You could be forgiven for feeling down about this Ohio State coaching search.
The timing is all wrong, and the Buckeyes missed out on the obvious candidate, Archie Miller, who will now face the Buckeyes every season, making sure fans don’t forget what could have been. Ohio State’s roster is in shambles, with virtually no depth at point guard or center, and without enough scholarship bodies to even play five on five in practice.
That’s all true. But there’s one truth Ohio State fans and administrators would do well to remember.
This is still a really good job.
It’s a really good job in large part because of Thad Matta, who did nothing but win (well, except that last year) in Columbus. A pair of Final Fours. Five Big Ten regular season titles. Three Elite Eights. And most importantly, raised the expectations enough so that two consecutive seasons without making the NCAA Tournament was no longer acceptable. Lots of folks didn’t care about OSU hoops before Matta. They care enough to demand change now.
Thanks for everything you did for Ohio State University Men's Basketball, Thad.Posted by Land-Grant Holy Land - For Ohio State fans on Monday, June 5, 2017
But Ohio State is a solid job beyond just that recent success. This is one of the largest athletic departments in the country, one capable of paying $3 million, or more, to the right basketball coach, and giving them every resource, from fancy practice facilities to LeBron merchandise, that you could ever want. It’s located in Columbus, a city that produces an underrated amount of prep basketball talent, and in Ohio, a state that produces quite a bit. Without leaving Ohio or a connecting state, there’s enough talent to build quite a basketball team.
TV access? Ohio State hoops will be on ESPN, FOX, FS1, BTN, you name it. Tournament access? You’re in one of the best conferences in the country, but one that isn’t so top-heavy that you couldn’t make a run at winning the dang thing. Home gym? Sure, when Ohio State stinks, Value City Arena has all the charm and energy of an airplane hangar, but when the Buckeyes are good, the place can rock as hard as anywhere else in the conference.
It isn’t a basketball-first school, and never will be. But maybe that isn’t a bad thing, since the microscope and the pressure won’t be what it will be at a place like Indiana. What else could you want?
The timing is going to make this tricky, but Ohio State should remember that it’s Ohio State when it’s time to make those calls. Swing big. Call former Akron assistant coach Shaka Smart. Call Billy Donovan. Call Fred Hoiberg. Call Buzz Williams. Call Gregg Marshall. Lose Mike Brown’s phone number. Don’t answer his texts.
Will Ohio State get one of those guys? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe Ohio State doesn’t pull the trigger on Thad Matta, right now, if they don’t already have something in the works, or at least, a primary target.
If the Buckeyes swing and swing and swing and miss, and end up with say, Steve Forbes, while Archie Miller is cutting down nets, Gene Smith’s mostly excellent legacy at Ohio State will get a significant tarnish. But if they can secure a bigger name, then this entire awkward operation can be salvaged.
There are other solid candidates further down the list. Chris Mack or Chris Holtmann could be excellent coaches at Ohio State, in my humble opinion. But if you’re going to make a drastic move, letting one of the best coaches in the country go after it’s too late to do anything to the current recruiting class, it better be to make a big, bold move.
Ohio State should look to make one, and it isn’t crazy to expect one. There’s a lot to like about this job, even with the struggling roster. Jeff Goodman agrees, saying “and it shouldn't be difficult to lure someone with a strong resume.” Gregg Doyel at the Star went even further.
College basketball coaches have told me for years: Ohio State is one of the most coveted jobs in America. This could get crazy.— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) June 5, 2017
I’m not sure if I’d go quite that far, but that’s the right attitude to have.
This is a good gig. Let’s hope Ohio State gets somebody that demonstrates that. He’ll have some awfully big shoes to fill.