Peters Excited About Chance To Join Matta's Staff

When Thad Matta became Ohio State's new men's basketball coach in July, he quickly acted to bring two of his Xavier assistants, Alan Major and John Groce, with him. But for the third slot on his staff, Matta pulled off quite a coup. He lured Dan Peters, who was serving as Bob Huggins' right-hand man at Cincinnati. Click here for more on Peters and why he opted to come to Ohio State at this stage in his career.

Much has been made this week about the coach who left Ohio State for Cincinnati. But OSU also took a coach from the University of Cincinnati not too long ago as new men's basketball coach Thad Matta asked UC assistant Dan Peters to join him in Columbus.

Peters was actually serving as UC's interim head coach during head coach Bob Huggins' suspension for a drunken driving arrest. Those circumstances notwithstanding, Peters found it hard to leave Huggins. He had spent eight years as an assistant to Huggins, three at Walsh College and the last five at UC.

"That was the hardest thing for me," Peters said. "He has been one of my very best friends for 25 years. I'll be honest with you. That was the most difficult thing."

Peters was born in Cleveland and grew up in Canton, where he attended Canton Central Catholic.

He went on to Kent State before jumping into the coaching ranks. He worked at several Ohio high schools before jumping into the college ranks at Delta State University in Mississippi in 1979. A year later, Huggins called and asked him to join him as an assistant at Walsh. He became the head coach there for a five-year stint before moving into Division I as an assistant at Western Carolina and Akron.

He was then a head coach at St. Joseph's in Indiana before landing the head coaching job at Youngstown State. He stayed in that position for six years before rejoining Huggins at UC in 1999.

Of course, UC and Xavier go head to head every year, so Peters was well acquainted with Matta.

"I think Thad is a very positive person," Peters said. "He had Midwest values. I think he will do an unbelievable job here and he has an opportunity to be here for an extended period of time. He has the opportunity to build something pretty special. That's a pretty neat thought."

Peters discussed his thoughts on making the jump from Cincinnati to Ohio State.

"I was very humbled when Thad called me," Peters said. "If you're born and raised in the state of Ohio and have the opportunity to coach at Ohio State, you're kind of really excited about that. I have always believed it's one of the top 10 schools in the country, maybe one of the top five. In my mind, there is no reason why we don't have whatever it takes to be in one of the best conferences in the country. We can recruit the best players in the country. I looked at it as a great opportunity and a great challenge.

"The first thing would be the integrity and the class with what you see around the campus and the people you meet, without question. I don't think anybody could even remotely second guess that. Second, educationally, I don't think you can ask for a better education. There are 177 majors and the support staff and the academic resources here make it just an unbelievable opportunity for young people."

Peters joins Alan Major and John Groce, whom Matta brought with him from Xavier.

When asked about particular roles for the OSU assistants, Peters said, "Everybody is going to be involved in everything, which I think is good. One guy will not just strictly recruit and another guy will not just strictly coach. You're talking about building a family atmosphere. I think everybody needs to take ownership. That includes the players. They have to take ownership as well. When we have a young man on campus, how are they helping the recruiting process? That's very important. We all know that if you own something, you'll take better care of it."

Peters said he enjoys recruiting the state of Ohio and believes, typically, the talent and coaching in this staff are as good as anywhere in the country.

"I have been in this state all but three or four years of my life," he said. "We have good people in the state. When you go and share some time with them, most of the people are responsive and receptive. I look forward to getting people excited about this program across the state.

"You always hear people say, `It's a football school.' But I say it's a football state that loves basketball, too. We have as big as diehard fans as anybody in the country. We have very good high school coaches in this state. They do a great job with the effort they put forth. They go to clinics and camps. They're always working to be better coaches. I would put our coaches up against any state in the country."

Peters is also excited to get to work with OSU's returning nucleus of players.

"You walk in the office and they say, `Coach, how are you today?' They're glad to see you," he said. "I like our guys. I think they're classy individuals. I see an excitement. I don't know if they feel this is a new beginning, but I do see an excitement there."

Peters and his wife, Nancy, have two high school aged sons, Danny Joe and Michael.

Bucknuts The Magazine will have features on Peters, Major and Groce in an upcoming edition. We also plan to introduce Major and Groce in the days ahead.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories