Andy Reid and the 25 best coaches who haven’t won a championship

Five years ago, Sporting News ranked the 25 best coaches without a championship across the six major North American sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, college football, college basketball).

We revisit that list with a few interesting facts. Joe Maddon and Barry Trotz won championships, getting themselves off our list. Ten of those coaches are no longer active, either fired or retired having failed to get off the schneid.

One name sticks out: Andy Reid. The Chiefs coach can win his first championship as a head coach when Kansas City meets San Francisco in Super Bowl 54 on Feb. 2. Reid is not the only Super Bowl coach on our 2020 edition. San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan also made the top 25.  

One of those two will come off this list Super Bowl Sunday. The other will remain stuck in that coaching purgatory that only a championship can fix.  

Baldelli was well-liked as a player, and he made a strong first impression with a 101-season with the Twins. Minnesota had five pitchers with 10 or more wins and five hitters with 30 or more homers. At 38, he is the youngest manager to win AL Manager of the Year and part of a new wave of managers that should battle it out in the American League for years to come.

This is an admittedly aggressive ranking given it has been just one season, but Day has proven he’s up to the job of leading a top-five college football program. He enhanced the offensive scheme for the Buckeyes as an assistant coach, and that growth continued in his first full season as a head coach. Day is 16-1, recruiting has not dropped off and Ohio State should learn from the heart-breaking Playoff loss to Clemson. Day, 40, could have success in either college or the pros.

Boone made the transition from the booth to the dugout, and he’s made the Yankees contenders again with back-to-back seasons with 100 or more victories. New York stopped short in the ALCS last season, but Boone has the franchise back on trek to make a World Series appearance – and it should happen sooner rather than later given the talent he has to work with. Not everybody can handle this job. Boone has been a pleasant surprise in the Bronx.

Kruger, 67, is still going strong in his ninth season with the Sooners. He’s been to the Sweet 16 or better with four different schools in a coaching career that extends all the way back to 1982-83. The recent Oklahoma teams have featured star players such as Buddy Hield and Trae Young, and Kruger is looking to get back to the Final Four for the third time.

Cash helped flip Tampa Bay’s fortunes with back-to-back seasons of 90 wins or more. The Rays took the Astros to five games in the ALDS last season and should stay competitive in the tough AL East Division. Cash’s ability to keep this franchise playing above its head the last five seasons has been impressive to watch.

Mullen has gone from a coach who did more with less at Mississippi State to one that has put Florida back in the College Football Playoff hunt with back-to-back New Year’s Day Six bowl victories. Mullen continues to be a quarterback guru at the college level, and that was apparent with Kyle Trask this season. The next challenge is returning Florida to the national championship heights reached by Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

McVay became the most fashionable coach to copycat in the NFL, and he’s put together a 33-15 record over three seasons with the Rams. McVay, 34, led Los Angeles to a Super Bowl appearance in his second season, and the team missed out on the playoffs this year but still finished 9-7. He’s been able to manage talented rosters, and teams like Green Bay have found success hiring former McVay assistants like Matt LaFleur.

Maurice ranks seventh all time among NHL coaches in wins, and he’s hitting his prime in his fifth head-coaching stint. Winnipeg reached the conference finals in 2017-18. Maurice reached the Stanley Cup finals one time with Carolina in 2001-02. He’s still just 52 years old. There is enough time to get back.

Zimmer brings a no-nonsense approach that he learned under Bill Parcells, and that has translated to a 57-38-1 record and three playoff appearances with the Minnesota Vikings. Zimmer led Minnesota to the NFC championship game in 2017, and there is a core there that should be successful on both sides of the ball for 2020. Zimmer, 63, should have this team in the mix for the next several seasons.

We are either going to take Reid or Shanahan off this list after Super Bowl 54, but there is no denying the 40-year-old 49ers coach is cut from the same cloth as his father. San Francisco is winning with an efficient quarterback, intricate running scheme and nasty defense built around the line. Shanahan led that turn-around in three seasons, and it resulted in a break-through 13-3 season in 2019.

Harbaugh was ranked No. 3 when we did this last time based on his tenure with Stanford and San Francisco, and he left the NFL with the fifth-best regular-season winning percentage of all time. He led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, too, but that 34-31 loss is the closest the quirky coach has been to a championship at either the pro or college level.

He’s led Michigan to a 47-18 record since taking over, which ranks 10th among Power 5 programs after 2015. The big-game losses to Ohio State and in the bowl games have been talked about most and continue to weigh on the program heading into his sixth season.

The three-time manager of the year has made six postseason appearances through stops with Seattle, Arizona and Oakland, but he’s had the most success with the Athletics. That has come with four seasons with 90-plus victories. The hitch has been the inability to get past the AL Wild Card round in the last three appearances. With more postseason success, the 58-year-old manager will move up the list.

Miller is the best coach who has not reached the Final Four. He has five 30-win seasons and four Elite Eight appearances between stops with Xavier and Arizona, and both schools were close to getting to the final weekend. Miller’s tenure at Arizona has not been without controversy, but he weathered that and has another team ready to compete in the NCAA tournament this season.

Budenholzer has elevated two NBA markets that aren’t used to big-time success. He took the Hawks to four consecutive playoff appearances, including the Eastern Conference finals in 2014-15. The Bucks made the same spot last year in Budenholzer’s first season and have the best record in the NBA this season. The 50-year-old coach clearly learned from his long stint as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.

Rivera was a member of the Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl championship team in 1985, and he took those lessons to make four playoff appearances in nine seasons with the Panthers. Rivera led Carolina to a 15-1 season and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Carolina struggled the last few seasons, and now Rivera will reset his career as head coach of the Redskins. Washington has not reached the Super Bowl since 1991.

Beilein’s NBA stint with the Cavaliers is not going to live up to what he accomplished at the college level, and that’s OK. He led Canisius, Richmond and West Virginia to tournament success before his career took off at Michigan – where the Wolverines made a pair of national championship appearances. Beilein did all that while being one of the consummate “good guys” in the sport. The move to the NBA at 66 years old was risky, but it’s on Cleveland to show some patience.

Kelly’s tenure at Notre Dame is remarkable when you consider how tough the job is. There have been ups and downs, but he led two undefeated regular seasons in 2012 and 2018. High-profile losses to Alabama and Clemson overshadow the overall success of the program – which is 33-6 the last three seasons. Kelly also has developed a pipeline to the NFL, especially on the offensive line.

Riley is a quarterback whisperer who has led Oklahoma to a 36-6 record with three straight Big 12 championships and College Football Playoff berths. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy, and Jalen Hurts was a Heisman finalist. Riley has not had success in the CFP, but his system has attracted the attention of the NFL. The 36-year-old coach should continue to improve, too.

Huggins is a member of the 800-win club in college basketball, and he has coached for more than 40 years as an assistant and head coach. Huggins has made 24 NCAA tournament appearances through stops at Akron, Cincinnati and West Virginia, and he’s stuck with an authentic style that his players have followed all along. Huggins has led just two Final Four runs and has had a fair share of bad tourney luck, but that does not take away from the overall success.

Smart had the Bulldogs close to breaking a national championship drought that extends back to 1980 two seasons ago, and with continued success on the recruiting trail it is only a matter of time before Georgia ends that curse. Smart has led the Bulldogs to a 44-12 record and three straight SEC East championships. He’s taken the lessons learned from Nick Saban at Alabama and elevated a program that continues to inch closer in college football’s toughest conference.

D’Antoni sticks with that up-tempo style no matter where he coaches. He has the most wins among active NBA coaches without a championship, and he’s still looking for that elusive trip to the NBA Finals. D’Antoni has coached three 60-win teams and three teams that have reached the NBA Finals between his stops in Phoenix and Houston, and the tandem of James Harden and Russell Westbrook should keep this year’s team in the mix.

Roberts helped the Red Sox break their World Series curse as a player, and he’s trying to help the Dodgers end a drought that extends back to 1988. Los Angeles has a 393-256 record the past four seasons, and that has come with four straight NL West division titles. The Dodgers made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017-18, and the window is still open. Roberts’ consistency from year-to-year to get back to the postseason is commendable, but he’ll have to break through at some point.

Stevens’ legend grew when he led Butler to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA championship game from 2010-11. He is in his seventh season with Boston, and the Celtics have reached the conference finals in two of the last three seasons. Stevens’ seamless ability to coach at either level and adapt with any set of players that makes him an easy choice for the top five on this list.

Few checks every box except national championship, and he’s done that at Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have made 20 straight NCAA tournament appearances with Few, and they have advanced to the Sweet 16 or better in each of the last five seasons. Gonzaga was the national runner-up in the 2016-17 NCAA tournament. Few is inching closer to 600 wins, and the Bulldogs are in contention for a No. 1 seed again this season.

Reid, who is 207-128-1, is the only coach inNFL history with at least 200 wins who does not have a championship to his credit. In 21 seasons with Philadelphia and Kansas City, he led those franchises to seven conference championship appearances.

Reid revived his career with the help of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and now will be making his second Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. This is the time for the 61-year-old coach to cash in.

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