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The Top Ten Mid-Major Coaches of All Time: Part 2

Don't tell these guys they're small-time

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

We've already given you half of the top 10 mid-major coaches of all time. Now, it's time to look at the all-time greats:

5. Brad Stevens Butler (2007-2013)

Stevens took the reigns for Butler at the ripe old age of 31 and spent the next six years setting the college basketball world on fire. Stevens’ Bulldogs won at least a share of the Horizon League championship in each of his first four seasons as head coach. He took Butler to back-to-back Final Fours in 2010-11 and was a half-inch away from winning a national championship in 2010. Stevens would be higher on this list, but his tenure at the mid-major level lasted just six years before he moved on to a bigger and better opportunity with the Boston Celtics.

4. Gregg Marshall Winthrop (1998-2007) Wichita State (2007-present)

As a certain well-tanned presidential candidate would say, "He’s a winner." Marshall has compiled 17 winning seasons in his 18 years as a mid-major head coach. He took a Winthrop program dancing seven times in his nine seasons as coach, despite the program never having made the NCAA Tournament before his tenure. Marshall’s greatest strength as a coach is his ability to develop players. He took Ron Baker from an unknown, one-dimensional player with an atrocious perm to an honorable mention All-American with a legitimate shot at a successful career in the NBA, and he molded Cleanthony Early from a junior college transfer to one of the best forwards in the country. The Shockers made a Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2013 and followed it up with a perfect regular season in 2014. This list also rewards loyalty, which Marshall exhibited in 2015 when he turned down Texas and Alabama to sign a seven-year deal to stay in Wichita.

3. Mark Few Gonzaga (1999-present)

You can’t talk about mid-major greatness without mentioning Gonzaga, and you can’t talk about Gonzaga without mentioning Mark Few. In Few’s 17 seasons patrolling the sidelines, the Bulldogs have NEVER missed the NCAA Tournament and have won the West Coast Conference in all but two of those seasons (they finished second in 2000 and 2012). That’s some Tim Duncan-level consistency right there. His 21-17 record in the NCAA Tournament is almost unthinkable for a team that has found itself as a double-digit seed five times in his tenure. Gonzaga has won 81 percent of its games during Few’s tenure. I could go on and on rattling off astounding Mark Few stats, but you get the point. Dude can flat out coach.

2. Don Haskins (Texas Western/UTEP 1961-99)

One could argue that there is no coach, basketball or elsewhere, who made a greater impact on American culture and society than Don Haskins. Haskins was the first coach to start five black players in a national championship game, as his 1966 Miners pulled off the biggest upset in Final Four history, stunning Pat Riley and Kentucky. Haskins also scores loyalty points for his 38-year run in El Paso that included seven WAC championships and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances.

1. Jerry Tarkanian Long Beach State (1968-73) UNLV (1973-92) Fresno State (1995-2002)

After leading Long Beach State to two Elite Eights in his five-year tenure, Tark the Shark took over an obscure school in the middle of the desert and built the greatest empire in mid-major college basketball history. Tarkanian’s three-year run from 1988-1991 was unprecedented for a mid-major program. The Runnin’ Rebels cruised to the 1990 national championship and started the 1991 campaign 34-0 before a stunning two-point loss to Christian Laettner and Duke in the Final Four. Tark’s 16 conference championships, four Final Four appearances and one national championship were more than enough to land him at the top of our list.