The study seems to have been done of pro leagues, which have an entirely different dynamic than college teams.
Even pro players get recruited and at least part of their decision is based on for which coach they want to play.
Pros are all drafted and traded to start. Every single college player comes in as an unrestricted free agent. Yes, there is eventually free agency, but those negotiations are usually with the general manager and president and involve money and other factors having little or nothing to do with the coach.
Ignoring players was also interesting. Basketball in particular can be hugely influenced by a very small number of players. Without LeBron, where would Spoelstra and Lue rank? Lots of arguments over where Jackson ranks, since he always won with well put together teams with top shelf talent.
Is this really a serious question? If it is, in the immortal words of John McEnroe: "You...cannot...be...SERIOUS!"
It's not just recruiting. It's not just game tactics. It's everything. Organization. Team culture. System. Recruiting. Player development. Etc. All of it. Few head coaches can do all of it well. But the best ones know how to get all of it done well (for example, by finding, grooming, and demanding excellence from great assistants, trainers, support staff, etc.).
Long-term winning programs are built, and sustained, by excellent head coaches. Any doubt about that can be seen when some previously great programs go into a long decline after the departure of the great coach (Exhibit A: John Wooden/UCLA basketball). There are many other examples in multiple sports.
I guess I've only had mediocre coaches my entire life, although there was one assistant coach in JV soccer I really liked. I hoped to become him someday. He always smiled and never lost his patience with us doofs. Whenever he saw me, he would always smile and say, "There he is! There's the man!"
We don't get them all, just 50% of the great ones.
After watching years of HS and D3, my goal is for the team to bring in 2 good players ever year. if you do that you can keep it going. I get the feeling that to play at the top level of D1 you do need more than that, you do need 50% of your players to be able to make it at that level, if you want to go to final 4s.
Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Eddie Robinson at Grambling. Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. It’s hard to underestimate the impact these coaches have had on their organizations. But are coaches always an X factor? Just look at the Golden State Warriors. Dominating as they have been under Steve Kerr’s steady guiding hand, they have been every bit as successful — actually statistically even more successful — during Kerr’s two extended absences from the team when Luke Walton and then Mike Brown (not exactly Hall of Fame coaches) took the helm. Which brings us to the question of the day: How much do coaches actually matter? Well, two researchers from the University of Chicago just might have the answer.
Their conclusions might surprise you, given the present day ethos. Their methodology takes a lot of getting used to and understand.
Their conclusions didn't surprise me, but some of the responses here have. My impression is that the media likes a narrative where coaches are either irrelevant or geniuses that always win (or idiots that always lose) because, I guess, the reality that coaches make a significant though usually not dramatic difference is boring. Sigh.