There is little doubt, given the historical dominance of Kentucky Basketball in the Southeastern Conference, that the greatest coach in SEC basketball history would most likely be a former Wildcat.
Adolph Rupp, who wore a brown suit to every game, coached the UK basketball team from 1930 to 1972 (and may in fact have coached longer had he not been forced into retirement at the age of 70, the then mandatory retirement age for State employees in Kentucky). It was during his tenure that UK grew to be a national power, and a regular entrant, not only in the NCAA Tournament, but also in the Final Four.
Rupp's playing career was unspectacular from the standpoint of individual performance, spending most of his time as a reserve on the Kansas University basketball team from 1919 to 1923. However, during those years KU was extremely successful, and Rupp, while playing for legendary coach Phog Allen, clearly got a taste for winning, one which he carried with him from his days on the court to his days on the sidelines.
Adolph Rupp still has the 3rd most coaching wins in Men's Basketball NCAA history, with an overall 876-190 (.822) record. In addition to the National Championships noted above, Rupp guided his UK teams to the NCAA B-ball Runner-Up in 1966; and in other years took his teams to 5 "Sweet 16's"; 9 "Elite 8's"; and one "Final Four." So, 20 NCAA Tournaments overall.
But, keep in mind the NCAA tournament didn't exist throughout Rupp's career. So, he also led his teams to numerous NIT tournaments (one championship) and something called the "Helms National Championship" two years. For a number of years in the 30's and early 40's there simply was no college basketball post-season tournament. Had there been one, Rupp's teams would have been there.
Rupp's UK teams were overwhelmingly the dominant teams in the SEC during his tenure. During those 42 seasons, UK won 27 SEC regular season Championships, as well as 18 SEC Tournament title.
Rupp was also involved in professional basketball following his retirement from coaching, serving in executive management positions with two American Basketball Association franchises in the early 1970s.
Rupp was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969.
Adolph Rupp died in Lexington, Kentucky in 1977. He was 76 years old. Ironically, his death came on "Adolph Rupp Night", on which the University of Kentucky played and defeated Rupp's alma mater, Kansas University, at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. Rupp listened to the game from his hospital bed before succumbing to illness.
Naming Adolph Rupp the top all-time SEC basketball coach is not a very controversial choice. Is he the best all-time NCAA college basketball coach? That's a tougher question. Maybe. This writer says Rupp was the best ever. But, what about John Wooden?
Here's some other articles about great coaches in various sports:
- Best Coach Ever
- Best All-Time NCAA-College-Football Coach
- Best All-Time SEC-Football Coach
- Pat Summitt: Top Women's College Basketball Coach
- Best All-Time SEC-Baseball Coach
Top All-Time SEC Basketball Coach
Top All-Time SEC Basketball Coach
- 2007-2008 Kentucky Basketball
- 2006-2007 Kentucky Wildcats Basketball
- Kentucky Basketball History
- Biggest SEC Basketball Rivalry
- Best All-Time SEC Basketball Team
- Top All-Time SEC Basketball Player
- Top All-Time SEC Basketball Program
- Top SEC Basketball Fan Attendance School
- University of Kentucky Lexington Trip
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Adolph Rupp Best Ever -- No Maybe About It
Rupp is at the top of the class in the SEC, no question. But Wooden's teams from 1948-75 at UCLA put him in a class all by himself. I'd like to hear arguments …
Top all time SEC B-Ball coach Not rated yet
Without a doubt it is Adolph Rupp who is also the greatest coach of all time in the NCAA. Yes that includes John Wooden. Rupp would have done a lot more …
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