On Monday Ohio State shocked the college basketball world by relieving head coach Thad Matta of his duties this late into the offseason. Just like when any head coach of a major college program is fired, the sports media will throw out potential candidates to fill the job. When news first broke people where throwing out Xavier’s Chris Mack, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Butler’s Chris Holtmann and even newly hired Indiana coach Archie Miller as candidates. ESPN’s Dick Vitale took to Twitter Wednesday to provide the two names who he heard Ohio St may be looking to hire.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as Frank Martin is coming off an impressive run of taking the University of South Carolina to the Final Four and Ed Cooley has turned around the Friar program in the tune of four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. While I ultimately don’t think Ed Cooley would take the Buckeyes job, Friar Fans must recognize that it’s a real possibility that Cooley could take this job or any other big time job offered in the near future.
The two reasons why I don’t think Ed Cooley would take the Ohio State job is because of the timing of the job opening up and the momentum that Cooley has built with the PC program. Even though Thad Matta is an OSU coaching legend and probably didn’t deserve to be fired I think the most perplexing part of the whole decision is when it happened. Ohio St AD Gene Smith must’ve been too distracted by spring football to realize its June and kind of too late to fire your coach. All the top uncommitted recruits have found a home, most of the graduate and sit-out transfers have picked new schools and on top of that all the hot shot coaching candidates either took a new job or decided to stay with their schools. To me that’s a red flag right there that the AD would make a coaching changes this close to the start of a new season. Don’t tell me that Thad Matta’s health is why they just made the decision now because this was Gene Smith’s idea and Thad would’ve told you he would be coaching the 2017-2018 season a week ago. I am not questioning whether Matta has health issues, all I’m saying is it seems like a convenient excuse for Smith to let him go. To me Coach Cooley wouldn’t want to take a job this late into offseason and why would he? As of right now the PC basketball program is in better shape than Ohio State. At PC Cooley returns essentially the entire team that made the tournament last season and one of the better recruiting classes in the country. I don’t see him wanting pass up the opportunity to coach this group next season for an Ohio St roster that appears to be thin on talent. On top of that PC has roster flexibility to add a talented recruits next season and Cooley already appears to be on laying the foundation to have arguably his best recruiting class to date for 2018.
While the PC basketball program may be in better shape now then Ohio St, it wouldn’t totally shock me if Cooley were to accept a job like this. Friar fans must face the music and realize that Ed Cooley would have a better chance at winning a National Title at a school like Ohio St then he does PC. This is not to say Cooley couldn’t win one at PC, just look at Gonzaga and Mark Few, but he would have more resources to do so at Ohio St. According to the Dayton Daily News the football powerhouse had an athletic budget of $170 million in 2016 and if you Google their endowment it’s $3.579 billion. Those figures for PC dwarf in comparison. I know PC is in the process of building a state of the art practice facility but Ohio St already has one and their on campus arena sits more than the Dunk. If you look back at Cooley’s recruitment of Donovan Mitchell and Wenyen Gabriel, Cooley may not lose those battles if he’s at a bigger school like Ohio State. So when a job at a high profile school considers Cooley we shouldn’t be shocked or even fault Cooley if he were to accept.
If Dick Vitale’s tweet is true and Ohio St is targeting Frank Martin and Ed Cooley, I would expect Frank Martin to take the job. Martin doesn’t have any ties to South Carolina, as Coach Cooley does with Providence. Martin surprised many when he took the South Carolina job, leaving behind a Kansas St team that went to the Elite 8 just two seasons prior. Frank Martin also would have to rebuild South Carolina, as Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and PJ Dozier all left Columbia after the Final 4 run. It makes a ton of sense for Martin to take the job if offered. On the other side if that if Ohio State offered Ed Cooley the job, at this point he would turn it down. He’s got too good of a team this upcoming season to pass up coaching them. Cooley definitely wants to be in Friartown, as he is signed for a “lifetime” contract. The campus is improving greatly, I was there this past weekend for my 5-year reunion and the campus is gorgeous. I looked at the plans for the new Ruane Friar Development Center and the facility will be state of the art. Ed Cooley can definitely win a National Title at PC but in the future when huge schools like Ohio State want to interview Cooley, and he takes the job we really shouldn’t fault him because the resources they can offer compared to PC are much greater. The fact that Cooley’s name comes up is a testament to how good of a job he’s doing at PC. As a fan it makes me nervous that he could leave but we actually want Cooley’s name to come up in the openings. If Coach Cooley keeps kicking ass in Friartown then that fly on the wall is going to keep telling Dick Vitale that Ed Cooley is being considered.
During the time in which I started writing this post Creighton Coach Greg McDermott emerged as a serious candidate for the job. He was flown out to Columbus late last night to meet with AD Gene Smith and was later offered the job. Greg McDermott ended up turning it down today. Daddy McBuckets will be staying in Omaha. Should be interesting to see where Ohio St turns to next.