ESPN's Dan Dakich: 'Absolutely no reason' Lefty Driesell isn’t in Hall of Fame

Before the Maryland men's basketball team's 86-77 victory Saturday over Ohio State at Xfinity Center, a banner was raised in the honor of former coach Lefty Driesell.

Midway through the win, ESPN analyst (and, it should be noted, former coach) Dan Dakich raised a fuss.


Coming back from commercial in the first half, Dakich began the first of a good few minutes ranting about Driesell's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame credentials.

"Lefty Driesell made college basketball interesting out here in Maryland," he said. "When he came out, he was going to make ... Maryland the UCLA of the East.


"Now remember this: Lefty coached at Maryland at a time when only one team [from each conference] made the NCAA tournament, and he was great. There is absolutely no reason, none, that Lefty Driesell isn't in the Hall of Fame. When he retired from coaching, he was fourth all time in wins. [At] four different schools, he won over 100 games. Only coach to do that. Took four teams to the NCAA tournament.

"But more than that, he was an innovator. Len Elmore, our colleague, said … how Lefty Driesell was integral in integrating the [Atlantic Coast Conference], specifically here at Maryland. Lefty Driesell was the originator of 'Midnight Madness.' Lefty Driesell brought excitement to the game. Lefty Driesell absolutely started intense recruiting. The stories of Lefty recruiting Moses Malone are legendary.

"Lefty Driesell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and it's just sad that the Hall of Fame relies on so much politics that if the right guy doesn't say you should get in the Hall of Fame, then you don't get in the Hall of Fame. I'll give you an example: He wrote Coach [Bobby] Knight a scathing letter after Coach Knight accused him of cheating, and I kept the letter because it was awesome. And I'm all for Lefty Driesell, and I don't understand how he possibly could not be in the Hall of Fame."

"What else, Dan?" asked an amused Dave Flemming, Dakich's play-by-play partner.

"That's it," Dakich said. "I don't get on the soapbox, except for every other day, but, man, how is he not the in the Hall of Fame?"

Flemming didn't disagree, and as the game of basketball before them continued apace, they mentioned the Terps greats under Driesell who had come to support their old coach Saturday, from Albert King to Buck Williams.

"The problem with the Hall of Fame is, it's so political and provincial that you just want to throw up," Dakich continued. "But I tell you what, Lefty Driesell is a Hall of Famer. It angers me that he's not and some of these clowns that — well, not clowns — but some of these guys that get in."

(What I would have given for Dakich to start beefing with Hall of Famers on air.)


Toward the end of their back-and-forth, Flemming noted his sadness at seeing the highlights of Len Bias in Driesell's career retrospective. "Lefty would be in the Hall of Fame," he said, if not for his death because of a cocaine overdose.

"Well, that ended Lefty's career" at Maryland, Dakich said.

But it didn't end Dakich's stump speech.

"Now you schedule a bunch of bad teams, you win 30 games a year, make one run in the tournament, win a national championship, you're in the Hall of Fame," he concluded. "It wasn't that easy back in that man's day, and it's shameful that the people that run the Hall of Fame don't understand that, or if they do, because of politics, because he made people mad, they don't want to include him, which is ridiculous. He's a Hall of Famer, if there ever was one."