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Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Who wants 900 wins, anyway?

By Eamonn Brennan

Tonight is Jim Boeheim's night. There are a few other games to keep an eye on, and a few stories worth tracking, but if Michael Carter-Williams & Co. handle business against Rutgers in the Carrier Dome, the college basketball world will pause to take collective stock of Boeheim's accomplishment and what it means in the sport. Milestones like this are few and far between.

After all, how many other coaches could even get to 900? ESPN Stats & Info guru Jeremy Lundblad answered exactly that question on New Year's Day -- that's more than I was doing at 10 a.m. on New Year's Day, that's for sure -- with a list of 10 coaches for whom the wins versus age math makes sense.

As you might assume, Butler coach Brad Stevens was among the inclusions. As Jeremy notes, Stevens was one of the youngest coaches in history to reach 50 and 100 wins, and will accomplish a milestone of his own with his 150th win Wednesday night (assuming Butler beats Penn, that is), and even as his program moves to a tougher league, he's young enough and more than good enough to make the notion downright plausible.

The only problem? Brad Stevens wants nothing to do with 900 wins:
"No shot. No shot. No shot," he said. "I'm not much into guarantees, but I guarantee that I will not get to 900."

Stevens sounds a lot like Kansas coach Bill Self, who was asked a similar question about Coach K's all-time wins record in December. Self is the second-likeliest candidate to get to 900 wins, according to Jeremy; he's 50 and not far off of 500 wins, and he averages an insane 29 wins a season. At this rate, Self could get to 900 wins by his 65th birthday. But the idea doesn't seem to appeal to him in the least, either:
“Zero [interest],” Self said. “Whoever wrote that, doesn’t know me very well. I don’t think that I’ll want to coach near that long.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari has said the same thing at various times in discussing his job at Kentucky, to the point where I'm wondering if this is an actual trend. Self is 50. Calipari is 53. Stevens is 36. I can't help but wonder if those guys picture the next 15 or 25 years of their lives and wonder if being on the sideline and recruiting year-round isn't as enticing as, say, playing Wii bowling with family, or sitting on the beach. I wonder if this is a generational thing, where that sort of longevity is respected but not desired, akin to the way my generation regards careers as fluid constructs, but my father and my friends' fathers (whether blue-collar or white-) were all 30-year men at whatever company hired them when they were 18 or 22.

Or maybe it's just all talk, and in 30 years we'll be crowning Stevens the winningest coach of all time. I don't know. I can't predict the future. But when I meet my loop from 2042, I'll be sure to ask. Until then, it makes for interesting discussion.