Major Excited to Return to Big Ten Country

Men's basketball assistant coach has traveled quite a road to Ohio State. From Purdue to the West Coast to Xavier, Major has coached all across the country and has followed Thad Matta from Xavier to OSU. Kyle Lamb has more on the new hoops assistant.

With just $72 in his pocket, he left to begin his career as an assistant for a Division III school in California. Nearly 15 years after being an eager graduate assistant under long time Purdue coach Gene Keady, Alan Major is returning to the conference where it all began.

During Major's tenure as a G.A. under Keady, he helped then-assistant and former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin operate a basketball camp out in California where he met Thad Matta.

When Matta became Butler's head basketball coach four years ago after being promoted from an administrative assistant job, he called Major, who was then an assistant coach at the University of Pacific.

Matta asked Major if he would return to his home state of Indiana to be on his staff as the two had become pretty close friends. Major was in the second year of a two-year commitment to Pacific and was unable to come.

A year later, however, when Matta was hired at Xavier, Major called Matta to congratulate him. The conversation turned into a heartfelt invitation for Major to follow Matta to Cincinnati, and this time, Major couldn't say no.

"I really wasn't looking for anything at the time," Major said. "I had just fulfilled my commitment to the west coast. He told me I should come back, and I just knew it was the right time."

Apparently, it was the right time.

Major, a native of Indianapolis, was unable to return to his home state the first time around at Butler, but this time saw a golden opportunity at Xavier.

Major said they were arriving at a place that was primed for success by Skip Prosser.

"Our goal as a staff was to try to leave the place just a little better than we found it, because this place was just fine," he explained. "They had won so much for so long, we didn't have to build anything."

By the time Matta told the staff he was planning to accept the Ohio State job this past July, they had compiled three straight 20-win seasons and NCAA appearances. The highlight was this past season's Elite Eight appearance, but in addition, Major was fortunate enough to coach an NBA first-round pick in David West individually.

"I was really fortunate to be the one to coach David (West)," Major said. "Not that I was the reason he went to the NBA or anything like that, because he was going to get there anyways."

"Getting to spend a lot of time with him and challenging a guy that was already pretty good to get a lot better really bonded us," Major added.

Now the staff, including Major, arrives at Ohio State with a new set of challenges, new goals, and an even higher ceiling.

Lost in the excitement of being reunited in the same conference with Keady, for whom he was a student assistant, and Bruce Weber, who he coached under for a season at Southern Illinois, is the shadow looming over the Buckeyes.

A few of which are the impending NCAA investigation towards Jim O'Brien's confession that he loaned $6,000 to former Ohio State recruit Alexander Radojevic as well as allegations by Kathleen Salyers that former assistant coach Paul Biancardi knew of improper housing and benefits being given to Boban Savovic.

"The biggest thing is trying to educate ourselves that maybe we won't get a specific answer, but if we can get an idea on what may happen so we can relay to kids and high school coaches," Major said. "Right now, we're getting the benefit of the doubt since we don't know too much yet."

"We're just hoping to get something in the next month, or two, or three that this is what may or may not happen," he added.

The encouraging thing for Ohio State fans is that they are sensing the punishment, if any, might be on the very forgiving side.

"That's actually the feel we're getting," Major acknowledged. "What that means exactly -- I don't know with the NCAA. But I'd like to think that what Ohio State's done to this point, as professionally done and in a timely fashion as they did, will be looked favorably upon by the NCAA."

And perhaps everything could come to a closure soon.

"The NCAA doesn't have to sort through too much like they did with Michigan or Georgia," Major said. "The feeling I get is that everything is already on the table for them to see."

In the meantime, the staff has been concentrating on just getting acclimated.

Because of the chaotic nature of catching up late in the recruiting period and balancing getting to know the current players, Major said the roles will be undefined, especially this season.

"We all will recruit, we all will scout, and all of us will work on game preparation," Major said. "These duties are ones we all will share as a staff."

That mindset will carry over to the practices as well in working with the players by position.

"We coach all positions," Major concluded. "I think what's good about that is we get to know all of the players better, and not just a few individually."

The staff has been able to talk to each player on a very limited basis throughout the few months they have been at Ohio State.

Although it's been spotty contact and dialogue, they have been able to get to know a few basic things about this team in general.

"I think the guys want to win very badly, they just need some direction as to how to do that," Major explained. "I don't think people talk enough about Coach O'Brien's voice last season and the role it played in Ohio State's development. You communicate with your voice. Not being able to speak very well cut out an awful lot of communication time with his team. I think that was part of the team's problem last season."

The players will make or break a team. So that's why Matta's philosophy is what it is.

"We want to build relationships here, that's what we're all about," Major said.

Find out more on Alan Major in one of the upcoming issues of Bucknuts The Magazine, as we will give you a full bio and more on Major's view of the upcoming team, and how recruiting is shaping up by way of approach and philosophy.

You can also find more on John Groce and Dan Peters as well in upcoming issues. Bucknuts.com will have a bio on John Groce very soon, so stay tuned!


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