This is perhaps a little exercise in vanity on my part because a lot of what I'm going to post is cribbed directly from comments made while debating with (who else) Terpific here about whether or not Gary Williams should be in the Hall of Fame. I feel like it was a pretty good exchange, but most of it got buried deep in a days-old dead thread. Not a little research went into the argument, so I wanted to share it in the right forum. All stats are from sports reference, unless otherwise indicated. I hope you find it interesting and that if you were on the fence about Coach Williams being a bona fide legend, this assuages your doubts!
Terpific got the ball rolling with a list of 15 coaches "not in the hall of fame" he feels have better resumes than Gary:
1. Coach K 2. Roy Williams 3. Eddie Sutton 4. John Calipari 5. Jim Boeheim 6. Rick Pitino 7. Jim Calhoun 8. Tom Izzo 9. Bill Self 10. Billy Donovan 11. Thad Matta 12. Bob Huggins 13. Bo Ryan 14. Mike Montgomery 15. Mark Few
He then offers 3 more he thinks will get there given enough time:
Brad Stevens Jamie Dixon Sean Miller
He provided a summary of each resume that, for the sake of space, I have omitted.
To Terpific's credit, this is quite a list and it's hard to argue that several of these coaches don't have better resumes. Of course, it's also true that K, Roy, Beoheim, Calhoun and Pitino are all in the Hall already!
Among the others, I cede that Izzo, Self and Donovan are clearly better. They will likely be first ballot of famers when they reach 25 years of coaching. Cal and Sutton have better resumes (although no natty for Sutton), but have scandals attached to them. I Cal is eligible in 3 years and Sutton is, of course, nominated this year, so we'll see how much their improprieties impact their chances. I'm sure Sutton would be in without them.
Through my reasearch, I found out there have been 3514 coaches in D1 history (Sports Reference has a count for each beginning letter of the last name like this). Terpific's best argument against Gary, to my mind, is his winning percentage. He "only" ranks 176th all-time in this category. Of course, that still puts him just a tiny shade shy of the 95th percentile (5.008% of coaches rank better). If the most damning statistic puts him in the top 5% of his profession, the case against is pretty weak! In my opinion, his winning percentage is mitigated by both the sanction years and the his difficult strength of schedule (his career 7.16 is quite good, but if you take away his time at American it jumps to 8.38. This stat has been around since '79-80 and isn't easy to sort by, so I can't put this into historical context, but comparing among the guys on Terpific's list, the guys who rank higher than Gary's adjusted number are K, Roy and Izzo. There are others who are similar. Beoheim's career mark is 7.37., as is Bo Ryan's. At Wisconsin, Ryan's mark is 8.21. Bill Self is hurt by his early career, but his last two stops are quite similar to Gary's last two.
The reason Terpific put out such an extensive list is to say that there's not enough room in the HOF for all these fine coaches. Why not, though? As mentioned, 5 are in already. Cal is eligible in 3 years, then Self, Donovan and Izzo over the next 3. It's certainly not hard to believe they all get elected in their 1st year. Matta, Few and the others int the "receiving Terpific votes" section have a decade or so to go before they're eligible, meaning the election of these 15 names wouldn't happen all at once. That leaves Huggins, Ryan and Montgomery. I strongly suspect Huggins and Ryan will get in. For Huggins, it might take a while before the press to forgive his checkered past and his oh-so-sunny disposition, but his success is undeniable. Ryan might need another big Tournament run, but he's a great coach. Montgomery? He could be left out, but I suspect Stanford is a sacred enough institution that it will buy him some extra votes.
So what's the case for Gary? Well, as mentioned above, he's top 5 in win percentage. He's also top 1% in total wins(#23) tournament wins (also #23) and tournament winning % (#20). He is in the 1.37% of coaches who have won a National Title. (tournament stats via http://www.dbwoerner.com/basketball/coaches.html)