We’ve had a couple days to digest and interpret all the information that’s come to surface and there’s some important questions that need to be answered in the next couple days. So let’s take a look at some of these questions and see what our staff thinks on the state of the situation and OSU Basketball.
What happens next? Are they looking for a new coach or a new AD? Who are you hoping they find for either scenario and who do you think they'll realistically go after?
Austin Higgs: These couple of days have been wild, and I still think I need more information before I can answer this question. I want to throw my frustration into something, but I just don't know who to target... Early, it was pretty clear the Holder let this happen. Then later, it was reported that Underwood never allowed Holder to adjust his offer. I'm sure there is more to this, but I think finding a coaching replacement is the first priority.
Phillip Slavin: I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this, but what I do know is, I'm not throwing Holder completely under the bus on this one. He made Underwood a competitive offer. Whether Underwood gave OSU a chance to match the $3 million a year or not, I'm OK with Holder not paying the guy that much. That being said, it's hard to pick who OSU will go after next, without knowing exactly what Holder is willing to offer.
Joel Penfield: The first order of is a new coach. At first I was extremely mad at Holder for not giving Underwood a pay raise. But when I saw the offer that Holder gave, I thought it was completely reasonable, and Underwood proved he was all about money and packed up his bag to an irrelevant team that overpaid him. I think Holder made the right decision here.
Brodie Smith: Well, we have an AD in place, whether people like him or not, so it's incumbent upon the administration to find a coach and one who wants to be here, offers hope for the future. The way things have been handled doesn't make the job look attractive. Underwood apparently wanted (and felt he deserved) more money, it was offered it elsewhere and left. Sources said it was a fractured relationship with Holder. That can't look appealing to candidates. But I'd rather have one search than two simultaneous ones. So, find a coach and then deal with Holder. Just don't let him be the sole selector of that coach. And don't let Boone Pickens make recommendations. In looking for a coach, don't try to find Underwood 2.0. We see how that ended. Find the best coach for these players and one who will capitalize on the momentum built this season. I'd give Bill Self a call first, just to kick those tires again. Should he decline the invitation, move forward with the next on the list of who you want to coach the next successful era of Cowboy basketball.
Micah Allen: I'm going after a new coach. It's not Holder's fault if Underwood was being greedy, which is exactly what it seems like. But no one really knows what happened and we may never know. Coaching wise I don't really know who would be available that we could hire and I don't know how I feel about stealing coaches away. I mean its a business and it happens, but ya know I still think it's crappy.
Colin Price: People might be clamoring for Holder to be replaced, but it’ll take a lot more convincing for me to believe he botched this. Every indication has told me that Holder wasn’t short changing Underwood and he wasn’t really willing to get locked into a long-term, high dollar contract without more of an indication it’d pan out. I can respect that but it’s definitely a big loss and a bitter one at that with all the promise we had been given. This next hire might be one of the defining moments in Holder’s career, for better or worse. Unfortunately, the market for coaches is much slimmer this year and there are no obvious sure-fire hire.
Doug has been keeping his name in the conversation and seems to be in consideration at the least. What do you think his pros and cons are?
Austin: Pros: He knows the school, fanbase, program and how OSU does things. The adustment period for Doug should be minimal. Plus, when he put his name in for the job last year, there was a lot of notable OSU alumni supporting #BringDougHome, and it would be awesome to have those guys in the bag again. Recruiting wise, Doug is a young personable guy who is pretty well known in the sports media world. I would imagine he could have some young guys buy in to what he is sellin'.
Cons: No coaching experience. Errr... No coaching experience.
Phillip: I love the #BringDougHome campaign. I understand why fans get excited at the notion of bringing him to Stillwater, I get excited too. The guy lives and breathes basketball, and with his positions at ESPN and CBS, has built relationships with a lot of smart people. The problem is the unknown. At his best, Gottlieb could be Fred Hoiberg, who had no coaching experience and killed it at Iowa State. Or he could be Kim Anderson, who was great at Division II Central Missouri, but couldn't win more than 12 games a season in three years at Missouri. I also don't think hiring Gottlieb helps our National perception. Let's be honest, it has taken a hit. Hiring Gottlieb looks like we wanted a guy on the cheap we weren't afraid would leave. It will come across like a "safe" move that's not really safe.
Joel: I'm hopping on the #BringDougHome train. I was on it last year as well. His pros and cons are both fairly obvious. His pros are that he loves Oklahoma State and can rally a fan base that feels betrayed. He knows the game of basketball from an X's and O's standpoint, even though he's never coached, he's around the game quite a bit as an analyst and that could work to his benefit. His cons are obvious, he's never coached. Even though he knows the game, can he translate that into coaching a roster? But for me, the biggest pro is this: he WANTS this job. He's willing to throw caution to the wind and go for it, saying openly this is what he wants to do, coach the Cowboys. It's a risk, but I think it's a risk worth taking.
Brodie: Doug is OSU. He bleeds orange and black. He knows what Cowboy basketball has been and may offer a bridge to the Eddie Sutton/Henry Iba mentality. He just doesn't have any experience you can draw on. Rarely do commentators make for good coaches. You could say Steve Kerr bucks that trend, but look what he's had to work with at Golden State. Plus, that's the NBA and coaches are important but not nearly as important as at the collegiate level. I just don't see it working out for Doug until he gives an assistant position a go. Perhaps he could pull a move similar to what Mike Gundy did by being an assistant at OSU under whoever the next coach is. That coach could be the temporary bandaid to keep the program moving forward until Doug is ready (in 3-4 years). Hard to see him going for that, though, with his sweet CBS gig. It's a crapshoot with Doug. You could get an OSU lifer who succeeds beyond all expectations. But you could get an untested leader who struggles to adjust to today's basketball era and sets the program back even further than Travis Ford did.
Micah: Con: He has never coached a basketball game in his life
Pro: everything else.
Colin: There’s nothing I can add that you guys haven’t already said. I think he’s worth a gamble but only on a short term, experimental contract to see if he’ll pan out.
Fallout from this move is yet to really hit. What do you think will happen to the players and the overall fan support for next year?
Austin: I have no idea about the effect this will have on the players/recruits. If we see a few players transfer out and we hire some lame ass coach, I could see the fanbase becoming unsupportive. We need to get this situation figured out ASAP for this very reason. We need to get a guy in here that these guys want to play for.
Phillip: I don't think this will affect the current players that much. Jawun will leave because he wants to, not because Underwood left. As far as the other current players, unless Underwood tries to poach them, it will depend more on who the next coach is than Underwood leaving. Fans? They may feel a little jaded, but the loyalty is to OSU, not the coach. As long as the product on the court is good, fans will come back.
Joel: I don't think it will effect anything yet. I believe Jawun is going to go pro, there's no way he stays and plays for his 3rd coach in 3 years. Underwood is going to try and get a couple guys to transfer to Illinois, and I believe one or two guys currently on the team will (to Illinois or elsewhere). This move also affects recruiting, if they haven't sign their letter of intent yet, will they stay committed to OSU, or head to Champaign to play for Underwood? Fan support will depend on who gets hired next. The fan base loved Underwood, and yesterday was a punch in the gut. I think a guy like Gottlieb could help rally the fan base.
Brodie: I imagine it will take a bit of a dip. But, players are the ones who brought the rowdy back with their play on the court. Underwood was certainly a factor in generating some enthusiasm amid the fanbase, but without Carroll and Evans and Forte leading the charge, the experiences of 2016-17 wouldn't have been nearly as exciting. I hope Evans stays, but he has been handed a big reason not to. I hope Dillard sticks, and I hope the commitments choose to honor their commitments to the school/program. However, my confidence in any of those is not that high.
Micah: I don't think it'll really hit fan support. And as far as players there's not really any "Underwood guys" except Averette so he might leave but I don't know why anyone else would.
Colin: I’m not worried too much about many of the players following him to Illinois or transferring just because of the shady way its all gone down (day after the loss, didn’t even meet with all the players, etc.). I am concerned with a couple commits wanting out of their Letter of Intent. I am worried that they might lose some fan support if they don’t make the right kind of hire to carry the momentum. It might be harder for more passive fans to spend their time and money on a program they deem as unstable due to 3 coaches in 3 years.
Perception can be reality in the world of sports. What is your perception of the OSU Athletic Department (the business side, the culture side, and the prestige of the basketball program) and what do you think the national perception is?
Austin: I mean, when things like this happen, it's always easy to throw your hands in the air and say "the athletic department is a disaster, Holder has to go." Think about it though, this is a University that sent a baseball team to the College World Series last year, sent a football team to a well respected bowl and it's basketball team to the big dance. Not to mention all of our success in wrestling, golf, women's tennis, track, etc. What other schools can say that? OU can't. Alabama can't. Ohio State can't. Stanford can't. The sports business is tough, and *stuff* happens. I just choose to look at all the success we've had on the field/court/diamond/matt.
I actually think that is the most important thing I've ever wrote.....
Phillip: The perception is Holder is a smart, shrewd business man who can raise some capital, but may not be as great when it comes to handling people. Really, I think the worst thing he ever did was give Travis Ford a 10-year contract. The decision itself and the repercussions since. The effects of that contract caused problems when negotiating with Gundy. It affected how much Holder was willing to pay Underwood. Nationally perception is not going to be good for awhile. It can be fixed with a new hire that makes everyone go.. "good job."
Joel: I think the Athletic Department made the right call not giving in to giving Underwood top 10 money. It hurts not having a great coach like Underwood here anymore, but it was not worth overpaying him after one year. The culture was being changed, and the program was heading towards greatness again. Now, we're back to the end of the Ford era...wondering what comes next.
Brodie: The face is Boone Pickens, which really stinks because he's just a benefactor, but what he wants and says appears to be the rule of the orange-colored land. It's unfortunate. The next in line is Holder, but he has made some specific and damaging decisions, especially with the men's basketball program. He has to get this one right. The program has so much to offer and a fanbase ready to continue a resurgence. But, I fear the national perception is that this once proud contender is devolving into a program for coaches who want to make a name for themselves and move to something they consider more viable.
Micah: I think nationally it has a really good reputation. Business side they don't know how to negotiate contracts or at least that's the way it seems. Culturally it seems like a great program and kids like being there.
Colin: I like to think we’re seen as a successful and sustainable program, both in product and finance. The job Holder has done fundraising phenomenons and has rebuilt the entire athletic village and its dividends have played out on the field/court/etc. As for the basketball program, I see it currently on the verge but it hasn’t been able to get over the hump quite yet. Nationally, I think its considered as a former giant that’s been separated from its hayday but is dying to get back; think Minnesota Football - was legendary a while ago but hasn’t sustained national prominence since the game has changed. Sure they have their moments and are respected, but they’re always a couple steps off.
You have just been named the new AD and your first task is to hire a new coach. What's your power move to reinvigorate the fans and put the team in prime position to win?
Austin: I'm just crazy enough to jump on the #BringDougHome train, but I would have to do my due diligence in talking with guys like Archie Miller, Gregg Marshall and I'll even give Bill Self a call just to see how fast I can get hung up on.
Phillip: Hire the right coach. It's as simple as that. Granted, that's not a simple task and one I don't think will be fixed quickly. I know everyone is going to say Bill Self, Greg Marshall, and Buzz Williams.for candidates, but I don't see those moves happening unless Holder is willing to pay more than Illinois was for Underwood. I don't know who the right hire is right now. We had him, and he just flew to Champagne, Illinois. If I had a "bold move" name on my list, I'd go after Mark Turgeon at Maryland. He has history in Texas having previously coached Texas A&M. He's a solid coach who wins. Yes, he only two trips to the Sweet 16 in his career, but we need a splash. If I'm going after a mid-major guy? Chris Holtmann at Butler is the top guy on my list. I also think landing Tom Crean would be a slam-dunk of a hire.
Joel: I'm calling Doug and giving him his chance to make his pitch. Because he wants this job, he deserves at least an interview. After him, I'd start bold (Bill Self, Gregg Marshall, Buzz Williams), then work down the list and give interviews to coaches like Tom Crean and Tim Jankovich.
Brodie: Drop ticket prices and invest all your energy into promoting the athletes and the program (not just the coach) as a great place to compete and win. I believed this team was going to be the one to finally unseat the Jayhawks at the top of the conference next season. We don't need a splashy hire. We don't need to bring in Larry Brown to right the ship. We're not reinventing the wheel. We're just looking for a coach who has some enthusiasm, a genuine (not just spoken) appreciation for the history of the program, and wants/intends to be here for the long haul. Pay him well, but assure the hire the money will come with consistent success at the highest level and not just a year of mediocrity against the best the conference has to offer. But, first OSU has to win the crowd again after being stood up by a coach they thought was truly invested. The best way to accomplish that is to give them a great product at a reasonable cost.
Micah: Get someone who will be loyal and true (see what I did there?) And stay with this programs and give these kids someone to respect and look up to. And isnt a money chaser.
Colin: The first thing I do is gather the biggest fistful of money I can gather and throw it at Bill Self. If/when that doesn’t work, I start the Doug Project on a smaller 2-3 year contract and closely watch how it plays out. Keep him doing the personal promotions that Underwood got very good at and try expanding it out further from the students to lapsed season ticket holders and donors; make him the face and personality of OSU Basketball in every aspect. Make him a man of the people and loved by everyone.