2022 Final Four: Mike Krzyzewski would join exclusive coaching club if Duke wins title in his final season


It seems fitting that the Duke Blue Devils are running like a well-oiled machine in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final NCAA Tournament. Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, Krzyzewski revealed that this season would be his last. Krzyzewski has been the head coach at Duke for the last 42 seasons and produced a Hall of Fame career during that time.

Coach K has put together a career record of 1,202-367, which is good for a .766 winning percentage. He’s led the Blue Devils to five national championships and 13 Final Four appearances. In order to win that sixth national championship, Duke will have to defeat arch rival North Carolina in Saturday’s Final Four matchup and the winner of Kansas/Villanova in Monday’s national championship game.

If Duke does win it all, Krzyzewski will join a very exclusive club: coaches that have gone out with a championship in their final seasons. Here’s a look at who Coach K would join in those ranks.

John Wooden

When it comes to legendary coaches through sports history, the conversation has to start with John Wooden. After all, Wooden won 10 national championships during his time at UCLA and also had 12 Final Four appearances. Wooden even won national titles in seven consecutive seasons from 1967 to 1973. The Hall of Fame coach’s final season came during the 1974-75 campaign and he led the Bruins to a 28-3 (12-2) record, which culminated in UCLA defeating Kentucky 92-85 in the championship game. Wooden finished his collegiate coaching career with a 620-147 record and a .808 winning percentage.

Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh led the San Francisco 49ers to three of the franchise’s five Super Bowl titles in the 1980s. After the 49ers lost in the Wild Card and Divisional rounds of the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, Walsh finally got the job done one more time during the 1988 season. In 1988, San Francisco had a 10-6 record in the regular season and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind the Chicago Bears. The 49ers ended up defeating the Minnesota Vikings and Bears en route to a 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. It marked Walsh’s third Super Bowl in seven seasons and allowed the legendary coach to go out on top.

Scotty Bowman


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The Detroit Red Wings were one of the most dominant NHL teams of the 1990s behind head coach Scotty Bowman, who won a league-record nine Stanley Cup titles during his coaching career. Over a six-year period from 1996 to 2002, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup three times, including once during coach Scotty Bowman’s final season in 2002. Bowman led Detroit to a 51-17-10 record in the regular season and earned the top seed in the Western Conference as a result. The Red Wings topped the likes of the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche to reach the Stanley Cup Final in a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes. Bowman had announced in February 2002 that he would retire at the conclusion of the season and was able to go out on top of the NHL mountain.

Al McGuire

It’s rare to see a head coach win their first championship in the final season of their coaching career, but  that’s exactly how it played out for former Marquette coach Al McGuire. The Golden Eagles had been the runner-up in the NCAA Tournament on two occasions during McGuire’s first 12 seasons at the school. In his 13th campaign, McGuire was able to get over the hump as he led Marquette to a 25-7 record and a national championship in 1977. In order to achieve the historic feat, Marquette defeated North Carolina 67-59 in the national title game behind future Atlanta Hawks first round pick Butch Lee, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

Tom Osborne

Tom Osborne led the Nebraska Cornhuskers to 10 conference titles during his time with the program. Osborne accumulated a career record of 255-49-3 and won the national championship in three of his final four seasons. Prior to the 1997 national championship game against Peyton Manning and Tennessee, Osborne announced that it would mark the end of his head coaching career. In true Osborne fashion, he was able to go out with a 42-17 win over the Volunteers and secure another title. Star running back Ahman Green paced the Cornhuskers with 201 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns en route to MVP honors. Osborne had 255 wins during his head coaching career, which is currently the ninth-most all-time.

Red Auerbach


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Red Auerbach is one of the winningest coaches in NBA history. Auerbach racked up 938 wins, which is good for 12th most in NBA history, while also securing nine NBA titles as the coach of the Boston Celtics. The first of Auerbach’s NBA championships came in 1957 and was followed by eight consecutive NBA titles from 1959 to 1966. Auerbach capped off his head coaching career by beating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games in the 1966 NBA Finals. The Celtics trailed the series three games to one and was the last time that a team rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals to win before the Cleveland Cavaliers did it in 2016. Auerbach spent the remainder of his NBA career in the Celtics’ front office.

Toe Blake

Montreal Canadiens coaching legend Toe Blake is one of just two NHL coaches with at least eight Stanley Cup championships to his credit. Blake had a career record of 500-255-159 during his 13 seasons as the Canadiens head coach. In each of his final four seasons, Blake led Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final and came out on the winning side in three of those series. In addition, the legendary head coach won the Stanley Cup in each of his first five seasons from 1956 to 1960. His final Stanley Cup win came during the 1967-68 campaign in which the Canadiens defeated the St. Louis Blues in four games. Blake ended up announcing his retirement from coaching following the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup-clinching victory.

Buck Shaw

Buck Shaw spent his coaching career splitting time between the collegiate ranks and the NFL. During his time in the NFL, Shaw produced a 52-41-3 record as he coached the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles. In his final season in 1960, Shaw helped lead the Eagles to a 17-3 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game. It turned out to be the only championship game loss for legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Shaw announced his retirement after the Eagles’ victory. He was the oldest coach to win an NFL championship at the time.



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