Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is about embark upon a national search to hire Thad Matta’s replacement — and the situation is certainly unusual.
Not only is it unusual because of the timing (a June 5 ouster) but also because Matta will be helping with the search, too, which might perhaps give an edge to candidates from the Matta coaching tree.
Or maybe it won’t. It’s hard to predict these things right out of the gate sometimes … but that won’t stop us from speculating.
MAKING A CHANGE: Thad Matta out as coach at Ohio State
The conversation should begin with Chris Mack, who followed Sean Miller who followed Matta at Xavier and is considered one of the top young coaches in the sport. Archie Miller, who left Dayton for Indiana earlier this year, would likely have been the Buckeyes’ original prime target; he was an assistant to Matta from 2007 to 2009.
If we extrapolate a bit, and like Smith said in a news conference Monday, consider the importance of recruiting success in the Midwest, we can cast a wider net to include Butler’s Chris Holtmann, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall.
A few stray points:
► Arizona’s Sean Miller is a former Matta assistant and will be a name you’ll see attached to this job as a dream hire. Don’t expect it to come close to fruition. Miller has what might be the preseason No. 1 team in the country entering the year, and he would not welcome the idea of having to face his brother multiple times a year in conference play.
► Former Indiana coach Tom Crean is on the market, which doesn’t necessarily mean he will get a look for this opening. But he’s available, and this is a very, very late coaching search after all.
► A couple of long shots, though worth keeping in mind: Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg and Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan. If either one chooses to return (or is nudged to return) to college basketball at any point, he will be a highly sought after commodity. And Donovan spent years at Florida alongside current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. Just sayin’.