The latest wrinkle in the Ohio State men’s basketball head coach hunt surfaced late Thursday night, when ESPN’s Jeff Goodman announced that Butler coach Chris Holtmann was emerging as a favorite for the job:
Butler’s Chris Holtmann has emerged as the frontrunner for the Ohio State job, sources told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 9, 2017
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein confirmed that Holtmann was the favorite, and added that a deal could be done quickly:
Ohio State has zeroed in on Butler's Chris Holtmann, per a source. Deal could be done as early as Friday.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 9, 2017
In his three years at the helm of Butler’s program, Holtmann has led the Bulldogs to a 70-31 record and is one of only four active coaches to lead their current teams to NCAA wins in their first three seasons—along with North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Notre Dame’s Mike Brey.
The timing might be a bit strange for Holtmann if this does wind up happening, as he signed a contract extension in April, that goes through the 2024-25 season. However, as a highly-respected recruiter, Holtmann’s name seems to fit the agenda.
Buckeyes coach Thad Matta was released Monday, and Ohio State is trying to take a route that will help solidify the program’s recruiting efforts. Matta led Ohio State to a pair of Final Fours and a national championship game, but failed to reach the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons and didn’t get an NIT invitation after this past season.
Matta is the winningest coach in Ohio State men’s basketball history.