COLUMBIA -- Steve Spurrier has partly himself to blame. The Head Ball Coach was on a blue-ribbon panel The Sporting News assembled before unveiling its list of "Sports' 50 Greatest Coaches."

Every sport.


The panel of more than 100 included current coaches (including the College of Charleston's Bobby Cremins), former coaches (they asked Lou Holtz) and other experts (but not Erin Andrews).

Spurrier said he is not surprised he didn't make the cut.

"If Roy Williams at North Carolina wasn't in the top 50, I don't feel bad at all," Spurrier said.

Asked if factors such as major NCAA violations and probation should be included when assembling such lists, Spurrier shrugged and said such calls are for "you media guys."

Yes, cheating and other scandals should count.

And Spurrier and his clean slate belong among the top 50.

The Sporting News top 10:

1. John Wooden

2. Vince Lombardi

3. Bear Bryant

4. Phil Jackson

5. Don Shula

6. Red Auerbach

7. Scotty Bowman

8. Dean Smith

9. Casey Stengel

10. Knute Rockne

No Spurrier issue here, though Shula and Stengel are ranked way too high. Maybe a trend is developing: People really like Don Shula and a lot of people still don't like Steve Spurrier.

Passing fancy

The second 10:

11. Pat Summitt

12. Paul Brown

13. Joe Paterno

14. George Halas

15. Chuck Noll

16. Bob Knight

17. Joe Gibbs

18. Tom Landry

19. Mike Krzyzewski

20. Bill Belichick

Again, Spurrier is not a top 20 candidate. But he is 1-0 against Belichick.

As much as winning a national title and six Southeastern Conference championships, the Spurrier ticket is innovation. He breathed fun into SEC football with a passing attack that made others play catch-up. No SEC coach before or since changed the game quite as much.

The third 10

21. Adolph Rupp

22. Joe McCarthy

23. Eddie Robinson

24. Bobby Bowden

25. John McGraw

26. Bill Walsh

27. Woody Hayes

28. Connie Mack

29. Bud Wilkinson

30. Pat Riley

Woody Hayes won three national titles and 13 Big Ten titles at Ohio State. But 'ol Woody disgraced himself and his university when he slugged a Clemson football player in a bowl game.

Spurrier stepped in to help restore rivalry order after Clemson and South Carolina players slugged each other.

The Duke test

Surely, Spurrier belongs somewhere in this fourth 10:

31. Pete Newell

32. Joe Torre

33. Bill Parcells

34. Tom Osborne

35. Walter Alston

36. Bo Schembechler

37. Toe Blake

38. Sparky Anderson

39. Al Arbour

40. Amos Alonzo Stagg

Bo Schembechler was a fine "Michigan man."

But, c'mon now, do you think Bo could have won at Duke?

Spurrier won at Duke, capturing a share of the 1989 Atlantic Coast Conference crown with less talent on the roster than any ACC champion of the last 35 years.

Schembechler overall: 234-65-8 (.775).

Hayes overall: 238-72-10 (.759).

Spurrier overall: 170-62-2 (.731).

Do you know what kind of Big Ten riff-raff Woody and Bo coached against all those years?

Yet there is no Head Ball Coach in the final 10:

41. Tony La Russa

42. Geno Auriemma

43. Dick Irvin

44. Ara Parseghian

45. Chuck Daly

46. Bobby Cox

47. Hank Iba

48. Tommy Lasorda

49. Gregg Popovich

50. Herb Brooks

Spurrier and Roy Williams (also on the panel) are not the only omissions. Ex-Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson was pretty good at winning Super Bowls and Denny Crum's underrated Louisville basketball accomplishments look better every year.

So Spurrier is in good company, which makes for a feistier debate.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at

or 937-5593.