This is the latest in Stadium’s “Conference Chain of Command” series in which we polled a handful of veteran coaches in every league to determine the best JOBS in each league, all the way down to the ones that are the most difficult.
Here are the eight categories that were utilized to determine the overall rankings.
- Tradition – The history of the program
- Media Exposure – Games on national television
- Game Atmosphere – Includes attendance
- Budget/Resources – Includes coaches’ salaries, recruiting budget, travel budget, private planes, cost of attendance, etc.
- Buy Games – Programs who are bought the fewest number of times will rank first
- Geographical Recruiting Base – Proximity to players
- Facilities – Not just the arena, but also practice facilities, weight room, locker rooms, etc.
- Selling Pros – Being able to sell not only NBA players, but also those who play overseas
This is how polling in the Patriot League shook out among coaches who voted, with one being the best and 10 being the worst:
1. BUCKNELL (71) – The Bison have gone to the NCAA tournament eight times, and also have a first-round upset over Kansas in 2005. Pat Flannery had success, going twice in 2005 and ’06, Dave Paulen went twice in 2011 and ’13 and current coach Nathan Davis went twice in 2017 and ’18. Bucknell ranks first in five of the eight categories.
Where they win: “History and finances. They support it, and they consistently win.” – Patriot League head coach
The knock: “There’s nothing in Lewisburg … except for a prison.” – Patriot League assistant
T2. HOLY CROSS (57) – The program had plenty of tradition back in the 1940’s and ’50s with guys like Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn. The Crusaders went into the Patriot League in 1991 and went to the NCAA tourney in ’93 under George Blaney. Ralph Willard went in 2001, ’02, ’03 and ’07, but the program has been mediocre for the past decade or so. Holy Cross ranks second in history, third in game atmosphere and selling pros, and in the middle of the league in everything else.
Where they win: “Brand-new facility is phenomenal, the history, and [it’s] one of the best academic schools in the league.” – Patriot league assistant
The knock: “It’s tough to get kids into school, Worcester isn’t the best city and there are still high expectations from the old, old days.” – Patriot League assistant
T2. BOSTON UNIVERSITY (57) – Rick Pitino spent five years as thee head coach in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, going to the NCAA tourney in 1983. Mike Jarvis went in 1988 and ’90, Dennis Wolff went in 1997 and 2002, and Pat Chambers in 2011. The program went from the America East to the Patriot in 2013, and hasn’t been able to go back to the tourney since the move. Joe Jones’ biggest advantage is its recruiting base, which ranks first in the league.
Where they win: “Great location right in the city, and they support the program financially. Also extremely diverse.” – Patriot League head coach
The knock: “It’s not as academic as the other programs in the league, so that can hurt them in recruiting. There’s also no campus — which can hurt with a lot of kids.” – Patriot League assistant
4. NAVY (55) – Paul Evans took Navy to the NCAA Tournament back in 1985 and ’86 with David Robinson leading the way, and Don DeVoe went in 1994, ’97 and ’98, but the Midshipmen haven’t been in the last two decades. Navy ranks second in game atmosphere, budget and facilities.
Where they win: “Academics, support and the prep school. They can put a bunch of kids in the prep school and it’s a low-risk, high-reward thing for them.” – Patriot League assistant
The knock: “It’s the Navy. You have to really want it. Only a certain amount of kids want to go into the service.” – Patriot League assistant
5. LEHIGH (52) – The Mountain Hawks are best known for producing C.J. McCollum and also for knocking Duke off in the NCAA tourney in 2012. Lehigh also went to the NCAA tourney in 1985 under Tom Schneider, ’88 under Fran McCaffery, 2004 under Billy Taylor and twice with current coach Brett Reed — 2010 and ’12. Lehigh ranks first in selling pros, second in TV exposure, and third in tradition, but towards the bottom in budget/resources.
Where they win: “C.J. McCollum, location is good. You can get to New York City, New Jersey and Philly easy, and the recent success helps.” – Patriot League assistant
The knock: “They don’t have as much support as you’d think. The resources aren’t great and the students don’t come out despite the success. The arena is on a separate campus over a mountain so that makes it tougher for students to go.” – Patriot League assistant
6. AMERICAN (40) – The Eagles have gone to thee NCAA tourney three times: in 2008 and ’09 under Jeff Jones and in 2014 under current coach Mike Brennan. American ranks in the top half of the league in just two of the eight categories: recruiting base and budget/resources.
Where they win: “Location and recent history. You’re around a ton of players in the area.” – Patriot League assistant
The knock: “No one goes to the arena. It’s consistently empty.” – Patriot League assistant
7. LAFAYETTE (34) – Fran O’Hanlon has been the head coach since 1995 and went to the NCAA tourney three times — in 1999, 2000 and ’15. The Leopards rank last in the league in budget, ninth in facilities and eighth in TV exposure.
Where they win: “The location and academics. It’s in an area where there are plenty of players.” – Patriot League assistant
The knock: “They don’t really care about basketball or sports overall. Look at all the programs recently, and none have them have really won.” – Patriot League assistant
8. ARMY (32) – Two of the best coaches of all-time roamed the sidelines at Army: Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski. However, the Black Knights still haven’t gone to the NCAA Tournament. The two categories in which Army ranks in the top half of the league are facilities and buy games.
Where they win: “It’s a different deal. They have to sell other things – like leadership, the experiences. They can also sell a chance to make history, getting to the tourney for the first time.” – Patriot league assistant
The knock: “It’s a military school. Kids have other responsibilities, so it’s not just about basketball.” – Patriot league head coach
9. LOYOLA (29) – The Greyhounds went to the NCAA tourney in 1994 under the late Skip Prosser and in 2012 under Jimmy Patsos. Loyola was in the MAAC from 1989 to 2013 before moving into the Patriot league. The lone category in which Loyola ranks in the top half of the league is recruiting base.
Where they win: “Location and some of the things you can do academically, you can’t do at the other spots in the league.” – Patriot League assistant
The knock: “Lack of tradition. They just haven’t won, especially since they got into the Patriot league.” – Patriot League head coach
10. COLGATE (13) – The Raiders have been to the NCAA tourney three times: 1995, ’96 and 2019. They went in 1995 and ’96 with former NBA big man Adonal Foyle, and they had a hiatus before Matt Langel took them last season. Langel’s accomplishment is extremely impressive since Colgate ranks dead-last overall and at the bottom in five of the eight categories.
Where they win: “It’s a college town, and you can tell there’s a real sense of community.” – Patriot League assistant
The knock: “Location. You ever been to Hamilton?” – Patriot League head coach