Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ohio State fires Thad Matta

I was prepping a post series that would look at Tebow Mania in Hagerstown and my four game,four cities,two day trip to North Carolina before the news broke that Ohio State had relieved head basketball coach Thad Matta of his job and the Buckeyes would be looking for a replacement for the 2017-18 season.

Matta leaves Columbus at the age of 50, having both rebuilt the ailing Ohio State basketball program upon his arrival along presiding over its demise with two less than strong seasons,a poor 17-15 record last year that wasn't enough to even get into the NIT and recruiting became worse and worse as Matta's health became a recruiting liability.
Matta entered Columbus with a roar as he won 20 with a probationary team with lesser talents,but followed up with teams that made the national title game,a final four,another elite eight and in the only season before the last two seasons that saw Ohio State not make the tournament-won the NIT,along with becoming the all time wins leader in program history.
However,Ohio State fell to 21-14 in 2015-16 with a second round exit from the NIT,followed it up with the aforementioned 17-15 that was followed up by lost recruiting commitments and the eventual release of Matta.

The bigger question is why now?
I would have likely understood this move at the end of the last season,but now?
It's going to be tough (unless Gene Smith has an NBA guy in mind) to bring a top notch,name coach in at this time and Ohio State would have been a tough place to turn down for most coaches in March,but in June?
What was the major change between March and June that Gene Smith felt that this change needed to be done now rather than the end of the 17-18 season?
Was this about Matta's recruiting falling down?
Did Matta stretch this out in order to have an assistant get this job for a year?
Was this about finances and those issues needed to be ironed out first and might that decision bite the Buckeyes in bringing in a big name coach?

I wish I had the real answers to any of those questions,but the issue now is who is brought in?
The list I keep hearing seems like a pipedream with names like Billy Donovan,Brad Stevens and Sean Miller being mentioned,but I wonder about a few of these guys that might be a good fit.
Chris Mack of Xavier makes lots of sense having grew up in Cleveland and coached in Cincinnati,but Xavier should be strong next year and Mack might be considered too close to Matta.
Mick Cronin of Cincinnati could be a candidate,but he's only been as far as the sweet 16 once.
Gregg Marshall of Wichita State would be my top choice,but Marshall makes as much at Wichita State as Matta made,Marshall would likely take even more with a top ten returning in the Shockers.
Chris Holtmann of Butler is a name mentioned as a hot young coach,but wouldn't be the splashy hire that Ohio State is supposedly looking for and the same goes for the oft-mentioned Buzz Williams of Virginia Tech,who wins but lacks the same zip as bigger names and reputations.

I never was much of a Thad Matta fan,even though he coached for two of my favorite schools,but he still caught a bad break here.
Matta was led to believe he was going to get another year or two to revamp the program and that turned into less than three months,so it is tough not to feel a little bad for Matta.
However,it's tough to argue against the move-the program has clearly fallen backwards,the recruiting battles were being lost and it was pretty tough to see Matta being able to stem the tide,so it's not the move itself,it is the timing that makes little sense.
I'm willing to wait until the new hire though before final judgement...

Back later with some thoughts on Tebow Mania...

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