Best Coach - 2008
John Speraw, UC Irvine Men's Volleyball
This year, Speraw gets our nod for many reasons. For starters, he's got two things that, say, Mike Scioscia (a perennial favorite in this category) doesn't. First, there's the NCAA Championship, which Speraw's setters, spikers and liberos (don't ask, it's complicated) won in 2007. Second, an Olympic gold medal. Speraw was an assistant coach on the Team USA squad that went undefeated at the 2008 Games, capping their run with a 3-sets-to-1 victory over heavily favored Brazil in the gold-medal match. But it's not just about the hardware. The team's entire, unlikely run came after head coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law had been stabbed to death in Beijing. Helping guide his team (and his head coach, once McCutcheon rejoined the team after a weeklong absence) to victory through such an emotionally wrenching journey was a tremendous achievement for Speraw, which we acknowledge here in our humble way. Thanks, Coach.