Our Twitter has recently been abuzz about whether Ohio State is a step up from Xavier as a program. (It isn’t). With Greg McDermott feeling the same way about Creighton, the Buckeyes abandoned the lofty Billy Donovan, Brad Stevens type goals that their fawning Ohio media had set for them and came crawling back to Chris Holtmann this morning with an eight year deal rumored to be worth around $3 million per year. There are, of course, some takeaways to be had from this.
Ohio State isn’t a top tier job
Top level jobs don’t end up going to the sixth person on the initial list, nor do they give away contracts that clearly reflect the incoming coach had all the leverage. Prior to Thad Matta’s arrival on scene, the last time Ohio State had been in the Sweet Sixteen without cheating was 1992, they hadn’t been in a Final Four since 1968. Matta, as despicable as his departure was, took the program to the cusp of the top. They aren’t quite there yet.
The Big East is gaining cred
Who are the best three coaches in the Big East? It’s debatable, but an argument could be made that it is Jay Wright, Chris Mack, and Doug McDermott. Chris Holtmann and Steve Alphabet in Marquette certainly form the second tier, with Chris Mullin leading amongst coaches most likely to sit on the scorer’s table and eat an ice cream cone. OSU was never getting Wright as he’s at a legitimate national championship contender every year. That left them with Mack and McDermott from the Big East’s top group to go after. Both of those guys made it clear they weren’t interested in going anywhere. That means that one of the largest programs in the Big Ten had to dip down to the second level of the Big East to get their man. That’s saying something.
This isn’t 15 years ago
Back when Thad Matta landed at X (who got him from Butler), Xavier was not considered the top team in Ohio. When the Buckeyes came calling, duplicitously, Matta left. Fast forward to now, and Xavier is arguably the top program in the state and the only move their coach made when Ohio State came sniffing around was to buy a larger house.
This is still a good hire
Lost somewhat amongst what this means in terms of Xavier and the Big East is the fact that Holtmann is a good hire for the Buckeyes. He landed in a really difficult situation at Butler and made the absolute best of it, landing the Bulldogs in the top 30 of the KenPom rankings in each of his three seasons there. Despite not having elite talent to begin with, he kept the team competitive in the Big East. Last season, Butler was one of two Big East teams to beat Arizona and landed a four seed in the tournament. They advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Roy Williams loaded and possibly illiterate North Carolina squad. How many Ohio State fans would take that right now?