Thad Matta is OUT at Ohio State — those 2 Final Fours and 5 regular season Big Ten titles in 13 years were not enough to keep that axe from swinging.
And now Ohio State AD Gene Smith is looking for a big time replacement, even if this gig is not as good as he or Buckeye fan think it is.
It’s a good gig. But you are never going to convince anyone, especially the guy they do hire that Ohio State ISN’T a football school first, second and third.
And as for Smith, I’m sure like every other A.D. in the country, he has that index card with the five guys he would target if in fact, he would ever have whack his own. Problem is, the first name on that list obviously was Archie Miller. And because Smith waited as long as he did to fire Matta, and this is a firing, Indiana beat Ohio State to Miller.
So not only do they lose the guy they surely wanted, they lose him to an in-conference rival. If you’re going to fire your coach, then fire him in a timely manner, don’t let him twist and go get the guy you want… But he didn’t… And Buckeye fans are pissed that Smith missed on Miller.
Especially given the problems Matta was battling physically… He’s only 49 but sounds like he’s 80 years older given his health problems… He had back surgery 9 years and 354 days ago; he remembers it to the day… and when you listen to him describe it, it’s a miracle he lasted this long: “ I went through a year where I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t take my shoes off after a game, I couldn’t take my pants off after a game. I’d have to crawl up in a ball, that’s why I was always late for the media stuff and that’s why I said just the stuff I’ve had to go through in terms of being serviceable but maybe to a fault I always fought.”
That’s a 49-year old man. And he’s taking pills to coach. Pills to not coach. He’s late for media sessions because he’s curled up in a ball trying to get his shoes off and clothes changed.
Now let’s not spin this. If Matta won more than 17 games last year, if he was above .500 in Big Ten play, he’d still be grinding his way through this. If he held on to recruits and didn’t have the roster turnover he did, they’d be looking to talk him into staying not leaving. So to call this anything other than a firing isn’t right.
That’s fine. It’s a results oriented business, and Matta was no longer getting them… but if you’re going to fire him and you know it, do it swiftly and cleanly and give yourself the best opportunity to get the best available replacement.
Again, Archie Miller was the guy.. . and they’ll be reminded of it every time they face Indiana going forward, because you know he’s going to kill it there.
And since this got away from Smith, he’s going to have to somehow make it right. Someone convince a big time coach that it is a big time program and that Ohio State isn’t just a football school.
There are quality guys out there; question is, are any of them as good of a it as Archie Miller was and will Smith be able to get any of them to say yes.