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With a pledge on the table to two seniors to have a new coach by Friday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith’s search for to replace Thad Matta could soon yield results. An ESPN report late Wednesday said that Smith had offered the job to Creighton coach Greg McDermott.
Smith did travel to Omaha, Nebraska, where it’s believed he met with McDermott, but he returned to Columbus early Thursday without him. Upon his arrival, Smith told The Dispatch that no deal is complete for a new coach and that he is still working through a long list of candidates. Smith refused to say who was on the list because of confidentiality.
McDermott, 52, has been with the Bluejays for seven seasons, reaching the NCAA Tournament four times while compiling a 166-82 record (.669). Last season, McDermott’s 23rd as a head coach, Creighton went 25-10 and as a No. 6 seed was upset by Rhode Island in the first round of the tournament. He started at Wayne State (1994-2000) and progressed to North Dakota State (2000-01), Northern Iowa (2001-06) and Iowa State (2006-10).
His Bluejays teams reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in three straight years from 2012 to ’14. Creighton joined the Big East in 2013 and has since gone 86-52, while the Buckeyes were 87-60 during the same period.
Matta was fired Monday after 13 seasons.
Before the search settled on McDermott, one person believed to be under consideration was Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. He shot down the notion he would return to the college ranks in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.
“Anytime your name is associated with great job, it’s an honor,” he said in a message posted to Twitter. “But I’m head coach of the Bulls/have no intention of leaving.”
Hoiberg spent his final two college seasons at Iowa State working under Smith, who was athletic director there.
Current Ohio State assistant Chris Jent interviewed with Smith on Wednesday afternoon, multiple sources told The Dispatch. Other candidates being considered include West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams and Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown. All were confirmed to The Dispatch by multiple sources as under consideration to some degree.
Sources close to Huggins indicated that he let Ohio State know that he was interested in the position with an eye on closing the borders, keeping top in-state talent at Ohio State and chasing a national championship within the next few years before retiring and handing the reins to an up-and-coming coach.
Huggins, an Ohio State assistant from 1978 to ’80 and Cincinnati’s coach from 1989 to 2005, has coached the Mountaineers since 2007 and passed 800 career wins last season.
On Wednesday evening, sources were indicating that Smith would head to Cleveland today to talk with Brown.
Williams, who has been at Virginia Tech since 2014 after having been Marquette’s coach since 2008, was linked to Oklahoma State’s coaching search last year.
The Dispatch learned that Arizona’s Sean Miller and Xavier’s Chris Mack had rejected overtures from OSU. Mack, who is in the process of moving, addressed his situation on Twitter by pointing out that the sale of his current house was inconvenient timing and that his family is merely moving to northern Kentucky.