What Does Coach Of The Year Really Mean?

Jim Boeheim has never been named Coach of the Year.  Not by the NABC, the Naismith or the Associated Press.

This year, with a team in the top five and a good chance at a Big East title, he's a front-runner.

But what does it really mean?  Is Jim Boeheim a better coach in 2009-2010 than he was last year?  Or in 2003 when he won a national title? Or 2000, when he took a team led by Jason Hart to the Sweet Sixteen?  Or 1996 when he took a team with one star and a bunch of role players to the NCAA Finals?  Or 1987 when he came within a Keith Smart shot of winning a national title?

Is it because Syracuse wasn't supposed to be good?  Is that why Boeheim is such a great coach this year?  Cause the team WAS really good, you were just too dumb to realize it.  It's not their fault you suck at your job, College Basketball Expert.

I'm not trying to talk anyone out of voting for Boeheim as Coach of the Year.  I'm just trying to understand what seems like a completely arbitrary system for deciding who is the best coach in the nation.  I mean, are we just saying that the guy who has the No. 1 team in the nation is, by default, the best coach?  If not, what criteria are people using to determine this?

A lot of folks say John Calipari should get it for his work at Kentucky.  Because winning with, as Jeff Goddman notes, 4 potential Top 15 NBA Draft picks on your roster is a hard thing?  Kentucky is 26-1 right now.  Without Calipari, they go...I don't know...24-3?  Is that amazing coaching worthy of honor and accolade?  Over, say, Bob Huggins who has West Virginia at 21-6 against the 3rd-toughest schedule in the nation and not nearly as much roster talent?  Or even Boeheim, who has the Orange at 26-2 against a tougher schedule with a less-talented roster as well.

If you want to give Calipari the Recruiter Of The Year Award, by all means, have at it.  But that's not what we're talking about.  We're talking about who has done the best job of coaching his select group of players so that the result is far better than had he not been there to do so.

Is It Kansas State's Frank Martin?  Or is he getting consideration just because KSU isn't a traditional power?

BYU's Dave Rose?  He's done a great job leading them to 24-3 but have you seen their SOS (132nd)?

Pitt's Jamie Dixon?  The Panthers slid off the map at the beginning of the year only to rebound and work their way back up to the Top 15.  I think there's a case to be made that there's some quality coaching involved there.

As for Boeheim, on paper it makes a lot of sense.  SU starts the year unranked and flirts with No. 1 all year long.  But again, did SU deserve to start the year unranked?  Isn't that more a reflection on how poorly they were gauged than saying "Boeheim took a ragtag group of misfits and molded them into winners?"  With the exception of Wes & Triche, all of these guys were known quantities.  It's not like we didn't know they were good players.  They season has certainly played out better than even SU fans expected but how much of that is opinion and how much is fact?

I know I've somehow made this article about why Jim Boeheim SHOULDN'T be coach of the year, but that wasn't my point.  I just want someone to explain the system to me.  What criteria decide how good of a coaching job someone does and should be rewarded for it.  Cause to me it seems like it's like the Heisman voting.  We just change our criteria every year to fit whatever person we have in mind.  This year its about who wins the most, next year its about who makes the biggest leap and the year after that its about who does the most with the least.

I hope Jim wins a Coach of the Year Award if for no other reason than to collect one more piece of hardware for his many years of nationally-unappreciated service.  As an added bonus, it would be nice if it was truly justified.

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