It’s incredible how much longer the leash is for college basketball coaches as compared to college football coaches. Thad Matta’s Ohio State Buckeyes are going to miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and are in the midst of a subpar four-year run in which they have only advanced in the postseason as far as the Round of 32 of the Big Dance.
That’s unacceptable for a program of Ohio State’s stature, yet Matta’s job security isn’t being questioned. Matta has had a great run at Ohio State, taking the team to two Final Fours and winning a handful of Big Ten regular season and tournament titles since taking over in Columbus in 2004. However, if the head coach of the Ohio State football team endured a four-year stretch like that of Matta’s he would be shown the door.
But this is college basketball. It’s the one-and-done era, so recruiting is much more difficult, and there are many measuring sticks in college basketball that determine whether or not the season was successful. At top-tier football programs, it’s all about conference titles and national championships.
In college basketball, there are potential successes scattered here and there throughout the season. That’s why Matta still has his job. Because there’s still plenty of upside to him being in charge, and, needless to say, college basketball doesn’t create nearly the revenue that college football does, with the exception of Duke and a few other outliers. So it’s not necessarily a pressing matter to experience an immediate turnout in men’s basketball like it would be in football at Ohio State.
Adding to the Buckeyes’ struggles has been a dip in recruiting. While Matta once landed some of the best recruits in the country (Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jared Sullinger, etc.) on a regular basis, other than D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State hasn’t landed any stellar commits during its recent lull.
And the reason for that may be an underhanded recruiting lie that Matta found out about through the grapevine. Speaking to the media earlier this week, Matta detailed some fairly hilarious, yet somewhat alarming, recruiting tidbits. The feature story involved an unnamed coach from another school who once lied and told a recruit that Matta was terminally ill in order to end the commit’s interest in the Buckeyes.
So perhaps that’s the issue. Unfounded rumors regarding the coach (who looks eerily like a Muppet) could be leading to the downfall of the Ohio State basketball program.
Regardless, Matta is indeed in perfect health and likely not looking to hang up his coaching whistle any time soon. However, if the Buckeyes don’t seriously compete for the Big Ten title again within the next year or two, Coach Matta could be forced to deal with untrue recruiting trail rumors elsewhere. Because The Ohio State University boasts too proud of an athletics program to not be among the Big Ten’s elite in any sport, let alone one as significant as men’s basketball.