With Jim Christian escaping the 'Cats claws to soar off to Boston, a coveted mid-major basketball job has opened up in Athens, Ohio.
Over the past few years Ohio has turned into a powerful little mid-major, and a popular landing spot for up-and-coming head coaches. John Groce landed a cushy gig with Illinois following the 2012 season, and now Christian landed an ACC gig after just two years. Few mid-major programs have had as much success as Ohio lately, both for the players and the coaching staffs who are moving on to bigger jobs.
Part of the reason for that success falls on the shoulders of Ohio athletic director Jim Schaus, who as Seth Austin of WOUB Sports pointed out, has had each of his last four basketball hires have all been highly successful (with three moving on to big jobs)
Jim Schaus has hired 4 head MBB coaches. M Turgeon (WSU - now Maryland) G Marshall (WSU) Groce (OU -now Illinois) Christian (OU - now BC)— Seth Austin (@Seth_Austin) April 3, 2014
Schaus likes to hire out of house, and has said he plans to make an announcement on a hire by the middle of next week, so names are already flowing. Let's take a look at some of the names possibly on the table for the Ohio job.
Dustin Ford: One of the top names for the search is likely to be Dustin Ford, who has spent the last six seasons under the tutelage of former Ohio coach John Groce. Ford served under Groce for four years at Ohio, and each of the last two seasons in Champaign. Ford is an Ohio University graduate with strong ties to the area. He was a sharpshooting, excellent-passing guard for the Bobcats and graduated in 2001. He went on to coach Jackson High School, a local school roughly 40 miles from Athens before getting into college coaching.
Jeff Boals: Another name being thrown in the mix by many in Ohio media circles is Jeff Boals, an assistant at Ohio State University. Boals is a graduate of Ohio University (95'), and was a four-year letterwinner and two-time captain with the Bobcats. He has experience coaching at Akron, Robert Morris, the University of Charleston (WV.) and Marshall University. Like Groce, Boals is a Thad Matta disciple; Groce was hired at Ohio after working as a Matta assistant at OSU.
John Rhodes: Yet another name in the hat with ties to OU is John Rhodes, a current Duquesne assistant coach. Rhodes was the associate head coach under former Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea from 2004-05 onward in his time at Ohio, and spent two seasons at Ohio as an assistant under Larry Hunter. Rhodes has coached at schools including Ohio Northern (as a head coach), Northeastern, St. Bonaventure, North Florida, and even coached (and played) professionally in Iceland.
Kevin Kuwik: Currently an assistant at Dayton under the greatly desired (though unlikely to leave until later) Archie Miller, Kevin Kuwik has a history in Athens, having been a full-time assistant to Tim O'Shea in his 2001-2008 stint with the Bobcats. He did take an 18-month leave of absence to serve in Iraq as a member of the National Guard during his time with Ohio. Kuwik has coached at a number of smaller schools and has been at Butler, Ohio State, and Dayton in recent years.
Bill Wuczynski: Current Ohio University assistant head coach Bill Wuczynski has already been confirmed to be vying for the position. Wuczynski has worked closely with the point guards at Ohio after having worked under Christian at TCU. He has also worked at Florida International, Loyola University-Chicago, as well as helping to recruit talented athletes at UNLV in the late 90's.
A few other names have been mentioned without particular connections to Athens or strong inclinations towards the job, and these include:
Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio mentioned these coaches as possible candidates for the job:
- Greg Gard, Associate Head Coach at Wisconsin, and has been in Madison for 20 years.
- Darren Savino, an assistant coach at Cincinnati with strong recruiting ties to the New York area.
- Jerrod Calhoun, Head Coach at Fairmont State
- Andrew Toole, head coach at Robert Morris.
Other names that have been mentioned by various members of the media include:
- Saul Phillips', the current North Dakota State head coach, name has been mentioned as well, but this is likely one of those idealistic hopes for Ohio fans that carries little chance of actually coming to fruition.
- Ben Howland's name has been thrown in the mix. Really now? He would have to fill a Frank Solich-type role where he would come in, be the elder statesmen and get paid a lot of money.
9 Names for Ohio: Dino Gaudio Jeff Boals Scott Spinelli Bacari Alexander Dustin Ford Andy Toole Jeff Neubauer Greg Gard Chris Holtmann— Chas Wolfe (@highmajorscoop) April 3, 2014
- Dino Gaudio, former Wake Forest coach.
- Bacari Alexander, an assistant at Michigan and formerly coached at Western Michigan.
- Chris Holtmann, former coach at Ohio under John Groce and current assistant at Butler.
- Jeff Neubauer, the current Eastern Kentucky Head Coach.
It's too soon to tell who, if any of these names, are being seriously considered for the job. More names are certain to emerge going forth, with Schaus expected to make an announcement by the middle of next week.
We'll track the story and deliver updates.