Ever since I created the “March Madness Survival Guide” last January, one of the things that people really enjoyed were my coach doppelgängers. For those that haven’t read any of the Guides to this point, basically we compare one of the prominent college basketball coaches to another celebrity, both for physical appearance but also more importantly for personality or other factors.
College coaches have a ton of power, I would say too much in a lot of cases, so it feels nice to compare them to mob bosses, crooked Wall Street bankers, dodgeball players, assistants TO the regional manager, game show hosts, and let’s not forget the emperor of the galactic empire.
So here are the top ten college basketball coach doppelgangers, ranked based upon completely arbitrary and nonsensical attributes!
10. John Thompson III – Georgetown
Family Feud’s Steve Harvey!!
Because let’s be honest, these guys look almost exactly alike. PLUS, the family feud angle plays really well when you think about how John Thompson III got his job (his dad was a legendary Georgetown coach in the ’80s), and how his whole life he’s just tried to live up to his dad’s legacy.
9. Rick Pitino – Louisville
Dodgeball’s White Goodman!
Rick Pitino’s all-white suit was legendary, and I don’t think anyone else could’ve pulled it off. Oh wait, someone did. And that person was White Goodman, owner of both a giant gym and a killer head of hair.
Aside from wardrobe choice, Pitino and Goodman share a similar temperament: a smug confidence that can explode into wild rage at the drop of a hat. Would you really be surprised if Pitino made his motto, “at Louisville we’re better than you, and we know it!”
And most importantly, in light of all of the allegations and accusations that have flown Pitino’s way the last two seasons, I can just imagine him yelling “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!!” at Chris Jones (dismissed and later arrested for rape and sodomy) or investigators (looking into how much he knew about the strippers that were seemingly a part of his recruiting pitch).
8. Bo Ryan – Wisconsin
Star Wars’ Emperor Palpatine!
Bo Ryan led his team to the national title game last year, before retiring this season in order to focus on his side job, running the galactic empire. Think about the similarities.
Ultra successful…seems to have magic powers…doesn’t come across as the nicest guy when he’s on your bad side…sounds like someone else I know. Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars!
Above is a Chirp City exclusive image of Bo Ryan using the Force to inject athleticism and shooting ability into his cast of white farm boys from Wisconsin. For years Ryan used the force to turn the Buzzcuts into championship contenders.
7. Mark Few – Gonzaga
Actor Kevin Bacon
Has there ever been a closer comparison in the history of coach doppelgängers?? I’m not entirely certain that these two people aren’t actually the same person. It’s actually possible!
All of Kevin Bacon’s good performances came before 1999, the same year Few took the Gonzaga job. Hmmmm….seriously hats off to Kevin “Mark Few” Bacon, who was able to star in “X-Men: First Class” in the same year he guided Gonzaga to 26 wins and a conference championship. Props, bro.
6. Roy Williams – North Carolina
A Few Good Men’s Col. Nathan Jessup!
It all started last season, when Roy Williams went off on UNC fans’ lack of support. It wasn’t a smart move, it wasn’t a popular move, but it was a boldness that I had only seen one other time, and that was under the piercing gaze of a young Tom Cruise.
Calling out fans? That’s a bold move Cotton, we’ll see if that pays off for him *Dodgeball reference*. While you should never insult your paying customers, Ol’ Roy spoke the truth, as UNC fans this year have been “wine and cheese” type fans this season. Some people just have the courage to say and do things that the rest of us are better off not knowing about! We use words like honor, code, loyalty, we use these words as a backbone of a life spent defending something, you use them as a punchline! I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way!!
Ok sorry sorry I got carried away by how amazing that scene is, and since you are about to go look that video up on youtube, here you go.
5. Jay Wright – Villanova
The Godfather, The Godfather Part 2’s Michael Corleone!
Jay Wright deserved honorary top five status in this elite group because he was actually the inspiration that created the coach doppelgänger idea. It’s impossible to watch a Villanova game without saying to yourself, “wow that coach really looks like he should be running a mafia crime family.”
After Villanova’s recent stretch of getting upset in NCAA tournaments, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a lot of referees mysteriously found themselves “sleeping with the fishes.”
4. Bob Huggins – West Virginia
The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano!
Original Publication: Featured on the next March Madness Survival Guide!
In the spirit of mob bosses and college basketball coach comparison, it would be impossible to not mention both Tony Soprano and Bob “Huggy Bear” Huggins. Just as Tony Soprano didn’t fit into the typical “mafia” stereotype as far as appearance, neither does Bob Huggins. But hey, both men look great in oversized black t-shirts.
These men also share the awards for “best pissed off scowl,” “resting annoyed face,” and “most likely to be keister-stashing a gun.” On a scale from 9-10, how quickly would you believe me if I told you Bob Huggins had killed a bunch of people and was being forced to go to therapy against his will?
3. Tom Izzo – Michigan State
Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction’s Harvey Keitel
Izzo and Keitel actually have a pretty strong resemblance, as shown in the picture above! But if you’ve been following the March Madness Survival Guide, you know that appearance is far from the most important factor in these doppelgängers.
I’ve had a turbulent relationship with Tarantino movies. I don’t get them, haven’t particularly liked them, and most importantly have failed to see the genius in them that everyone else sees. I’m a work in progress. That being said, they all have incredibly memorable characters.
Tom Izzo is like Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs in his support of Denzel Valentine, just as his support for Mr. Orange led to his death in the movie (spoiler alert). If Valentine were secretly an undercover Kentucky player who was going to switch teams before the tournament (plausible), Izzo would still defend him at gunpoint.
He’s like Winston Wolf because “I solve problems” really sums up Izzo’s coaching style. It doesn’t matter what chess pieces he has or the other team has, he just finds a way to exploit some advantage and win. Plus if there were one coach I’d call if I had just shot a man in the backseat of my car and there was blood everywhere and I needed to clean up the situation, it would be Tom “Winston Wolf” Izzo (again, spoiler alert).
2. Tom Crean – Indiana
The Office’s Dwight Schrute
Aside from the dashing good looks and unfortunate hair part right smack-dab in the middle of their head, Crean and Schrute also share facial expressions that are really hard to describe with words. Plus, if you learned that Tom Crean was running a beat farm in his off-seasons, would you really be that surprised?
He may have a lot of new free time to tend to his farm, bed and breakfast, and new garden party business after this college basketball season.
AND FINALLY, THE TOP COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACH DOPPELGÄNGER IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…..
1. John Calipari – Kentucky
Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko!!
My personal favorite coach doppelgänger because it is so spot on, and really describes the type of program that Calipari is running in Lexington.
Simply put, “Greed is good.”
Calipari has built college basketball’s evil empire on that premise. His program serves as a momentary “bus stop” (as Roy Williams likes to call it) for all of the top NBA prospects who aren’t allowed to be paid for their first year out of high school. He doesn’t ask them to sacrifice for the team, he instead encourages them to indulge. Become the best player you can be, do whatever you need to do on the court to show your skills to scouts, focus on yourself.
And all the while he can promise the next year’s recruits the playing time and spotlight immediately because his current crop will be long gone. Just like Gordon Gekko, I can’t really blame Calipari for exploiting a broken system, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hate him for it.
Not to mention the fame and fortune and spotlight that has found its way to Calipari personally. Gordon Gekko would be proud of the suits Calipari walks around in, the swagger he talks to people with, and the money jingling in his pocket.We’ll return to this topic the next time we hit ten new coach doppelgängers, but until then, thanks for reading the March Madness Survival Guide! This is the year folks, one of my Surivalists is bringing home Warren Buffet’s billion dollar reward! It’s the American Dream!
By Matt Craig
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