During a Monday press conference, Thad Matta is expected to announce he will coach one more season at Ohio State.
Ohio State has called a 2 p.m. ET press conference with athletic director Gene Smith and men’s basketball coach Thad Matta. According to Bucknuts.com (247 Sports), Matta will announce that 2017-18 will be his final season as Buckeyes’ coach.
Matta has battled health issues after back surgery in recent years, and the team has missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two years with a 38-29 combined record (18-18 in the Big Ten). With a drop in recruiting and this spring’s announcement JaQuan Lyle had quit the team, the Buckeyes may go into the season with just nine scholarship athletes on Matta’s team.
Ohio State has reached two Final Fours under Matta (2006 and 2012). But it’s now pretty far removed from the last time they won more than one NCAA Tournament game in 2013. Five Big Ten titles is also a solid accomplishment, but the Buckeyes last did that under Matta with a first place tie in 2011-12. Last year’s tie for 10th in the conference was the low point, but Ohio State finished fifth, sixth and seventh in the three previous seasons.
One bad season would not necessarily be cause for alarm, or bring calls for someone to be fired. But Ohio State has been on a downward trend for four years, and speculation about Matta’s job security is sure to surface if another bad season is coming.
Some sort of back channel search for Matta’s successor may start immediately, if one is not appointed from his coaching staff at Monday’s presser. A firing next spring would wound the pride of a mostly successful coach, and Ohio State is allowing Matta to get ahead of the curve within the frame of a resignation.