If the final choice is between Doug Gottlieb or Brad Underwood and Oklahoma State goes with the broadcaster over the experienced coach, I'm going to be more than upset.
Don't get me wrong. I love Doug. He seems like a fantastic guy and it's clear he knows his basketball, but now is not the time for this program to take a chance on a guy whose never coached a game in his life. Travis Ford was a good guy who knew his X's and O's and could recruit with the best of them, but he had no idea how to develop talent. That's my fear with Doug. Basketball knowledge does not always correlate over to being a good coach. Doug does have his upsides.
He comes off as a players' coach and is still young enough to relate to recruits and players on a personal level. However, doesn't Ford fit that profile as well? Ford's problem wasn't that he couldn't win. He's third all-time in wins in OSU history — while it's an argument that's only because he was there so long. His problem was that he couldn't win when it mattered. Can Doug win in March? Why not go with the man whose proven he can win in March. There are two things Oklahoma State fans are getting impatient for. Conference championships and March Madness wins. Underwood has taken care of both in his short time with Stephen F. Austin. No, I'm not comparing the Big 12 to the Southland Conference, but the man has cleaned house there the last three years. To go along with an 88-13 overall record, Underwood has led the Lumberjacks to three conference championships in three years. He's 53-1 during that time. Stephen F. Austin owns the Southland right now and it's thanks to Brad Underwood carrying on the tradition that started before him. Any Oklahoma State fan knows the last team to win a Big 12 championship not named Kansas would be the Cowboys.
Ford was given his 10-year contract to win conference championships. Well, that didn't exactly pan out. I'm not saying Underwood is going to come in and immediately dethrone Kansas but his complete domination in a Division I conference should not be taken lightly. Our friends over at Pistols Firing Blog wrote an interesting piece about not looking too much into Underwood's tournament success. Instead, we should be focusing on his regular season resume and his overall record. As I mentioned earlier, Ford is third in Oklahoma State history in wins. He has one win in the tournament. That's why Ford was fired. His teams couldn't win in March.
So to say we shouldn't put too much stock into what Underwood has done come tournament time is foolhardy. Underwood has two tournament wins in three years with Stephen F. Austin. How many of you know off the top of your head where that even is (it's in Nacogdoches, Texas, by the way)? If Ford had a few more tournament wins, Oklahoma State probably wouldn't be looking for a new head coach right now. That's the nature of college basketball. If a team sneaks into the tournament at 18-13, but makes it to the second week; that's going to be considered a successful year. Yet, if a two seed gets knocked out in the first round, that season is a disaster. Of course, different schools have different expectations, but Oklahoma State expects greatness. I mean, they used too. In 2014, Underwood led a 32-3 SFA team to a first round upset over No. 5 seed VCU. The following year, Underwood and company were ousted in the first round as a 12-seed. Most of us are familiar with what Underwood accomplished this tournament. This time as a 14-seed, the Lumberjacks beat West Virginia; a team that clobbered Oklahoma State twice this year. SFA was 1.4 seconds away from advancing to their first Sweet 16 in school history, but Notre Dame had other plans. Underwood's short, yet extremely productive term with Stephen F. Austin is likely over.
Whether he'll be coaching in Stillwater is anybody's guess.
I have a small bias towards Underwood. We both grew up in the same small town in Kansas and graduated from the same high school. But outside of Gregg Marshall, he really is the best candidate. It's important to remember that it's not a two person race either. Buzz Williams is an admirable fit, while Chris Beard is turning some heads at Little Rock. I want Doug Gotlieb to be successful and it would be great if he was the savior this program needs. Yet I can't overlook his inexperience. I'm all for bringing Doug home. He'd make a great assistant and one day I believe he'd make a great head coach. Oklahoma State is just in no position to take a gamble on Gottlieb. I don't know who will be the next coach at OSU but I do know it will not be Travis Ford.
That, my friends, should give you enough hope to tide you over until we have our answer.