If the Lady Bulldogs beat Ole Miss on Sunday in Oxford, there will be no special reports on ESPN lauding the accomplishments of Georgia coach Andy Landers. There won’t be any 72-point headlines in newspapers.
But as far as his employers are concerned, Landers will have achieved something pretty special. UGA will count the victory as No. 900 in Landers’ coaching career.
However, the NCAA will count it as win number 818. College athletics’ governing body does not recognize Landers’ 82 wins at Roane State, the junior college he coached at for four years before starting the program at Georgia 34 years ago. But UGA counts them all.
“We look at all the wins during his career,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. “There are certain parameters the NCAA looks at but, regardless, we feel like we’ve got one of the best coaches in the history of the women’s game. He’ll take care of it one way or another. He’ll join those other outstanding individuals soon enough.”
Landers has been Georgia’s women’s basketball coach for 34 years. On Nov. 20th, the school recognized him for his 800th victory at the school after the Lady Bulldogs’ defeated Savannah State 94-57. Landers, who is already in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, has a framed UGA No. 800 jersey still propped up on the floor in the hallway to his office inside the Stegeman Practice Facility.
That in itself put Landers in some lofty territory. Retired Tennessee coach Pat Summitt is the winningest women’s basketball coach of all time with 1,098. On Feb. 7, North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell recorded win No. 900 and Texas coach Jody Conradt retired with 900 victories in 2007.
Meanwhile, Rutgers’ Vivian Stringer has been stuck on 899 for four games. She was denied again Saturday in a loss at St. Johns.
Officially, Landers went into the weekend with a record of 817-72, which is ninth all time among women’s basketball coaches. But there is a good argument that at least some of Landers’ victories at Roane State should count toward his NCAA victory total. After all, his junior college team was 30-1 against four-year colleges.
“The only reason we lost the one is my best player got kicked out for punching a kid in the nose,” Landers said.
Conversely, several victories counted for coaches that rank ahead of Landers came against junior college teams that lost to their four-year schools.
“That was about the only place women’s basketball was played back than, junior colleges and business schools,” Landers said. “Nashville Business School had a team that could beat anybody.”
But Landers states emphatically he does not care what the record shows.
“I get it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not trying to make a case. What are they going to do, put me in the hall of fame again?”
Actually the Roane State team Landers left behind in Tennessee was better than the one he inherited in 1979. But he built the Lady Dogs into a perennial NCAA power, with Final Four appearances, one national championship game and 23 NCAA tournaments. Landers was inducted into the women’s basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Lady Dogs are 22-4 this season (10-3 SEC) and Landers’ average of 24.4 wins per year is fourth among active coaches.
“Sometimes I think we take him for granted a little bit,” senior guard Jasmine James said. “You don’t go in on a daily basis thinking this is a hall of fame coach. You just go to practice and hear what he says and you take it in. But when you take a step back you realize you’re playing for a legend and that’s a great thing.”