Boals Maintaining Focus On Final Four

Ohio State assistant Jeff Boals is in the midst of coaching in the biggest games of his career. However, the Ohio State assistant has been linked to talks regarding the recently vacant Ohio job. Boals talked to about his current situation inside.

Jeff Boals roamed around the basketball court during Ohio State's practice in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday afternoon as the second-seeded Buckeyes prepared for its Final Four matchup with No. 2 Kansas.

With more than 74,000 seats surrounding the elevated court, Boals didn't need much of a reminder that he's preparing for perhaps the biggest moment of his youthful coaching career.

Add in the fact that Boals' name has been mentioned as one of the top candidates for the Ohio University job – an opportunity at his alma mater – and this could shape out to be the most impactful weekend of Boals' life.

"Any time your alma mater pops up, it will definitely be interesting," Boals said shortly after Ohio State's practice. "It's humbling (to be considered). I think my focus is helping Thad Matta and Ohio State to win a national championship. This weekend I'll be worried about Ohio State and hopefully we'll be cutting the nets down Monday. Then we'll go from there."

Ohio lost John Groce to Illinois after he led the Bobcats to a Sweet 16 run that ended with a loss to North Carolina. Groce, 40, had been an assistant under Matta at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State before taking the job in Athens.

In his four seasons at Ohio, Groce was 85-56 (34-30 MAC) before helping the Bobcats make their NCAA Tournament run. Groce will take over an Illini program that recently fired Bruce Weber after a 17-15 season that was finished with 12 losses in the team's final 14 games.

Much like Groce did, Boals hopes to one day move on from Ohio State and become a head coach. Boals said Matta encourages advancement, though he hasn't had a conversation with him about the Ohio job yet.

"You don't work for Thad, you work with him," Boals said. "He gives you a lot of empowerment and responsibility and helps you prepare for that situation. There is no better guy in the business – he has no ego at all. He cares about everyone getting the job done. He's been great, obviously with his coaching tree in the short time he's been a head coach is pretty phenomenal.

"He wants guys to who want to be head coaches and his track record with his past assistants, guys have moved on and the ship still sails. There is one common denominator in this program, and that's Coach Matta."

A two-year captain for Ohio, Boals helped lead the Bobcats to the 1994 MAC regular season and tournament championships. Boals, who graduated from Ohio in 1995, said he is most certainly interested in the Bobcats job.

Before Boals can fully indulge in conversations about his potential advancement, however, the assistant said he has maintained full concentration on the Buckeyes as their try to capture their first national title since 1960.

"My goal is to be a head coach someday and if that happens this year, great, and if it doesn't, I am still working for a great guy at a great institution," he said. "It would have to be a special situation to get me to leave Ohio State."

Follow Me on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories