UConn Has Now Made the Final Four Under Three Different Coaches in 12 Years

Connecticut v Gonzaga
Connecticut v Gonzaga / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The UConn Huskies are headed back to the Final Four after beating Gonzaga in the Elite Eight on Saturday night. It is the school's first trip to the Final Four under Dan Hurley and it ends a Final Four drought that goes all the way back to the 2010's. The Huskies hadn't made it past the first weekend of the tournament since 2014, when they won the NCAA title under Kevin Ollie.

It is both impressive and random that Hurley was able to get UConn back to the Final Four. On the one hand, the tournament seems increasingly random and UConn as a 4-seed is actually the highest seeded team to make the Final Four this year. Plus, UConn had never won a tournament game under Hurley in his first four seasons. On the other hand, UConn is back in the Final Four with a completely different coach in less than 10 years. That has to be rare. Even rarer still, UConn also won a title in 2011 under Jim Calhoun meaning the Huskies have been to the Final Four with three different coaches in just 12 years!

Unsurprisingly, the North Carolina Tar Heels are the gold standard for this quirky fact-like thing. Dean Smith coached UNC from 1961 to 1997, winning two titles and making 11 Final Fours. He retired after one last Final Four run in '97. That's when his longtime assistant of three decades, Bill Guthridge, took over and made two Final Four runs in three seasons before he called it quits at 62. Then Matt Doherty had three disappointing seasons as coach before Roy Williams came home, immediately turned the program back around, and won the title in 2005. That's three different coaches making the Final Four in just eight seasons. I'm willing to bet that never happens again.

The Kentucky Wildcats did it in 14 years. Twice. Joe B. Hall had Kentucky in the Final Four in 1984. Eddie Sutton only made an Elite Eight a couple years later, but Rick Pitino made three Final Fours before Tubby Smith won the title in 1998. Fourteen seasons also separated Pitino's last Final Four in 1997 and John Calipari's first Final Four in 2011, where they lost to... UConn.

The other school to come close is UCLA, which made three consecutive Final Four runs with Ben Howland in '06, '07 and '08. Steve Alford took them in '18 and Mark Cronin did it in '21.

The Kansas Jayhawks have also had success under multiple coaches in a reasonably short timeframe. Ted Owens coached Kanas to the 1974 Final Four. Larry Brown had them back in '86 and won in '88. Roy Williams took them back to the Final Four in '91. So that's a 17-year stretch. Then there were 20 years between Brown's title and Bill Self's title in '08. Fun fact: It's been more than 100 years since a Jayhawks coach failed to reach the Final Four (or championship game) during his tenure.

Only 27 schools in history have made three Final Fours at all. When you think of the ultimate basketball schools, UConn, UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina are a pretty good start to that list.