On Monday, Ohio State announced that they were parting ways with head men’s basketball coach Thad Matta after 13 years.
As you could expect, this has created a firestorm of discussion about who will replace Matta. Ohio State is a good job in a [throws up a little in my mouth] good conference, so athletic director Gene Smith will, to a certain degree, have his choice of coaches to take on the challenge of putting the Buckeyes back into the NCAA tournament after missing out for the last two seasons.
It’s reasonable for every outlet that covers college basketball to put together a list of likely candidates, and thus, that’s what Zac Al-Khateeb did for The Sporting News. Al-Khateeb compiled a list of seven candidates, and it starts out pretty much like you’d expect: Xavier’s Chris Mack, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Butler’s Chris Holtmann, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin. You’ve probably seen those four names pop up in any discussion about the OSU job, and at the very least, if you’re Gene Smith, you have to make those guys tell you “no.”
Then the list gets weird.
Al-Khateeb next nominates Mike Brown, the current associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors who has been filling in during the NBA playoffs while Steve Kerr has been out with medical issues. Never you mind that Brown has been working in the NBA since graduating from college 25 years ago and has never had a college coaching job. Sure, why wouldn’t he decide to jump straight into the fire with absolutely zero recruiting experience?
Anyway, things get even weirder after that, as the next name on the list is [DRUMROLL] Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Steve Wojciechowski.
Wojciechowski has seen moderate success at Marquette in three seasons, coaching the Golden Eagles to a 52-45 record. Still, his team is coming off two seasons of at least 19 wins and made it to its first NCAA Tournament since 2013. Serving as an assistant under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski from 1999-2004 [sic] certainly helps as well.
Ok, so look. I learned my lesson about doubting connections to jobs the hard way, but this isn’t reporting, just speculation. While I’m happy with the current direction of the Marquette program, I think it’s safe to say it would be a major failure by Ohio State to decide to turf Matta in June, two months after the NCAA tournament ended, and end up hiring Wojo as the replacement. On top of that, it was a big deal when Wojciechowski’s name came up in connection to the Marquette job because he hadn’t been a regular candidate for a head coaching job before that. He has said in the past that he felt that Marquette was the right spot for him to make his foray into head coaching, and you can see why: Private school, small student body, heavy emphasis and support for success in basketball. There’s a lot of parallels between Marquette and Duke. Ohio State? Mmmmm, not so much.
AS IF THAT WAS NOT NUTTY ENOUGH, Al-Khateeb wraps up his list with Winthrop’s Pat Kelsey. You might remember Kelsey from being reported as the new Massachusetts head coach before backing out of it 30 minutes before his introductory press conference to return to Winthrop. I’m going to guess that he is not going to leave the Eagles twice in one off-season. Just guessing.
I’ll leave you with this, representative of my feelings towards seeing the Marquette head coach’s name getting kicked around for a vacant job for the first time in a while.