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Saturday, July 03, 2004

More on the Ohio State Head Coaching Job

Good article by Andy Katz on espn.com yesterday regarding Ohio State AD Andy Geiger's process and who the four candidates are (I'd give you a link, but SportsProf has been a miserable failure in linking to espn.com).

The four candidates are:

Rice coach Willis Wilson
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings
Lakers' assistant Jim Cleamons
Penn coach Fran Dunphy.

Apparently, Geiger interviewed all 4 candidates last week, and Wilson and Stallings, according to Katz, said that the interviews went well.

You'll recall (or, maybe you won't) that in the mid-1980's then Stanford AD Geiger brought a relatively unknown (but successful in the Big Sky Conference) coach Mike Montgomery to the Farm, and, well, next to Duke's hiring of Coach K in 1980, that hiring turned out to be perhaps the best college basketball coach hiring of the past 25 years (along with Kentucky's hiring of Tubby Smith). Are there any parallels here? How will Andy Geiger draw on his experience with the Cardinal to help the Buckeyes?

Wilson comes from a great academic school, but his results have not been so stellar, about .500, so selling Wilson in Columbus could be hard, even if Rice has played in a conference whose schools don't require the academic rigor that Rice does. Stallings works at a great academic school in a conference whose stress on academics leaves a lot to be desired. But he's been established for a while, and, as Katz points out, Vandy is trying hard to sign Stallings to a contract extension. It's hard to fathom the attraction to Cleamons, because he hasn't been in the college game for a while. The attraction to Dunphy is obvious; Penn is a great academic school, and Dunphy's teams not only have excelled in the Ivies, they also have beaten some good non-Ivy competition.

From among this bunch it doesn't look like there is another Mike Montgomery, which is probably too bad for both Andy Geiger and Ohio State. That's not to say that these coaches aren't good coaches (they are), but the pool that they form doesn't come from the same creative thinking that Geiger used to find Montgomery in the mid-1980's.

Others have declined to interview, according to Katz, such as St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli and Notre Dame mentor Mike Brey. Again, well-established coaches, but neither is up and coming.

The bet here is that Ohio State will throw a big enough compensation package to land Stallings, who will have a better chance of winning a national title in Columbus than he would in Nashville. If the Buckeyes fail to land Stallings, then the bet is Fran Dunphy, who can't be a runner-up forever.

But who else could be out there that could capture Geiger's imagination? A coach from a mid-major, who has done wonders with less, and who has led his team to titles and who plays by the rules. Isn't there anyone out there who fits that bill?

Isn't there someone at a Ball State, a Utah State, a Monmouth, a Western Kentucky, a Lehigh who can turn heads? It says here that there is, and that perhaps Andy Geiger should also think outside the box.

He might just find the next Mike Montgomery.

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