March Madness. It’s upon us once again, that magical time of year when 64 teams become one, and the NCAA crowns its men’s college basketball champion.
Last year, MediaMiser analyzed 13,000 tweets to see who the people were picking to win it all (Kentucky was a good choice, just not the right one).
But this year we’ve taken a different approach. Instead of simply putting our finger to the wind, we’ve looked at an aspect of college athletics that very much sets it apart from professional leagues: the cult of reverence afforded its coaches.
To find out just which coach is getting the most press, we monitored U.S. print outlets from March 1-15 for all mentions of both “NCAA” and each of the coaches of the four regions’ top four teams. That means:
- Kansas Jayhawks
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Oregon Ducks
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Villanova Wildcats
- Xavier Musketeers
- Oklahoma Sooners
- Michigan State Spartans
- Miami Hurricanes
- West Virginia Mountaineers
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Utah Runnin’ Utes
- California Golden Bears
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Duke Blue Devils
- Iowa State Cyclones
If you’re at all acquainted with college basketball, the coaches atop this list won’t surprise you ━ the top five have all been in their posts for at least seven years, with Coach Krzyzewski having been at Duke since 1980.
In no pro sports league do the men and women behind the bench draw as much praise and celebration as those in charge of the NCAA’s student-athletes, and that’s nowhere more obvious than in college basketball.
Not only do these men define their programs, sign long and lucrative contracts, and command the respect of entire communities (and sometimes entire states), in many cases they earn, if not more, then very nearly as many media mentions as their star players ━ something virtually unthinkable in most other leagues around the world.
What this chart shows us more than anything is that college athletics are a different beast from pro sports. In these programs, athletes typically come and go but coaches remain… in some cases, for what seems like ever.
That’s why it’s in the interest of these schools to not only nab an excellent skipper, but to market them too (and, potentially, keep them brushed up on their media training). It’s something the best college basketball teams do like no one else.
The proof is in the numbers.
But if you don’t believe us that coaches are important, maybe you’ll listen to the POTUS, who explained his bracket thus:
“I have a tendency to pick the coach as much as anything, because typically these days, with one and done, what you see is continuity with the program. Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski] or Coach [Tom] Izzo or Coach [Bill] Self, Coach [John] Calipari, they know how to take even their blue-chip freshmen and mold them, so that by the time the tournament comes around they’re ready.”
Enjoy the Madness!