The fashion craze began in 1998, when Wagner head coach Tim Capstraw thought it would be fun to rate some of America's most stylish coaches. Coaches and fans enjoyed the off-beat approach, which concluded with Hofstra head coach Jay Wright being crowned the Best-Dressed coach in America.
Due to popular response, Capstraw followed up with his second feature on College Basketball's style mavens in 1999. Once again, Jay Wright walked away with the title of America's best-dressed.
In 2000, Capstraw left coaching and moved onto radio and TV and the feature was handed to CollegeInsider.com's Angela Lento who renamed it --- "The Runway to the Fashionable 4.”
Lento had periodic features throughout the season, culminating in a 64-coach bracket in the same ‘fashion’ as the NCAA Tournament. Coaches and fans across the country immediately embraced the concept, as fashionable coaches were paired off against one another.
Former Lehigh head coach Sal Mentesana emerged from the tournament as the best-dressed coach in America and Mentesana's stroll on the catwalk was chronicled in John Feinstein's book, "The Last Amateurs."
2001 saw the introduction of the Fashion Power Index or the FPI, as a formula to rate the stylish coaches throughout the season. The interest in the now season-long feature reached another level, as countless feature articles appeared in newspapers and periodicals across the country.
With UMass coach Bruiser Flint a fixture in Top 5, the FPI became a regular topic of discussion during the weekly Atlantic 10 coach’s teleconference. A-10 media relations director Ray Cella would engage coaches on Flint’s ranking, as well as other stylish coaches in the conference.
That season also marked the first time that assistant coaches would compete for the title of America's most stylish understudy. Wofford assistant coach Mike Young (now the head coach) was given the honor of most majestic.
By 2002 "The Runway to the Fashionable 4" had become a favorite among coaches and fans alike, with ESPN's Rece Davis and NBA All-Star Jalen Rose being regular followers of the fashion madness. Angela Lento appeared on countless radio shows to talk basketball and style, including an appearance on ESPN Radio with Rece Davis and Andy Katz.
In the years that followed analysts like Jay Bilas (ESPN) and Seth Greenberg (ESPN) served as hosts of the event and provided insight and analysis for the catwalk competition.