and 1995. Imagine winning 24 straight SEC titles during an 8-year period. Won a total of 83 conference championships.

5) Won 12 consecutive NCAA indoor track championships from 1984 to 1995, the longest string of national titles by any school in any sport in collegiate history.

6) Won 33 consecutive league and 16 consecutive SEC cross-country championships from 1974 to 2006.

John McDonnell's track teams are known for their balanced scoring, and McDonnell credits recruiting as very important to his success. "Athletes won't just show up if they aren't contacted and recruited," he says.

McDonnell created an entire pedigree of champions in American running, coaching 179 track All-Americans, 54 individual national champions and 23 Olympians in 6 different Olympic games, including gold, silver and bronze medalists.

McDonnell will step down as Arkansas' coach after 35 seasons when the outdoor track season ends this year. The 69-year-old coach was born in Ireland and became a United States citizen after graduating in 1969 from Louisiana-Lafayette, where he was a 6-time All American scholarship athlete in cross-country and track.

Related Tags: ucla, ncaa, win, sec, cross-country, track, arkansas, winningest coach, john wooden, john mcdonnell

Read my additional NCAA coverage on the "First 2 Rounds in 2008 NCAA Tournament Produce 1 Major Upset in Every 6 Games" and "The Final 4 for the 2008 NCAA Tournament: North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA and Kansas" plus my 4 basketball articles on last year's 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament detailing Florida's National Championship run.Find my Blog at:http://www.edbagleyblog.com Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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