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Pat Summitt ends career as best college hoops coach ever

Apr 19, 2012, 9:27 PM EDT

After 38 years on the Tennessee sideline, Pat Summitt’s coaching career came to an end Thursday. The legendary women’s college basketball coach – and the all-time wins leader at any level, men or women – was chipper, cracking jokes and seemed content with her decision.

When you’ve had a run like hers, it’s probably easier than most.

“It was really a great ride for me,” Summitt said. “It has been a privilege to make an impact on the lives of 161 women who have worn orange. I am so proud of them the Lady Vols student athletes and the honor to see them graduate and become successful young women.”

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It was the proper capstone to a Hall of Fame career, one in which Summitt will still be around the Lady Vols program as head coach emeritus. Some off-court potential remains for Summitt, but this was it.

So. Here’s the question: Is she the best coach in college basketball history?

Take a look at these ridiculous numbers:

  • Record: 1,098-208 (84.1 win %)
  • Eight national titles
  • 18 Final Fours
  • 32 SEC regular-season and tourney titles combined
  • Never missed an NCAA tournament (29 straight and 27 Sweet 16s)
  • Won 47 consecutive games over three seasons
  • Not to mention every player who stayed four years graduated

Only a few coaches can compare to that in terms of excellence. (I’m not sure any coach can match Summit’s impact on her sport.) She’s been so good, even Bob Knight and Dean Smith fall short. I’d place these four as her competition:

John Wooden

  • Record: 664-162 (80.4 win %)
  • 11 national titles
  • 12 Final Fours
  • 19 regular-season conference titles (did not have league tourney)
  • Won 88 consecutive games over four seasons

Adolph Rupp

  • Record: 876-190 (82.2 win %)
  • Four national titles (one NIT title)
  • Six Final Fours
  • 40 SEC regular-season and tourney titles combined

Mike Krzyzewski

  • Record: 927-289 (76.2 win %)
  • Four national titles
  • 11 Final Fours
  • 25 ACC regular-season and tourney titles combined

Geno Auriemma

  • Record: 804-129 (86.2 win %)
  • Seven national titles
  • 13 Final Fours
  • 37 Big East regular-season and tourney titles combined
  • Won 90 consecutive games over four seasons

Wooden has the most titles. Summitt the most wins and Final Fours. Auriemma the best win percentage, Rupp the most combined titles.  At this rate, Auriemma seems likely the surpass Summitt in titles and Final Fours, but it should be noted he’s only a year younger than Summitt.

Right now, it’s tough to argue anyone’s done more than Summitt. She’s the best in the women’s game and probably in college hoops. But check back in 10 years. We’ll see where Auriemma and Coach K end up.

But what do you think? Who’s the best college coach of all time?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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