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Ohio State coaching candidates: Who are the big names that Buckeye basketball should pursue?

Ohio State has fired their head coach, Chris Holtmann, after two straight seasons of subpar basketball for the Buckeyes. Athletic Director Gene Smith made the decision to part ways with him as what will essentially be his last act as athletic director before he decides to retire, and it appears as though Ross Bjork - who will take over for Smith - will be the one making the hire.

Here are a few candidates that will be interested in the position.

Sean Miller (Xavier head coach): This is the obvious answer. He has been successful everywhere he’s been and went from Arizona with sanctions hanging over his head back to Xavier and found immediate success with the Musketeers going 27-10 in his first season back with a Sweet 16 appearance to show for it.

Xavier is a smaller private school, so Miller is paid well, but he could upgrade at Ohio State in salary and his buyout is not that big when compared to other coaches on this list. He has one more big school opportunity in him, and Ohio State seems like the perfect opportunity for him if he wants to make the jump.

Greg McDermott (Creighton): McDermott was in the mix with Holtmann when the job opened in 2017 after Ohio State parted ways with Thad Matta.

The job ultimately went to Holtmann, but could McDermott get a look the second time around?

McDermott has been nothing but successful across his entire coaching career. He has gone to the NCAA Tournament in eight out of his 14 seasons at Creighton, and it would've been nine if the 2020 NCAA Tournament - a year the Jays were Big East regular season champs - hadn't been canceled. He also brought the Bluejays to the brink of the Final Four last season, and they are on track for another very good season, trending as a five-seed in current bracketology.

McDermott has accomplished a lot at Creighton and the question is now if he has reached the ceiling there. Ohio State offers more money and an opportunity at a bigger school overall than a smaller school like Creighton. His age is a question, but with him potentially plateauing in Omaha it is worth a call from the Buckeyes to gauge his interest.

Lamont Paris (South Carolina): Paris is one of the hottest names in college basketball this season with how well South Carolina has played in just his second season at the helm. They excel because of their defense, where they are a top-15 scoring defense this season, allowing 64 points per game. Paris has some of his coaching roots in Big Ten country when he was a long-time assistant at Wisconsin from 2010-2017, and he is also from Ohio originally.

He also offers a very cheap option for the Buckeyes too with a $4 million buyout until it drops to $3 million on April 1st. The Buckeyes would be able to offer a significant raise for Paris, even considering the massive buyout they just paid out to Holtmann. Paris is a very viable and good option for the Buckeyes if they decided to go with him.

Dusty May (Florida Atlantic): Dusty May has proven that last season was not a fluke at Florida Atlantic. They have been riding the momentum of making the Final Four last season and after returning everyone from last season’s run are able to be as high as a 4 or 5-seed this season. This season alone they have beaten Butler, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, and Arizona in the non-conference schedule. They have not been perfect with losses to Bryant, Illinois, FGCU, Charlotte, and UAB up to this point.

May’s roots are in the Big Ten because he graduated from Indiana and was a student manager under Bob Knight. He was a career assistant until Florida Atlantic came calling in 2018. May would be a cheap option for the Buckeyes, even with the massive contract extension he had with the Owls after last year’s run. He would be a great fit for Ohio State, but if Indiana opens sooner than later, May might be gunning for that job more.

Niko Medved (Colorado State): Medved is the best “mid-major” head coach in the country right now with Colorado State playing great and on the verge of entering their second NCAA Tournament under him, after initially going in the 2021-22 season. Colorado State will be in the tournament in the range of a 6-9 seed this season which is great for a team in the Mountain West. Four different players score in double digits for the Rams, with Isaiah Stevens leading the way. They are going to be a popular Cinderella pick for many people this March and that is only going to help Medved’s case as a high-major coach.

Medved also has ties to the Midwest, having attended college at the University of Minnesota. He could be an underrated coach for the Buckeyes and will absolutely be in the mix for coaching jobs after the tournament this spring.

Mick Cronin (UCLA): There has been a lot of talk about Mick Cronin and whether his time at UCLA has run thin. Still, after a rough star they have won seven of their last eight games, with the only loss being a collapse against Arizona on the road. He’s making the Bruins look much better of late after they started the season looking nothing short of a train wreck.

Cronin is from Ohio and would be a very good fit for what the Buckeyes would want to do with how much he focuses on a grind it out offense and a very physical defense. Cronin is a name that is also going to come up for the eventual Louisville opening at the end of the season too, so the Buckeyes could have competition for him if they want him.

The biggest issue facing any school that is interested in Cronin is his buyout. UCLA has a massive buyout in Cronin’s contract with it being $20 million until March 31st of this year and then it will be $16 million until next year. Given that Ohio State just spent $14 million in buyout money in firing Holtmann, Cronin probably isn't a realistic option.


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