COLUMBUS, Ohio — The sport has dominated the headlines for the past week, but nobody ever would contend that Ohio State is a basketball school.
And for new Buckeyes basketball coach Chris Holtmann, that’s just fine.
Holtmann was only midway through his introductory press conference Monday when the topic of the large shadow cast by his new football counterpart came up. The reporter couldn’t finish his question before Holtmann let his thoughts on the subject be known.
“I love it,” the coach proclaimed. “Love it. I think it’s great. I think it adds to this place. It was exciting quite obviously.”
Perhaps Holtmann is excited to be in the presence of one of college football’s premier football programs after having spent the past four years at Butler, known as a basketball school. Or maybe the Nicholasville, Ky., native really is just a fan of the gridiron.
But what’s more likely at the core of Holtmann’s football fondness is another message he highlighted over the course of Monday’s news conference. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program — in any sport. And in that regard, it isn’t hard to envision Holtmann embracing Urban Meyer’s program as an asset.
That’s especially true when you consider that one of Holtmann’s top priorities will be to recruit talent inside Ohio.
“This region is a tremendous area for talented, smart and tough players,” Holtmann said. “I’ve recruited Ohio for over 20 years, and it has outstanding players and coaches.”
It’s worth noting Ohio’s crop of talent in 2018 is particularly rich.
Perhaps those players and coaches will be less likely to think twice about playing at a perceived “football school.” Ohio State isn’t just a football school — Ohio is a football state. For them, the attention paid to the Buckeyes’ football team wouldn’t be anything new. In fact, it might even be attractive.
Such a recruiting recipe wouldn’t be revolutionary for the Buckeyes basketball program. Even during the football team’s biggest recruiting weekends of the year — which typically focus on Ohio State football night games — Thad Matta often could be found providing tours to his own prospects around Ohio Stadium. Holtmann undoubtedly will attempt to similarly take advantage of The Shoe’s prime-time atmosphere.
That’s not to say that just because the Buckeyes’ football program is hitting on all cylinders, their basketball one will too. The steady decline of the Matta era over the past four years proves that.
But in recruiting, every advantage matters — even the little ones.
Then again, as Holtmann already knows, in Columbus, there’s nothing little about Ohio State football.