Syracuse lacrosse head coach John Desko stands out among coaching peers

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Desko has built an impressive resume at Syracuse

Syracuse men’s lacrosse coach John Desko has come under fire in recent years because, well, he hasn’t won a national title since 2009.

There have been shocking first-round tournament losses: Army in 2010 and Bryant in 2014. And the team’s struggles in recent years on defense and at the faceoff X have been well documented.

But consider this: Since taking over from Hall of Fame coach Roy Simmons Jr. in 1999, Desko has pocketed 211 wins and five national championships in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2009. He also has the highest winning percentage among active coaches at .762 (211 wins and 66 loses).

» Related: What Syracuse’s new AD needs to know about Syracuse lacrosse

How does he rank among his peers in Division I?

Winningest active coaches by percentage

Wins Losses Percentage Years coaching
1. John Desko, Syracuse 211 66 .762 17
2. Bill Tierney, Denver 355 118 .751 31
3. Dom Starsia, Virginia 368 141 .723 33
4. Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins 192 79 .708 18
5. Mike Pressler, Bryant 330 159 .675 31
6. Jeff Tambroni, Penn State 149 73 .671 15
7. John Danowski, Duke 359 177 .670 33
8. Kevin Corrigan, Notre Dame 275 138 .666 29
9. Charles Toomey, Loyola 97 50 .660 10
10. Scott Nelson, Binghamton 251 145 .634 28

Winningest active coaches by wins

Wins Losses Percentage
1. Dom Starsia, Virginia 368 141 .723
2. John Danowski, Duke 359 177 .670
3. Bill Tierney, Denver 355 118 .751
4. Mike Pressler, Bryant 330 159 .675
5. Bob Shillinglaw, Delaware 322 302 .516
6. Kevin Corrigan, Notre Dame 275 138 .666
7. Scott Nelson, Binghamton 251 145 .634
8. Don Zimmerman, UMBC 233 161 .591
9. John Desko, Syracuse 211 66 .762
10. Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins 192 79 .708

Most national championships, all time

1. Bill Tierney, Denver 7
2. Roy Simmons Jr., Syracuse 6
3. John Desko, Syracuse 5
4. Dom Starsia, Virginia 4
5. Henry Ciccarone, Johns Hopkins 3
5. Don Zimmerman, Johns Hopkins 3
5. Willie Scroggs, North Carolina 3
5. Richie Moran, Cornell 3
5. John Danowski 3

Winningest active coaches in NCAA championship by percentage

Wins Loses Percentage
1. John Desko, Syracuse 32 11 .744
2. Bill Tierney, Denver 41 17 .707
3. John Danowski 27 14 .659
4. Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins 24 13 .649
5. Dom Starsia, Virginia 36 22 .621

Winningest active coaches in NCAA championship by wins

Wins
1. Bill Tierney, Denver 41
2. Dom Starsia, Virginia 36
3. John Desko, Syracuse 32
4. John Danowski 27
5. Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins 24

So when anyone asks whether Desko is still the right person to lead the Orange, show them the stats. He’s still one of the best coaches in the game. Five national championships and 211 wins in 17 seasons isn’t too shabby. Give him time, he’s sure to pocket more titles, plenty more wins and climb up even higher on these lists.

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Dan Brannigan

About Dan Brannigan

Dan is currently the editor of Common Ground magazine for Community Associations Institute (CAI) where he has won an Association Media & Publishing award for newswriting. Dan has also won a New England Press Association award while working for the The Inquirer and Mirror in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he grew up. Dan is a 2005 Syracuse University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @djbranni.
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