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Who Should Oklahoma State Hire?

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A list of potential candidates to replace Brad Underwood

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

As you surely know by now, Oklahoma State is on the hunt for a new basketball coach after Brad Underwood took $3-million a year to become the coach of Illinois. Less than a year after hiring Underwood, Mike Holder is now searching for his replacement.

With Underwood jumping ship so suddenly, Holder is going to have to start from scratch to find his replacement. Obviously there’s no timeline for an announcement, and I’d be surprised if we hear much for at least a week, if not two.

Before I get to my list of candidates, I want to get a few names out of the way.

I want to start with the names everyone is going to mention, but are not going to happen: Bill Self, Greg Marshall, and Buzz Williams. If Bill Self wanted to come to Oklahoma State, he would have when Sean Sutton was fired. He ain’t coming to Stillwater.

As far as Greg Marshall, he already makes $3-million a year at Wichita State. Unless Holder wants to offer a significant raise, he ain’t coming either. Plus, Marshall could get any job in the country. Not that OSU isn’t a good job, but there’s not a lot of incentive for him to take it.

Buzz Williams. You’re going to hear this guy’s name a lot. The Virginia Tech head coach graduated from Oklahoma City University. He’s currently making $2.6-million a year. Yes, Holder could open up the purse for a guy who’s proven he can win at a Power-5 school, but I don’t think he’s going to.

I should also add Archie Miller to this list. The Dayton head coach is going to get a power conference job, if not this year, than probably the next. The guy can coach, there’s no doubt about that. The problem is he’s likely on Indiana’s list of potential guys. We won’t outbid Indiana for Miller. The Hoosiers are probably going to pull an Illinois and get a guy for around $3-million a year. Not that Holder shouldn’t talk to him, he should, I just don’t see it happening.

So let’s get to the real contenders.

Andy Enfield - Southern Cal

A lot will be mentioned about Enfield’s connection to Oklahoma (he married an okie gal!). I’m not sure if that matters. Enfield should be on Holder’s list because of what he did at Florida Gulf Coast and is currently doing at USC.

He put FGCU on the map when “Dunk City” made a memorable run to the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed in 2013. At USC, the Trojans were a mess when Enfield arrived. In four years he’s brought the team from 11 wins to back-to-back 20+ win seasons. He’s also won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament in both season’s hes made it. Plus, who wouldn’t love to see Dunk Stilly in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Joe Dooley - Florida Gulf Coast

If we’re going to talk about Enfield, we should talk about his replacement at Florida Gulf Coast. Since arriving, Dooley has continued what Enfield started with the “Dunk City” style of offense. In his four years, Dooley has not finished worse than 2nd in the conference. Before taking over at FGCU, Dooley was an assistant under Bill Self at Kansas for a decade. That means he has experience in the Big 12, something that, while not important, certainly doesn’t hurt.

He currently makes $225,000 a year at FGCU. That would make an offer around $1-million a BIG pay raise. Plus, he’s actually making less at FGCU than he was as an assistant at Kansas, so money obviously isn’t his driving factor.

Dooley was the head coach at East Carolina from 1995 to 1999, but never finished with more than 17 wins. To me, he seems like the kind of guy who had to wait a long time for a second chance, and would be happy to return to the Big 12.

Tom Crean - Unemployed

I didn’t include Crean in the “I don’t think so” even though I think he’s a stretch. Crean was fired by Indiana last week after the Hoosiers lost in the first round of the NIT. Crean was 166-135 at Indiana with three trips to the Sweet 16. Before that, he was the head coach at Marquette where he averaged 20 wins a year and had a trip to the Final Four.

Crean is known as a hard working coach and good recruiter. He’s also a proven winner. I’m not going to hold getting fired at Indiana against him. Indiana is to basketball as Notre Dame is to football, a program that has a title and was great a couple decades ago, and now can’t grasp the fact that they’re not a Top-5 program.

The big concern with Crean is money. He was making more than $3-million a year at Indiana. Would Holder be willing to pony up that kind of money for a coach like Crean, or would Crean be willing to take less? Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Ben Jacobsen - Northern Iowa

Jacobsen has been the head coach of the Panthers for 11 years. How he hasn’t gotten another job, I don’t know. In 11 seasons he’s finished in the top 3 seven times in the Missouri Valley Conference, one of the best mid-major conferences. He’s made the tournament four times and has a trip to the Sweet-16.

Jacobsen may not get Oklahoma State fans excited, but there’s something to be said about consistency. Grabbing the hottest name from the NCAA tournament wins the press conference, but doesn’t always equal wins.

He did just sign a 10-year contract back in 2015 that raised his salary to $900,000. Holder could easily double that. The real question is, does Jacobsen want to leave Northern Iowa or is he happy where he is?

Chris Holtmann - Butler

Holtmann was previously the head coach at Garner-Webb for three seasons, but left to become an assistant at Butler in 2013 under coach Brandon Miller. During his three seasons at Garner-Webb Holtmann took the team from 11 wins to 21 and earned himself a contract extension. That’s why his decision to become an assistant was so surprising. After one year as an assistant, Holtmann took over at Butler after Miller had to step away for medical reasons. Since then, the Bulldogs have won at least 22 games a year in the Big East and made it to at least the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Holtmann’s salary is not public, though it’s believed he makes less than $1-million a year and is one of the lowest paid coaches in the Big East. It should be easy for Holder to more than double his current salary based on the information available.

Holtmann is only 45 meaning he should have plenty of coaching ahead of him. This would be a slam dunk hire, in fact I think it would be the best hire Holder could make. Holder passed on hiring former Butler head coach Brad Stevens in 2008 when he chose Travis Ford. Passing up on another successful Butler head coach would be a mistake as well.

Mark Turgeon - Texas A&M

This is my swing for the fences hire. I know it’s kinda out-there but hear me out.

OSU needs a big name, someone who is a proven winner. Turgeon fits the bill. After a couple mediocre seasons at Maryland, he’s finally got the program rolling, winning at least 24 games a year the last three seasons in a row. He’s been successful in stops at Wichita State (128-90), Texas A&M (97-40), and Maryland (136-67).

He makes more than $2.3-million a year. Here’s my thinking though, Holder didn’t want to give Underwood $3-million because technically, he’s still an unproven coach at the power-conference level. Turgeon has plenty of experience, including in the Big 12. Offering him $3-million would be significantly less of a gamble.

The question is, would that kind of raise lure him out of the Big 10? Would Maryland match the offer? I would make the call if I was Holder, but I realize he would be an add pick.

Doug Gottlieb - CBS Sports Analyst

The name everyone is going to be talking about. Holder doesn’t even have to call Gottlieb, because the former Cowboy point guard has already been in contact.

Holder should talk to Gottlieb. It’s assumed he would be cheap, like $1-million a year or less cheap. He wouldn’t leave for another bigger job. This is his dream job. He said so to the Tulsa World.

“anyone in basketball has known that I had one dream — to be on that (Gallagher-Iba Arena) sideline.”

The fan base would rally around him. We would all be excited to have him as the coach. Wouldn’t it be really cool to have alumni coaching the big-3 sports, football, basketball, and baseball.

The problem is one we all know; Gottlieb has no coaching experience. He studies it, talks it, and breathes it, but has never really coached it. The guy knows more about basketball than most people, but knowing isn’t the same as teaching.

Hiring Gottlieb, because he’s an alum, could go one of two ways: He could be Fred Hoiberg, who was wildly successful and popular at Iowa State despite having no coaching experience. Or, he could be Kim Anderson, who despite winning a Division II title with Central Missouri, couldn’t win more than 8 games in three seasons at Missouri.

It would be fun, and if he can make OSU relevant, then hire him. Now. The trouble is, we just don’t know if he can, and success on the court is what matters most.