A new dawn has born on Oklahoma State basketball. What an odd feeling it is to be writing a column detailing a head coaching search.
Before we take a look at my top three candidates for the job, allow me to begin by thanking Travis Ford for his eight seasons at OSU. He did what he could, and he loved his players. Unfortunately, the time has come for the university and Ford to part ways. They did just that on Friday.
Now, with the 3rd-longest tenured coach in Oklahoma State basketball history taking on new endeavors, what is to become of the head coaching job at Oklahoma State?
I think you could narrow the coaching search down to three potential candidates: Brad Underwood, Buzz Williams and Doug Gottlieb. These are the guys that I think are most probable to become the head man at Oklahoma State within the coming weeks.
Here are my thoughts on each of them:
Brad Underwood: Underwood comes from the Bob Huggins coaching tree, and brings a wealth of experience with him. Having coached for the last 28 years, Underwood has found success everywhere he's been. He played at Kansas State, and was an assistant coach there as well. Underwood coached teams play very hard-nosed defense, and we saw that against West Virginia on Friday. His teams run a smooth motion offense and thrive with good point-guard play (looking at you, Jawun Evans.) Moving from The Southland Conference to a *potential* Big 12 force in Oklahoma State would be an excellent move for Underwood, and in my opinion, he is the most realistic candidate. Oh, he also went 59-1 in conference play in his three seasons at Stephen F. Austin. Yes, 59-1. One loss.
Buzz Williams: Williams is another coach that instills a hard nosed style of play in his teams. Williams was the head coach at Marquette from 2008-2014, when he took the Golden Eagles to three Sweet Sixteen's and an Elite Eight. Now the head coach at Virginia Tech, Williams took over a team who finished 2-16 in his first season. In 2015, he has Virginia Tech poised to make a deep run in the NIT. Williams is only 43, and could perhaps relate to younger players better than Underwood. Williams-coached teams always have a swagger about them, and that is something that has been missing from Oklahoma State basketball for the last decade. With limitless resources at his disposal, Williams would undoubtedly thrive in Stillwater.
Doug Gottlieb: What would a list of potential candidates be without Gottlieb? The former OSU point guard-turned-analyst bleeds orange, and would make it his civic duty to return OSU basketball to its former glory. However, Gottlieb has no coaching experience, and that is something that assuredly works against him if he is truly a candidate for the job. He could recruit well, and sells himself well to the OSU faithful. In my opinion, however, there are about four phone calls to other coaches that need to be made before Gottlieb is seriously considered for the job. That's not a knock on Gottlieb's knowledge of the game, but more a testament the serious state of affairs in Stillwater.
This hire will be Mike Holder's most important yet. Travis Ford did not work out, but Holder has the opportunity to restore prominence to OSU basketball by hiring someone who will turn the program around. OSU has been mostly irrelevant in the last decade, but that doesn't mean it has to last another decade, too. OSU basketball needs a change in culture. Physicality and mental toughness is the first thing that must be addressed by the next coach.
You like physicality and toughness? Look no further than Brad Underwood.
Oh, and the attendance... The attendance problem can be solved easily; Just Win, Baby.
You don't need a guy like Gottlieb to put butts in the seats. What would happen if Gottlieb comes in and falls on his face? Not saying that would happen, but the attendance problem would rear it's ugly head again. The next coach must build a sustainable, winning program, and when that happens, the seats will fill themselves.