The next 24-hours at Oklahoma State University and in the halls of the OSU athletic department will be very interesting. The loss of Brad Underwood as basketball coach after one season when so many fans and supporters had bought in was devastating. It rocked every level of Cowboy fan from student to high level booster and all in between. When a coach most don't like leaves, then it is easy. When a coach that could have run for mayor leaves then everyone is looking for someone else to blame.
This is not a job as easy to fill as it would seem. Coming off a strong comeback season with a coach that preached "tradition and family" yet took off less than 24 hours after the season ended in the NCAA Tournament, Brad Underwood made Oklahoma State look like a fleeting mid major that coaches look to escape from. The reality is that Oklahoma State is a really good job. Actually, will be made better by the $3-million infusion from Illinois on the buyout because that can be used to bring the Travis Ford settlement back to close to zero and the books on basketball coaching salary close to even.
Still, Underwood's quick departure will need to be explained and it will cause coaching candidates to tread carefully while looking at coaching the Cowboys in storied Gallagher-Iba Arena. One good aspect for the next coach is Underwood's departure takes a lot of the shine off his quick to adapt and make friends and fans approach when he came in. Underwood leaves a good coach that many will feel hoodwinked Oklahoma State fans in believing he was not just drinking, but making the orange kool-aid. In the end he kind of was, but his departure to Illinois means he was looking for a little more green in his orange drink.
That said, let's look at the candidates, at least the ones we feel like bringing up. We know there are many, many candidates that are out there.
Gregg Marshall from Wichita State is still a pipe dream. He won't budge from Wichita for anyone other than Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, UCLA, and, maybe, Indiana.
Ben Howland of Mississippi State is well traveled and while newspapers may list him, I don't see Oklahoma State looking for a gypsy.
Dan Hey is a hot name, but a back East product that won't likely see Oklahoma State and Stillwater as a long-term destination. Believe me, Mike Holder, Oklahoma State supporters, and the OSU Board of Regents want someone that will take off their shoes and stay awhile.
Danny Manning is at an ACC school on the poor side of "Tobacco Road" and I don't see him leaving even to come back to the Big 12.
Buzz Williams at Virginia Tech really wanted this job a few years ago, but now, I'm not sure. He would be interesting.
Tom Crean is a big name, successful, and wow, he is the brother-in-law to the Harbaughs. I can see the connection made and Mike Gundy and Jim Harbaugh holding satellite camps together and thumbing their noses at the NCAA. Crean would make life interesting and maybe, he could see Stillwater as a more permanent home after what he went through at red colored-blue blooded Indiana.
Chris Collins is a hot name and his kid was entertaining on the Gonzaga-Northwestern broadcast. At least, it seemed like his kid. The emotions of families in big-time college sports. Collins is a blue-blood coach and likely has his eyes like a lot of Duke grads on being next after Coach K.
Now, here are my more serious candidates:
Doug Gottlieb, Oklahoma State alum, no true coaching experience
I did not back or really push Gottlieb last time. My first choice was Brad Underwood, well before he was actually hired. I drank that kool-aid before it ever came to Stillwater. I am a card carrying member of the "At Oklahoma State it is Best to Hire Alums Club." I befriended Doug when he came to Oklahoma State, especially as he neared graduation and he did his first radio with me over at Stillwater Radio. I helped with housing for his wedding. I roomed with Gottlieb on the road with the Oklahoma Storm. I know his family. I know Doug has not coached professionally, but I know that he is also one of the most intelligent basketball minds I have ever been around. Our days rooming together proved that to me. He is a people person to the extreme. He loves Oklahoma State and Stillwater and with his wife, Angie, having her family living right down the road from Stillwater they have dreamed of moving home and staying there. You may have seen the Dorothy video tweet on Saturday with "There's no place like home."
Gottlieb could do the PR, excite the fans, recruit like crazy. He has told me he has a dynamite staff ready to roll and it doesn't include former teammates and buddies. His brother would be there and it is logical and desired as his brother is a top flight Division I assistant that is currently at Cal-Berkeley but did a long stint with former Michigan head coach Steve Fisher in helping build the San Diego State program.
Doug and Gregg's father, the late Bob Gottlieb was a tremendous basketball coach that served as an assistant under Eddie Sutton at Creighton and Jack Hartman at Kansas State before being a head coach at Jacksonville and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I had enough discussions with Bob to know that the apple in Doug fell straight out of the tree. Apparently, Gregg too.
Doug has said he has two former Division I head coaches, not from Oklahoma State that would be with him to provide wisdom and experience. A fiesty and emotional Doug Gottlieb will need a "Yoda" and I think he knows that.
No experience in a business that makes decisions on experience is dangerous. I go back to alums Mike Gundy, John Smith, and Josh Holliday. They had experience, but none had been head coaches until their alma-mater made them one. I'll be the first to admit it is out of the box, but sometimes out of the box works. We know alumni ties work at Oklahoma State.
Danny Henderson, Austin College, OSU and Boise assistant and Texas HS Hall of Famer
If you paid attention to the Oklahoma State bench this season then you saw that virtually the only coach carrying on pertinent game strategy discussions with Underwood was Danny Henderson. The Texas High School Hall of Fame coach that guided four state champions in the Lone Star State is a brilliant basketball mind. He coached not only Phil Forte, but apparently kept talented Marcus Smart in check and on point, probably easier to do in high school than college. Henderson showed he was a strong assistant at Boise State under Leon Rice and further confirmed it at OSU with Underwood. He would not be a sexy hire, but he might be a right hire and might believe in Stillwater and family more than his most recent boss did.
I like Henderson and I like graduates of Austin College, small school in Sherman, Texas for smart people. The last one that spent a sizeable time coaching at Oklahoma State was Larry Fedora in football. He turned out to be a good head coach.
Kermit Davis, Mississippi State, multiple times a head coach at Division I and 14-yrs at Middle Tennessee
A son of the south, Davis is a heckuva a coach, but while he has been to Idaho as head coach twice and Texas A&M, it seems he is destined to stay at Middle Tennessee State. His first round engineered upset of Minnesota was fun. His team is solid and he has been there for 14-years. Would he leave at this stage? I'd be tempted to ask, simply because he has shown now at MTSU that if it works, he's a stayer. Oklahoma State needs a stayer. By the way, one of his current assistants at MTSU is a blast from the past in former OSU player and assistant and OCU head coach Win Case.
Ben Jacobsen, North Dakota, North Dakota to Northern Iowa and been there as HC for 11-years
Jacobsen grew up and played high school and college in North Dakota, so Stillwater and Oklahoma State would seem like a metropolitan move. He's been at Northern Iowa for 11-years and has been successful. I really only know him from results. No deep study here, not going to lie. Like Davis, he appears to be a stayer and not a guy looking to climb the ladder for more money and more stature. He takes the school he is at and looks to maximize it. That is a major quality that Oklahoma State needs to look for in the next man.
Andy Enfield, Johns Hopkins, Corporate Exec to NBA asst. to Leonard Hamilton asst. to Florida Gulf Coast and USC HC
Very interesting candidate because he traded a career as a corporate executive armed with a Johns Hopkins undergrad and Maryland MBA to be a shooting coach in the NBA for the Bucks and the Celtics before settling in as an assistant for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. Give him credit because I know Hamilton looks to hire coaches smarter than himself in basketball IQ. He showed what he could do as head coach at tiny Florida Gulf Coast University and has done well at USC.
Two other things to know about him. Most know his wife is smoking hot former swimsuit and Maxim Magazine model Amanda Marcum of Mustang, Okla. He is formerly of Shippensburg, Pa. He grew up and went to high school there. The question is how important is going home to family? They talked a great game in an Oklahoman story from this weekend's Tulsa regional site, but how much do they like LA and USC?
Boy, you can sure beat that LA cost of living in Stillwater, a million dollars goes a lot further in Stillwater, two million even more.
Scott Cross, UT-Arlington, UTA head coach for 11-years
His team beat Texas in Austin this season and won the Southland but lost in the postseason conference tournament. He is from Arlington, played at UTA, coached at Tyler J.C. as head coach and then moved on to take over at UTA. He is much younger, but he is my Brad Underwood-style candidate. He is out of that league and I like all there is about him. Knowledge of this region recruiting, especially the DFW-area. He will have a bigger program and tradition to recruit to. He has a wife and three young children that are perfect to be raised in a place like Stillwater. I like the way his teams play. You'd have to get the microscope out and get more detailed but on the surface he looks very promising. He is a stayer at UTA but it is home and alma mater. I have to think he wanted to check that off the list and then move on to a major school that suited he and his family.
I add this at the end. Athletic director Mike Holder has a very able assistant and somebody I think is really smart and has strong intuition in scouring and hiring coaches, maybe especially basketball coaches in senior associate athletic director Kevin Klintworth. Kevin Klintworth is a great behind the scenes aid in this process.