UPDATE: In a surprising turn of events, it appears that former Ohio State head basketball coach Thad Matta will not be taking over the University of Georgia program as expected. While the statement from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman doesn’t come out and say it, many will assume that Matta’s chronic back issues might have been the determining factor.
Either that, or he read our Matt Brown’s column on the topic.
Thad Matta on spurning Georgia: "It was the most difficult decision because Georgia is a tremendous opportunity for a coach to build a great program. Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that I am completely ready at this point to give Greg McGarity and Georgia what they deserve."— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 14, 2018
UPDATE: It looks like this could be happening. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein is reporting that the Georgia head coaching position has been offered to Thad Matta, and a decision should come in within the next 24 hours.
Georgia has offered its head coaching vacancy to former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, per multiple sources. Decision expected in the next 24 hours.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 13, 2018
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, the winningest men’s basketball coach in Ohio State history might be resurfacing after a year away from the game. Thad Matta is reportedly close to beginning discussions with the University of Georgia for its recently vacated head coaching position.
Former Ohio State HC Thad Matta is a serious candidate for the vacancy at Georgia, per multiple sources. Discussions between both sides could begin as early as today.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 11, 2018
Thad Matta spent 13 seasons as the head coach in Columbus, amassing an impressive 337-123 (.733) record, including one trip to the National Championship Game, two Final Four appearances, and (not for nothing) an NIT Tournament title. It wasn’t until his final season for the Buckeyes that Matta had his only campaign as a head coach in which he recorded fewer than 20 wins. That streak includes a season at Butler and three at Xavier.
Matta has also recently been linked to the head coaching positions at Ole Miss and Pittsburgh.
Mark Fox and Georgia parted ways over the weekend, ending his nine-year run in Athens. Fox went 163-133 (.551) in his time with the Bulldogs, getting bounced in the round of 64 in both of his NCAA Tournament appearances.
According to our friends at Dawg Sports, there are a number of interesting candidates to replace Fox, including Matta, former Indiana coach Tom Creen, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm, and more.
Less than nine months ago, Matta was fired by OSU athletic director Gene Smith, in part, because the recruiting standards that had led Matta to win five Big Ten titles were not being met. While it has rarely ever been said publicly, many assume that this decline in recruiting was due in part to Matta’s well-chronicled back issues.
However, having been able to relax and recuperate for a full season, the still-excitable, 50-year-old Matta could be what UGA needs to kickstart a program that has been an also-ran in the SEC for decades.
If, and when, Matta finds a new program to lead, we wish him the best of luck— except for if they ever face the Buckeyes.