In case you missed it, ESPN.com put together a panel of experts to rank the top D-I coaches and Fran McCaffery came in at No. 33. Here's the blurb on Our Man Fran:
It's safe to say 2013-14 hurt McCaffery with the panel. He would almost certainly have ranked higher had the Hawkeyes maintained their top-10 early-season trajectory, when they were one of the best and most thrilling offensive teams in the country, and not, you know, totally collapsed down the stretch. That Iowa ended the regular season 20-11 (9-9) (the exact same record, with the exact same Big Ten tourney seeding and matchups, as 2012-13) was hilarious and sad at the same time. But McCaffery's overall success in Iowa City shouldn't be ignored: Next season he'll have just as much talent at his disposal.
One point of contention and a caveat here. First: 2014 hurt McCaffery. 2013 was great! But yes, the collapse was far less than ideal. I'm still learning to love basketball again. WHY DID YOU HURTPUNCH US IN THE HEART ZONE.
Secondly, this is not hard data. It is likely accurate but it is subjective. So it's totally fine to disagree, especially on the minutiae. A difference of three or four spots here or there is not that big of a deal, especially once you get past, like, the top five.
Now, 33rd out of 350+ D-I schools is really good! That's 90th percentile type stuff. We like that. But... of course Fran's a better program manager than some guy in one of the rinky-dinkier conferences. Iowa's not competing against them. Iowa's in the Big Ten, and in the best conference in the nation. And there, Fran's got some work to do.
There are more Big Ten coaches listed already. Matt Painter and Tom Crean couldn't crack the Top 50, Richard Pitino of Minnesota snuck in at No. 49 and Tim Miles jumps in at No. 32. Yes, Miles is one spot ahead of McCaffery. That's a virtual tie, and much more indicative of their similarities in success than any difference.
ESPN's only up to No. 23 on their list, which means we're still likely to hear from Thad Matta, John Beilein, Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan—all of whom are probably going to be way up there on the list. Like, they've all got a legitimate case for Top 10 status.
So that effectively puts McCaffery in sixth place in the conference (or tied for fifth if you want to take issue with the Miles thing, which, fine). Again: that's halfway up the ladder in the nation's best conference. But it's still only halfway.
And as for the notion that McCaffery will have "just as much talent" to work with next year, that is debatable. Certainly Iowa should be challenging for another 20-win, .500-B1G season—particularly if the luck levels return to normal. But look at the depth chart for next year—it's sort of hard to tell where the points come from. Great role players, not a lot of star power.
But! If Fran's really the 33rd-best coach in the nation, he should be able to do some damage with that lineup. Right?
Last, ha ha ha ha ha [REDACTED] is behind McCaffery. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.