2019 Men’s NCAA Coach of the Year: Dave Durden, Cal
Dave Durden took the helm at Cal prior to the 2007-2008 season, and after initially finishing 4th at NCAAs each of his first two season, the Bears have been in the thick of the NCAA championship hunt every year since then, finishing in the top two each and every season.
Coming into the the 2018-2019, the Bears had been in a bit of a relative rough spot, having watched their arch-rival the Longhorns win each of the last four NCAA titles, but this year Durden coached Cal to a nearly-flawless performance that ranks among the greatest in NCAA history.
The team fired nearly on all cylinders. 13 of their 14 individual swimming qualifiers scored points, including ten different swimmers accounting for a total of 19 A-finals. The Bears had at least one A-finalist in every single swimming event, and earned multiple A-final spots in several events. The relays were on point too, with all five relays finishing in the top 3, and the 200 free relay earning 1st.
While Cal looked to have things decently in control after the second day, perhaps the biggest moment – and the one that Durden will forever be remembered for – came on the morning of the third day. Daniel Carr got to re-swim the 100 back after experiencing a malfunction with the starting system during prelims, and responded by dropping a 44.86 to earn a spot in the A-final. Durden was cheering Carr on, going generally nuts, slipping and falling on the pool deck in his excitement, but looking none the worse for wear.
Perhaps the most telling stat about Cal’s performance? Texas actually scored 26 more points in 2019 than they had when they won in 2018, but still lost by 85 points.
- Andy Grevers – Missouri: The Tigers experienced a tumultuous season as head coach Greg Rhodenbaugh was placed on leave beginning in the fall, reportedly due to Title IX investigations. As interim head coach, Grevers led Mizzou through the remainder of the season, culminating in 2nd place at SECs and a 11th place finish at NCAAs after finishing 23rd the year before.
- Bill Dorenkott – Ohio State: It can feel like “coach of the year” can be an award that’s given by default to one of the most improved teams, or a coach that seems to do the most with least, but it’s hard to ignore what the Buckeyes accomplished last season. After years of appearing to focus on Big Tens, the Buckeyes showed up in force at NCAAs, cracking the top ten with a 9th-place finish after finishing a mere 28th in 2018.
- Kevin Tyrrell – Harvard: Oftentimes, it’s not easy managing a team where you have a one huge standout swimmer like Dean Farris. Not only did Tyrrell guide Farris to historic performances, but he also got enough out of the rest of the team for Harvard to become the first Ivy League team to crack the top ten at NCAAs in 50 years.
- 2014 – Dave Durden, Cal
- 2016 – Eddie Reese, Texas
- 2017 – Eddie Reese, Texas
- 2018 – Ray Looze, Indiana