The most exciting sporting event of the year is almost here. College basketball’s March Madness™ is a one-game elimination, tournament for all the marbles. The tournament features the best teams, players and coaches in the game. It’s must watch TV, even for non-sports lovers. The buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories, athleticism, player backgrounds and emotions provide more drama than Law & Order: SVU. Schools, and their alumni, will go from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat (and vice versa) in as little as .03 seconds.
College basketball, like any other highly visible sports league, has its characters to be sure. However, because of the amateur status of its “student-athletes” (the NCAA’s profit off players is a much debated topic), the most visible personalities of college basketball are its coaches. Motivating players, yelling at refs, squatting, drawing up plays, sweating and getting sweated on is how most coaches spend their time. For these reasons they don’t typically concern themselves with wearing the finest suits (in contrast to their NBA counterparts). Consequently, since our interest lies in the crossroad of sports and style, we’ve identified a handful of guys (and ladies). These coaches have managed to do their jobs while maintaining reputations as the most stylish coaches in college basketball.
Tommy Amaker, Harvard University
Tommy Amaker, a former star point guard for Duke, is now the all-time winningest coach in Harvard history. Under Amaker the Crimson have achieved numerous league championships and four NCAA tourney appearances from 2012-15. His on court style is simple and clean, usually consisting of a blazer, dress shirt (no tie) and trousers. And yet, it’s a noticeable uniform that’s allowed him to be comfortably of the game without necessarily being in it.
Leonard Hamilton, Florida State University
Known for his idiosyncratic facial expressions as much as his competitive teams, Leonard Hamilton has been a stalwart at FSU for the last 17 years. He’s the winner of numerous coach of the year honors, and his teams manage to knock off Duke now and again which makes him one of my favorites. By the end of most games Hamilton’s tie has loosened up along with the top button of his shirt. But it’s hard to blame him when you see the result of his team on the court.
Jay Wright, Villanova University
Before Villanova took home two championships in recent years, Jay Wright had a reputation as the sharpest dressed guy in the game. Now he’s known as an excellent, accomplished coach who still happens to be the sharpest dressed guy in the game. Wright combines old Hollywood looks with dapper three-piece suits to come off as cool as the other side of the pillow. Recently, nobody’s done sideline style better.
Nikki Fargas, LSU
It’s not just the men who are raising the style game. Nikki Fargas, the former NCAA champion with Tennessee and now head women’s basketball coach at LSU, has led her teams to the tournament 8 out of 10 years. Fargas’ basketball bonafides are established. In bringing her unique flair to the court, she’s demonstrated that success doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style.
Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
I’m sure Buzz Williams begins each game wearing the jacket that accompanies his suit. But inevitably, off it goes, leaving him to do work in the natty vest with which his style has become synonymous. His histrionics and shaven head bring to mind the lieutenant stereotype, chewing out the young reckless detectives (or players) in his purview. In his sixth year at “VaTech”, Williams’ Hokies are a top-15 team and he’s got them poised to make some noise in the tournament.
Bruce Weber, Kansas State University
Bruce Weber has the buttoned up and refined sheen of a politician but his teams mix it up. 2005’s national coach of the year has his Wildcats fighting for the conference title in the lead up to the 2019 tournament (it’s the first time in 14 years a team not named “Jayhawks” will win the Big 12). The fact that Weber gets the job done with what seems like effortless cool in classic clothing is a testament to the preparation he puts in and the style he displays on court.
Tom Izzo, Michigan State University
To be frank, Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo isn’t best known for his style but I’m putting him here anyway (full disclosure: Michigan State is my alma mater). The list of Tom Izzo’s accomplishments is many (a “natty”, numerous league titles and seven Final Fours among them). Over the years, coach Izzo’s fiery temperament has mellowed while his style has become more refined. Additionally, one accessory you’ll always catch him wearing for big games is a tie with a splash of green.
As for who wins the tournament/s this year, it’s anybody’s guess. All I know for certain is that my bracket, like millions of others, will be busted.