Legendary coach Bill Tierney has decided to call it quits after the 2023 Lacrosse season. Tommy Burch takes a look back at his career and analyzes why he was so good.
Bill Tierney – An Illustrious Career
To the dismay of the entire Lacrosse community, the incredible coaching genius, Bill Tierney, has announced his retirement after the 2023 season. It was somewhat expected once he hit the big 70, but it was surprising nonetheless.
Coach Tierney has been one of the most winning college coaches in the history of the sport, with an array of championships that puts him on an elite pedestal. With such a great career coming to an end, we must take a look back at his accomplishments and give him the respect he deserves.
Tierney started his career as a player, playing Lacrosse for Cortland State. His greatest accomplishment as a player was earning a USILA National Championship, and he went on to complete his degree at Adelphi University.
After a high school coaching debut with two different schools, he went on to coach the Rochester Insitute of Technology. RIT became a powerhouse at the Division III level, winning the DIII Coach of the Year in 1983.
The Legacy Begins
After a couple of years as an assistant for John Hopkins, he signed on as the head coach for the Princeton Tigers. From 1971 until 1987, the Tigers had only 5 winning seasons, with their best record being 8-5. Coach Tierney had some work to do, and it would take some time.
His first season was not good, starting at 2-13. However, they jumped up 4 wins the next year, and the promise was made. 1990 is when everything changed, and Princeton Lacrosse was on the map. The team earned its first DI national playoffs appearance, even if they lost in the quarterfinals.
In Coach Tierney’s 22 seasons as head coach of the Tigers, they missed the NCAA playoffs in only 4 of them. His Princeton team won an incredible 6 national championships, including a completely undefeated season in 1997. Between the 1996 and 1998 seasons, he completed a threepeat of championships with only 2 losses spread between all three years.
A Fitting End
After an incredible reign of coaching for the Tigers, Tierney made the move to Denver University as the newest head coach. Unlike the Tigers, Denver was fairly successful before Tierney got there, although not to a tremendous extent. Once he entered the program, it changed forever.
During his first year at the school, he tied the team’s best season win-loss record at 12-5, diverting the course of Denver Lacrosse from winning seasons to championships. Following a similar trend to Princeton, in 11 coaching seasons (disregarding 2020) he brought the team to 10 playoff births and a championship.
What He Has Accomplished
In the end, Tierney became one of the best coaches in the game. His career record was 429-147, which puts him at a winning percentage of almost 75%. His 429 wins puts him at 4th all-time in Lacrosse coaching history, with the coaches at No. 3 and No. 2 coaching for two more seasons than him.
He ended his career with 7 NCAA DI championships and two DI coach of the year awards. In 2002, he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, Coach Tierney is one of the best coaches in Lacrosse history, and his career must be celebrated.