What do you do if you want the position of men's head basketball coach at Oklahoma State, but lack a pretty sizable piece of the usual coaching resume?
You try to get people of some reputation to back you...one major coach and several players did so...and you also lobby the public at large. Social media was a major tool in that effort. Many of us were swayed by the idea of a former highly regarded player coming back to coach his Alma Mater, despite the lack of formal coaching experience. After all, there are a number of successful examples of former players jumping into head coaching positions with no prior experience, specifically with basketball.
Mike Holder and the search committee, however, were not among those swayed by this presentation. A candidate was chosen that embodied the stereotypical resume:
- Experience, both at several levels of institutions and coaching positions, including head coach;
- Success, not only during the regular season, but also the post-season, specifically the NCAA tournament;
- Integrity/Character, which is hard to to debate given what we've seen in the past couple of days and heard from people he's worked with and coached;
- Ties to Oklahoma State, having played for a former Iba disciple, and his wife is an alum;
This was a pretty solid hire, about as solid as you're going to get, short of bringing in another Eddie Sutton (someone with major Division I experience taking many teams deep into the Dance), and that wasn't going to happen this time around. The price tag isn't unmanageable, and now the program is on that 3-5 year path back to relevance.
I didn't agree with it. Many of us didn't.
I don't have a problem with Brad Underwood. He's got as good a chance as any of being successful at OSU. I just felt the program needed more of a "jolt." You weren't getting Greg Marshall, or Ben Jacobson, or Buzz Williams, or Bill Self for that matter. So why not make the "high profile" hire...and yes, Doug Gottlieb would have been a "high profile" hire...and immediately inject excitement and enthusiasm back into the program? A number of fans would have repopulated their seats in GIA just for that alone.
But that didn't happen, and that's ok. It wasn't our decision to make. Mike Holder, after ridding himself of the albatross of Ford's contract extension, needed a solid, SAFE hire (and I said as much on Twitter). Doug would have been another pelt on the wall of those who would have Holder's head should Gottlieb have not panned out. The AD won't suffer as much of a hit if Underwood underwhelms because so many agree this was a good hire, and it's good because of the resume, which is about all we have to go on anyway. The contract extension mistake will not be repeated. I'm sure Boone weighed in on the topic.
So get over it.
This also applies to all those who would bash Doug for doing what he did, and stating he would not be interested in a position as an assistant. I don't have a problem with that. He made a choice some time ago to not pursue coaching, so as he considers it now, later in life, he doesn't want to start from scratch. I totally get that, as I passed on pursuing coaching when I had the opportunity, and I wouldn't want to start from the bottom at this point in my life. Wouldn't work for my family or lifestyle. He's been classy and professional in his support of the new coach, and will continue to be an ambassador for the program.
I saw a tweet that put words in Doug's mouth, like "Well if they don't want me, I don't want them." That's crap. His choice in that moment has absolutely nothing to do with feeling spurned, or wanting to take the easy road. Many others have done what he wanted to do, and have been successful. It just didn't work out this time. I would simply encourage him to pursue other opportunities to be a head coach, because OSU will present itself as an opportunity again. The 14 years between myself and Doug is a long time in the coaching world. I would hate for him to reach my age and look back with regret.
So either get onboard or shut up. Brad Underwood is a good hire with a shot of revitalizing the program. He comes from the Iba Tree, even though he didn't play for OSU. As I said many times about Travis Ford, I want him to be successful. His success = OSU success.
Now, however, comes the expectation question. What should we "look forward" to seeing next season?
I'll leave it at this...keeping it simple...I expect the team to "look" different, in a good way. What "different" is, I'm not sure, but I think I'll know it when I see it. By year three, if he is what we think he can be, I would expect the team to compete for the upper echelon of the Big 12, if not for a title (if it's still in business, but that's a whole other post), and play for a shot at the Sweet 16.
So even if you were a Doug all the way convert, it's time to get behind the new coach and do what you can as fans to put the team in a position to succeed, and that means butts in the seats.
Bring back the rowdy.