Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The greatest coaches never to win it all

Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]

Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]

As foregone conclusions go, some things are approaching the death-and-taxes stratosphere: summer humidity in Florida, a Kardashian seeking attention, and Mike Martin coming up short in Omaha.

FSU's 7-4 loss Wednesday to LSU in the losers bracket of the College World Series left Martin 0-for-16 in the CWS in his 38 seasons as 'Noles coach. As a result, Martin -- who rivals Bobby Bowden as the folksiest and most endearing presence in FSU athletics history -- remains entrenched in that paradoxical pantheon of legendary coaches or managers who never have won the big one.

Call it an elite, highly respected group no one really wants to join. Some earned titles as players, and others captured championships or gold medals as assistants, but all remain ring-less in a head coach (or managerial) capacity. They are, by definition, the greatest coaches never to win it all.

Dusty Baker

AP photo

With 1,809 career regular season wins and counting as a manager, Baker is 16th on Major League Baseball's career victories chart. What's more, he has led four teams to the postseason including the 2002 Giants, who made the World Series. He might never have made this list had it not been for that Bartman dude at Wrigley Field in 2003, when Baker had the Cubs within a victory of the National League pennant. (We kid, we're not blaming Bartman.)

Frank Beamer

AP photo

Of the 10 winningest major college coaches ever, Beamer (238-121-1 in 29 seasons at Virginia Tech) is the only one without a national title. Not that it really tarnishes his reputation; Beamer transformed a middling independent program into a Power Five force that played for a BCS national title (in 2000). Upon retiring at the end of the 2015 season, Beamer had led the Hokies to 23 consecutive bowl appearances, a stretch that included eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories.

Bud Grant

Times files

Most aren't aware Grant -- arguably the most stoic figure ever to occupy an NFL sideline -- won four Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League before embarking on his legendary tenure with the Minnesota Vikings (161-99-5). Still, Grey Cups don't qualify as pro football holy grails. The 17th-winningest coach in NFL history, Grant is the first coach to lead a team to four Super Bowls, coming up well short each time. The Vikes lost those four Super Bowls by an average of 15.3 points.

Mike Martin

AP photo

A pillar of consistency with a drawl, Martin has led the 'Noles to 38 consecutive NCAA regional appearances. With 1,944 career wins, he needs only 32 more to become the winningest college baseball coach of all time. If he never wins a national title, he seems the sort who won't allow that unfulfilled goal to gnaw at his psyche. Still, 16 trips and no titles? You'd think the 'Noles would've fluked their way to at least one championship.

Don Nelson

AP photo

Think about this: The winningest coach in NBA history (1,335 victories) has fewer title rings as a coach than Erik Spoelstra or Paul Westhead. Nelson won a ton of titles as a player with the Celtics in the 1960s and '70s, but never even reached the NBA finals in parts of 31 seasons as a head coach.

Bo Schembechler

AP photo

In terms of major college football, only Joe Paterno and Tom Osborne reached the 200-win milestone in fewer games than Schembechler (234-65-8). In his 20 seasons as Michigan coach, the Wolverines won or shared 13 Big Ten titles, and finished ranked in the top 10 of both major polls (AP and UPI) 16 times. Yet he never won the big one, which probably still elicits grins from Buckeyes fans abroad.

Marty Schottenheimer

AP photo

The sixth-winningest coach in NFL history (200-126-1), Schottenheimer holds the distinction (or notoriety) of having the most wins of any NFL coach never to reach a Super Bowl. His excruciatingly close calls (see 1986 and '87 Cleveland Browns) overshadow the fact this guy possessed some serious coaching chops. In 20-plus NFL seasons, Schottenheimer had only two sub-.500 teams.

Jerry Sloan

AP photo

While the fact Sloan (1,221 career wins) never won a title is unfortunate, the fact he never even won an NBA Coach of the Year award is a travesty. The third-winningest coach in league history, Sloan had the tough luck of coaching in the Michael Jordan era. He led the Utah Jazz to the 1997 and '98 NBA Finals, losing to you-know-who both times.

C. Vivian Stringer

AP photo

With 980 career victories, Stringer, Rutgers' women's coach the last 22 seasons, ranks sixth on the career Division I basketball coaching list -- men or women. She's the first women's coach to lead three different teams (Cheyney State, Iowa, Rutgers) to the Final Four, but finds herself grinding in one of the few prominent American sports in which parity hasn't yet prevailed (see UConn).

Barry Trotz

Getty Images

At 713 career victories, Trotz, who helped build the Nashville Predators from scratch and coached the franchise for its first 15 years, ranks sixth on the NHL's all-time wins list. Yet none of his teams have ever reached a conference final. He's taking well-deserved heat in Washington, where the Capitals finished with the most wins (55) in the regular season this past year, but were bounced by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins in the second round.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

The greatest coaches never to win it all 06/22/17 [Last modified: Thursday, June 22, 2017 11:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  3. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  4. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  5. Lightning confused by NHL's slashing crackdown

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Victor Hedman said the joke in the Lightning locker room before Friday's exhibition game was that the over/under on slashing penalties would be six.

    "It was the over again," Hedman quipped.

    Wing Ryan Callahan, left,  pursues the Predators’ Colton Sissons, being careful how he uses his stick given the crackdown on slashing in the preseason. “It’s hard to defend when you’re so used to doing something for so long and now it’s a penalty,” Callahan says.