I’ve been keeping an eye on Bright House Sports Network’s top coaches countdown for the past couple of weeks.
I first heard about the countdown after I put together my list of the top 10 coaches in Polk County. Drew Fellios of BHSN posted a tweet about a week after that announcing their upcoming list of the top coaches in the Tampa Bay area (in no way am I saying they copied my idea, I think we all came up with our ideas coincidentally around the same time).
Anyway, they started the countdown last week, revealing one coach each day and starting at No. 20. They have now worked their way to No. 13, and the first Polk County coach has made it onto the countdown.
Bartow boys basketball coach Terrence McGriff, who guided the Yellow Jackets to the Class 5A state title in 2010, gets the honors. I’m thrilled to see any Polk coach make the list, but coach McGriff was definitely one of my favorites to cover while at The Ledger and it’s awesome to see him recognized around the area.
BHSN says that it is taking more into consideration than just wins and losses, including how “Life-Changing” the coach is and whether they are a prominent figure in their community.
And really, if coach McGriff had achieved just a little more on-court success in his 10 years at Bartow (the first couple of years started a little slowly), I think he could be in the top five. I don’t know of another coach who instills as much dignity and life lessons into his players. One of my favorite stories is when the team was recognized at the annual All Sports banquet, coach McGriff made sure every member of the team was there (a feat in itself), and that they were all in shirts and ties. It made an impression on more people than just me.
As much as coach McGriff produces quality players and mature men, he also pushes them extremely hard. He’s confident and sometimes brash, but he’s talented and also honest. If his team wasn’t clicking and his players needed to improve, he’d tell me. If they were simply beat by a better team, he’d tell me that, too.
So, in short, this is a very well-deserved honor for coach McGriff. I can’t wait to see which other Polk County coaches make it on after him!
Makes it tough to predict who they will put on the list with grey area like “taking more into consideration than just wins and losses.” That opens the list up to a subjective bonanza, and while I am not trying to not BHSN, that seems to be perfect. I follow their “unique” coverage when it comes to football, and I don’t know how they come up with their “Game of the Week.”
That being said, I can expect (and surely hope) that Coach Rutenbar and Coach Castle will make this list due to longevity, quality of program, and being figureheads/icons in the community. I also think Robert Weiner (Plant) should probably make the list. As far as I am concerned, Joe Kinnan (Manatee) and Paul Maechtle (Bradenton Southeast) definitely need to be on this list. You will not find a better molder of men and true program builder (especially Athletic Director) than Coach Kinnan. Coach Maechtle has a high pedigree too with lots of success on the field and preparing players for college, life, etc.
My apologies for leaving out my congratulations to Coach McGriff. I do agree that he deserves this for the program he has built at Bartow.