Caution, Hot Take: Will Anyone Win More Games Than Coach K?



Say what you want about the Duke Blue Devils, slapping the floor like they are having seizure or anything else about the polarizing basketball program in Durham. None of it would have been possible without Mike Krzyzewski.

Not the historical runs, certainly not the legacy that’s currently in place and in no way would Duke be the most beloved team by some and the most hated program this side of Kentucky by others if it weren’t for Coach K being all that and a bag of BBQ potato chips.

With that being said, though, hot takes are needed in situations like these. Scalding hot — as in the opposite of mild — Skip Bayless like takes. I mean, we had days worth of reading, watching and listening to WWE like promos cut on behalf of the greatness that is Coach K, with some light, sprinkled in fun hatred in between, but there’s still a huge question left to be had.

Who, if anyone, will surpass Coach K on the all-time wins list in college hoops?

Am I diminishing Corporate Krzyzewski’s achievements by already looking ahead? You best your sweet rear I am. Still, this is what sports writing/blogging/whatever the hell it is that I do, is all about. Seriously, what fun would Coach K reaching 1,000 wins be without some totally unnecessary look at something that can’t even happen until I am dead? Really, it is the greatest benefit I can have as a sports scribbler. I am about to make predictions that can’t possibly be proven until the game of college basketball ceases to exist. So, yeah, chew on that ya dirty mother truckers.

I’m not a hack, though. Well, not in the truest sense of the term. I’m just a low-level, albeit good looking, blogger. So for you, since we are friends, I will take a relatively realistic approach to the question if anyone will ever surpass the main man in charge of all things Dick Vitale loin inspiring. Also, let’s please note that this only applies to Division I coaches.

First thing is first. Coach K still has a few good years left in him. If he stays healthy, a thing even anti-Duke people should hope for, Uncle Mike can probably coach at least another three years.

So, far the sake of round numbers let’s throw another 100 wins on top of his current 1,000 win total, which gives him 1,100 wins in this fictional version of his retirement.

Second, let’s eliminate grumpy Uncle Jim Boeheim from this discussions as well. Yes, he is mathematically the closest, but he also happens to be old and is getting to the point of being so old that his get-off-my-lawn shtick is less endearing.


Who does that leave us with?

Bob Huggins is nearing the 750-win mark for his career, but he isn’t too short in the tooth. Neither is Roy Williams. The two of them are both eliminated from contention because Father Time is a cruel mistress.

Next up are Bo Ryan and Rick Pitino, each around the 700 mark. That’s not too bad, but again, neither are exactly young whippersnappers. We better keep moving along. Wait. What’s that? There’s no other active coaches with as many (Division I only) victories? None above 600?

You’re saying the rest of them in that mark are either dead, retired or coaching in a division of college basketball not recognized as being Division I? Oh..Rick Barnes does not count. There is one more, though. One college basketball coach remaining.

Guess who is floating just above the 600-win mark? Yup. That guy. The other polarizing coach who coaches the other super polarizing program. In the business we call that man John Calipari, who is currently 616 wins into his career.

Cal is only 55. In college basketball coaching years that makes him about 45 in any other walk of life. The real question going forward for him will be the allure of the NBA and the drive to continue coaching kids at the college level. Basically, how many years left does Cal have at the college level?

Let’s pretend for the sake of round numbers (because I’m bad at the maths) he sticks around for another 15, leaving him coaching in the college ranks until he is an even 70, which would also have him coaching to the same age of the fictional retirement I gave Coach K.

In John Calipari’s entire career he wins games at a staggering .777 percent of the time. That’s an entire .013 percentile quicker than Coach K.

However, it should also be noted that by the time Coach K is (fictionally retired) at 70 he would have coached a total of 43 years of major college basketball to just 38 for Calipari. Alas, let’s crunch some numbers.

If Cal continues to win at a .777 rate over the next 15 years, without factoring in postseason tournaments (or weird scheduling) based off a flat, very lowly estimated 30 game schedule that would give him 349.65 wins for the rest of his career. Again, that’s not counting postseason games or even if more games are added to a roughly estimated 30 game schedule (worth noting most of the time Calipari teams are playing above 30 games a season). Regardless, that would leave Cal short of Coach K, with him “only” retiring with 966-ish wins.

However, what if we were to just take the most recent winning percentage of Coach Cal while at Kentucky? Then the world’s foremost recruiter wins at an astonishing .822 percent of the time. Again, math crunch time, with the same base of 30 games being used over 15 more years, would leave him winning an additional 369.9 more games after his career is over.

Now, that leaves Cal with an all-time record of 985 wins without factoring in any postseason wins or seasons with more than 30 games — which makes it a safe assumption over those 15 more years he would manage to win a few more games, but unlikely another 115.

Alas, putting my likely iffy-at-best math to the side it will be difficult for another human to reach the peaks of Coach K. Love him or hate him, what he has done is spectacular. I will warn you all now in advance, though.

Whatever Mike Krzyzewski’s final win/loss record ends up being his most wins all-time record will eventually be broken. Probably not by Cal. Hell, probably not by a coach currently leading the unpaid labor of the world to play on the hardwood today. But someday, when universities go for more money and more games get added to the schedule, and a coach gets hired younger, and when Hulkamania runs wild on you, it will happen.

Then again, if I’m wrong. Well, tell me about it — when the game of basketball ceases to exist.

Hooray, hot takes!