Ranking JMH Center head coaches

My ranking:
Jack Gardner, I know most of you might reverse the order of first two. IMO, getting into the NCAA during his tenure was harder, a final four with Jerry Chambers being MVP after a 4th place finish, developing players like Mike Newlin.

Rick Majerus. There will never be another like him. Lived basketball. Put Utah in the spotlight while basketball was THE sport at Utah. His behavior tainted his legacy.

Bill Foster. Only a couple years, lead Utes to NIT finals when they were considerably more impressive.

Jerry Pimm. Stalwart, consistent. Put Utes in tourney year after year. Had some incredible teams and players. That he left Utah for UC Santa Barbara caught many of us not “in the know” by surprise. Had my favorite teams to watch. Judkins, Vranes, Chambers. . .

Larry Krystkowiak. Would love to see Larry jump over a couple of coaches above him, and he might have that chance.

IMO he needs to learn how to better interact with his players to reduce the number of transfers. Yes lots of schools suffer from transfers. The better teams retain talent unless they go direct from school to pros.

I want to say he faces an uphill battle because Utes are now PAC12, but back in the day the coaches ranked above him faced some great teams, and there were fewer teams invited to the big show.

Lynn Archibald. Really great human. Couldn’t keep Utes at the level we all expected them to play at. Known before he became HC as a great recruiter.

Jim Boylen. Order of these last two is tough. After Chris Hill made the poor Giacoletti hire, he worked very hard to find a great replacement coach. Consesus around the Big10 was Boylen was ready and would flourish. That he is HC of the Bulls, (at least for now), surprises me.

Ray Giacoletti. I think Chris got bad info about Giacoletti. He has proven to be a decent assistant, no more. One of the few hires for which Hill seemed less prepared.

I think you have it about right. I would place Giac above Boylen, simply because I think Boylen did more damage to the program By being a clown. Giac had personal health issues that kept him from functioning as well as he might have, although I agree he was the wrong man at the wrong time. We can thank Mark Few for that, because Few adamantly told Chris Hill that Giac was the real deal, and that Hill would be sorry if he didn’t make the hire. Hill believed Few. Whoops.

1 Like

I thought Giac at the bottom would be universally accepted. That’s where he belongs.

Oh, and Majerus is #1.


I forgot to mention that when the Special Events Center (now the Huntsman Center) went up, it was called The House that Jack Built for many years. For a long time he was also the only D1 coach to take two different schools to the Final Four. He was a legend in his era. (It’s hard to compare eras.) I met him just prior to the finals game in 1998. It was an honor to meet him and I was glad he lived to see that game.


Yes they were Majerus leftovers but Giac did go 29-6 and COY in his first season, Bogut had a lot to do with that. 25-34 after that. Losing Hawkins and Cheney was the first sign. Under-using Drka and Tillie was the next step. He failed again at Drake. Just like Boylen he knows Xs and Os but can’t recruit to save his life.

Recruiting isn’t just about getting good players (Carlon Brown, Will Clyburn, Marshall Henderson) but recruiting personalities. Boylen was dead awful at that.


Jerry Pimm ahead of Foster. No way one good year trumps a solid 10 year run. That 81 team was amazing. Should have been a Final Four.

Agreed. Pimm before Foster. I hadn’t noticed that Foster was ranked ahead of Pimm. That one is not a close call, IMO.

I got to attend the sweet 16 game between Utah and North Carolina in 1981. It was perhaps the most agonizing basketball game I’ve ever watched. Does anyone here remember Dean Smith’s “four corners“ offense? Argh.

Agreed on Pimm - no question.

If I recall, Pimm was the coach in '76 when Utah beat Kentucky the last time before the victory a few weeks ago?

BTW - my neighbor, a life long Kentucky fan, and alum, never fails to remind me that Utah has a BIG stake of fame over Kentucky - Utah was the first team to beat Kentucky on their home court in the new Rupp arena. I think my neighbor was a student, but regardless, was at that game, and has never forgotten Utah. According to him, although they were familiar with Utah from the results during the Gardner era, and beyond, NO ONE expected that year’s Ute team to come into Rupp Arena and beat the Wildcats. When they did, the entire arena went silently out with no comment (save the Ute team, coaches, and perhaps 40 Ute fans). Further, all the years, when Majerus lead teams faced the Wildcats in the tourney, he watched in fear of his team “inexplicably” falling to the Utes.

He and his family were at the game in Las Vegas last month… and well, he probably has another several years of Utah PTSD in store as a result.


Earl Williams made the last second shot in Rupp Arena to beat Kentucky, winning their tourney and a huuuuuge trophy. Earl.was an unlikely hero. A low fg percentage and scorer duri g his career. I remember congratulating him on a campus bus we both happened to ride one afternoon.

As for me putting Foster ahead of Pimm, I struggled with that. My rational was he did really well the short time he was here. Duke came after him and that was that. I really liked Pimm.


It’s not an unreasonable ranking. I’ve always wondered what Foster would have accomplished had he stuck around a little longer. Anyway, Pimm had a long tenure and a lot of success and really is a big part of Utah basketball lore, so that’s why I would go with him ahead of Foster. I probably am a little biased because Pimm was the head coach during all my time as a student at the U.


I was at the game as well, and I remember the four corners quite well and thinking, UNC just makes it so hard to make up ground on them. Ah, but for Karl Bankowski getting cold for the one game we really needed him to hit some shots…


One made shot from Karl is all we needed. So close, yet so far away.

I agree with your rankings exactly.

Jerry Pimm lived up the street from me when I was a little kid while he was coach here. I remember he drove a bright red car with a white roof (too young to know the model or whatever). He used to stop his car when I was out front shooting hoops and ask me if I’d come play for him at the U someday. I thought that was the coolest thing on earth.

Now that I think of it, I guess I could technically tell people I got a D1 b-ball offer when I was a kid. :wink:


A very tough point in that game was when Al Wood made the dunk over Chambers, giving Tom his 4th foul which sent him to the bench. That and Karl Bankowski having a very cold night (1 for 9 or something like that).

Was one of the greatest teams we’ve had. I remember that a week earlier on senior night against UTEP, when they pulled Vranes, Chambers, Scott Martin, and Bankowski off the floor, Don Haskins in a show of class and respect walked the length of the court to shake their hands. (Before the days of the post game handshakes they do now).


I was at that 1981 NCAA tourney game as well. Utah’s first possession Vranes posted down low, received the ball, spun around the defender (Sam Perkins, James Worthy, or Al Wood?) and scored it, which was subsequently waived off, hooking the defender.

Utah likewise used the four corners offense, during both the Matheny, Judkins, Jonas era, and to a slightly lesser extent the Chamber and Vranes era. One time while facing ranked UNLV at the Huntsman Center Utah has a modest lead with about five minutes left. Pimm wanted to force UNLV out of their mildly effective zone defense so he called for four corners, which the Utes used to perfection. The ball was being whipped around the edges of the half court, players cutting and screening. On the next four Ute possessions, after a minute of ball and player movement seemingly out of no where Chambers and Vranes each had two slam dunks, although I don’t remember the order. Tarkanian called time out, game set match.

That game was my first date with my wife (we just celebrated our 38th). To me it’s doubly unforgettable!


I could be wrong but I recall that Pimm ran a sort of modified four corners, i.e., he didn’t run it all game long. Didn’t Don Haskins do that? I recall UTEP games when neither team would score more than 35 points.

Lots of teams ran it. I remember a game between Wyoming and byu-provo where the final score was something like 23-20. UTEP definitely ran a slow down offense. The announcers would always say a 10 point lead by UTEP was the same as a 20 point lead by anyone else.

1 Like

Maybe it’s a fictional 4D chess thing, but I’ve always felt like Few sabotaged us with Giac on purpose so they could eliminate Utah as a strength in the inter-mountain west and lock down recruiting. Probably not, more likely just doing favors for a crony, but he was most certainly a bad hire . That said, I might have agree with LA on Boylen.

1 Like