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New Leading Candidate Not Guy You Wanted
By Tony Gerdeman
Billy Donovan these guys are not
Photo courtesy Omaha World-Herald

"Don't worry, Gene Smith has a plan," you were told.

Nobody would fire Thad Matta after a single conversation without having somebody waiting to swoop in and save the Ohio State men's basketball program.

That would be crazy.

You read the names.

Billy Donovan! Brad Stevens! Sean Miller! Jay Wright!

Get that trophy polish ready, boys. And get to sanding down that new mantle! Go tell the neighbors. We're about to have one hell of a party.

And yeah, it's gonna be an open bar.

Wait...what's that? Mick Cronin? Tom Crean? Come on, this is serious. This is Ohio State basketball. Stop with this nonsense. It's all fun and games until you start throwing crap against a wall and it gets in somebody's eye.

Let's get back to Billy Donovan. He and Urban Meyer have a long history together and there's no chance of Donovan having any meaningful success at Oklahoma City as long as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are still things that exist. Donovan would be a home run.

Brad Stevens is an Ohio State fan and part of Thad Matta's tree, and he has the same issues in Boston that Donovan does in Oklahoma City. At OSU he would never have to face a dynasty, he could build one.

Or Sean Miller. Sean, it's time to come home. Everyone knows it. Those winters in Arizona just aren't worth it. And you have to be dying for an actual lawn, right?

Yeah, this is gonna be big. The real question is which of these guys do you even choose? Do you make them fight for it? Beg? I don't know. You can't go wrong, but that doesn't make the decision--

What's that? Who? What? Greg who? Greg McDermott? Of the "Doug McDermott" Greg McDermotts?

What's a "Creighton?"

ESPN said what? He's been offered the job? This job? On purpose?

And this is when you enter the five stages of McDermott grief.

The first stage is denial.

"No way it's Greg McDermott," you say. "Look at his record. Why would Ohio State fire a guy for one season of fewer than 20 wins to hire a guy with 10 such seasons. No way. No way! Not here. Not at Ohio State."

The second stage is anger.

"This is utter bullcrap!" you yell to nobody in particular. "How is Ohio State reduced to offering this job to a guy whose only success in major coaching came from a son who is now toiling away in the NBA? It's a good thing I already stopped getting season tickets a couple of years ago or else I'd cancel right now!"

The third stage is bargaining.

"Did we not even call Buzz Williams?" you ask. "What about the guy from Butler? Butler always has good coaches. Or maybe Thad can stay on for one more year. Anything but this. Anything. What's Jim O'Brien doing? I totally forgive him."

The fourth stage is depression.

"At least my nights next basketball season can be spent listening to Elliott Smith instead of watching stupid basketball," you surrenderingly moan.

The fifth stage is acceptance.

"I guess this is better than Tom Crean," you say.

The scary part here, however, is I'm pretty sure it's not better than Tom Crean.

Ohio State is possibly on the verge of hiring somebody to take a job that has a standard that he has never been able to achieve.

But don't worry, this is all just a smokescreen. It has to be. This is Ohio State, after all.

Gene Smith has had his guy all along, even before he fired Thad Matta.

Right?

This whole Greg McDermott thing is just a way to make it look like Matta wasn't axed because somebody better came along. This is all just a courtesy to Thad Matta because he deserves better than to be undermined while he was still on the job.

This is just cover. A distraction. Flack.

So while you panic about the possibility of Greg McDermott as your next head coach, you are missing the machinations behind the scenes that will soon bring you one of the guys that you wanted all along.

This is how the game is played.

Don't worry. Gene Smith has a plan.

Right?

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