We are taking on the virtually impossible task of ranking the top 25 Cal coaches alltime in all sports.
So how do you compare an Andy Smith, who coached football in the 1920s, to a Teri McKeever, Cal's current women's wimming coach? Well, you do the best you can, then duck for cover.
We will count down our Cal coaching rankings from No. 25 to No. 1, with five coaches presented each day. Today we present coaches ranked 21st through 25th in ascending order.
Each group of five coaches includes one video interview of a coach. In this segment, the video interview is provided by Rich Feller, a longtime Cal women's volleyball coach.
25. LINDSAY GOTTLIEB, women's basketball
Lindsay Gottlieb wears her emotions on her sleeve and readily puts her aspirations on display. In 2013, she guided Cal to its first and only conference title since Cal joined the Pac-10 in women’s basketball in 1986-87. She also led the Bears to their first and only Final Four appearance.
In June 2019, she left the comforts of her Cal job and accepted a pay cut to join the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff and become the first NCAA women’s head coach to be hired to the coaching staff of an NBA team.
After she delivered her first scouting film session to the Cleveland players, Cavs forward Tristan Thompson gave her a fist bump.
The Gottlieb File:
Sport: Women’s basketball
Cal tenure: 2011-12 through 2018-19
Record: 179-89 in 8 seasons
Championships: 2013 Pac-12 title (tied), 2013 Final Four
Other achievements: Won at least 20 games in 7 of her 8 seasons; 7 NCAA tournament berths in 8 seasons, and won at least one postseason game in 6 seasons.
Honors: 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year; 1 of 4 finalists for 2013 Naismith National Coach of the Year.
24. BARRY WEINER, men's gymnastics
From a 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article on Barry Weiner:
He performed circus acts in New Jersey for seven years and traveled to such places as Greece and Japan, where he said 100,000 people outside Tokyo once saw the show. The fire dive required the biggest setup of his circus career.
"You'd put on a soaking wet sweat suit with a hood," Weiner said. "You'd drape a gasoline-soaked towel over your shoulders. We had a torch on a pulley. They'd pull it up the pulley. I'd wait until I heard a 'poof' (of fire) because you couldn't look back.
"Then they'd throw gasoline on the water. Usually the splash would put the fire out. I can remember sometimes when I was under water, I was still lit, so I had to go under again."
Then he became a gymnastics coach
The Weiner file:
Sport: Men’s gymnastics
Cal tenure: 1991-92 through 2009-10
Record: 266-111-1 in 19 seasons
Championships: 2-time national champion (1997, 1998); 3-time conference champion (1996, 1998, 2004)
Other achievements: 11 top-5 national finishes; 14 individual NCAA champions; 90 All-Americans; 4 undefeated seasons (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001).
Honors: 2-time National Coach of the Year (1997, 1998); 6-time MPFS Coach of the Year.
23. NORT THORNTON, men's swimming
“Nort Thornton, the great coach from Cal, was another inquisitive coach. He never stopped reading and learning, trying out new ideas every season. Nort was a deep thinker, very intelligent, always questioning the establishment.”
-- Words of 10-time world-record-holder Gary Hall Jr. on Nort Thornton in a 2018 article in Swim Swam.
The Thornton file:
Cal tenure: 1974-75 through 2006-07
Record: 231-85 in 33 seasons
Championships: 2-time national champion (1979, 1980); 2-time conference champion (1980, 1981)
Other achievements: 15 top-5 national finishes; top-10 ranking in 28 of 33 seasons; 48 individual and relay NCAA champions
Honors: 2-time National Coach of the Year; 4-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year; American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame; International Swimming Hall of Fame
22. RICH FELLER, women's volleyball
Rich Feller, on what makes a great coach, from The Art of Coaching Volleyball:
“It’s really understanding the talent that they have to work with. In different levels, they may not have a lot of choices on who they have on their team. They get what’s there in their area, or in their high school region or in their club region. And not being so strict, so straight line in your style of coaching that you can’t coach athletes that aren’t capable of doing maybe what you may have done a year ago or two years ago with different athletes. So being a little bit adaptable, being understanding of what the level is that you have to coach, and make sure that you accommodate every athlete you have and bring out the best in them, but understand that [if you] try to make them do things they’re not capable of doing, the frustration level will just rise and probably the learning will go down, and you will probably lose those people from your program at some point."
Cal had had seven consecutive losing seasons before Feller arrived at Cal, and the Bears had gone 3-15 in the conference in each of the three years before Feller became head coach.
The Rich Feller video:
The Feller file:
Sport: Women’s volleyball
Cal tenure: 1999-2000 through 2016-17
Record: 329-229 in 18 seasons
Championships: 2010 Pac-12 title (tie); 2010 NCAA runnerup; 2007 Final Four
Other achievements: 12 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (2002-2013); 4 NCAA Elite Eight appearances; 6 Sweet 16 appearances; 17 All-Americans; 4 times among top 8 in final AVCA rankings, including No. 2 in 2010; 2010 National Player of the Year Carli Lloyd; 2009 Pac-12 Player of the Year Hana Cutura
Honors: 2010 AVCA National Coach of the year; 2007 and 2010 Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year; 2003 and 2010 conference coach of the year; 2-time assistant coach of U.S. National team.
21. WALTER CHRISTIE, men's track and field
The Stanford Daily report on Walter Christie being named the 1924 U.S. Olympic track coach in charge of field events:
The appointment of Coach Christie to the Olympic Games committee was more or less expected by track devotees of the country. He is considered as one of the leading track coaches in the country. It was mostly through his excellent coaching that California won the I.C.A.A.A.A. track meet three consecutive times.
In May 1963, members of teams he coached at Cal dedicated a stone bench in his memory. The stone is located at Edwards Field and is engraved with the words of his motto: “My heart and soul for California.”
The Christie file:
Sport: Men’s track and field
Cal tenue: 1990-01 through 1931-32
Record: 81-42 in 32 seasons
Championships: 1922 NCAA title; 3 ICAAAA titles (1921, 1922, 1923); 6 conference titles (1919-23, 1925)
Other achievements: 1924 U.S. Olympic coach—he selected and handled the field-event athletes that would participate in the Paris Olympics. Americans won gold medals in 7 of the 10 Olympic field events in 1924 and recorded sweeps in two events.
Honors: Cal athletics Hall of Fame; Cal’s original track was called the Walter Christie Running Track, and the award for the most outstanding performance by a men’s and women’s track athlete each year is called the Walter Christie Award.
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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