The Ohio State Buckeyes, suddenly in the market for a basketball coach, are apparently swinging for the fences.
That’s right. CBS Sports is reporting that Fred Hoiberg , the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, has emerged as a “real candidate” for the job. If the Buckeyes were able to nab him, it would be a home run hire, says one respected analyst.
One Cleveland, Ohio radio station took the report one step further.
Not could be, or maybe — will be.
But Hoiberg, in remarks late Wednesday, said he has no intention of leaving the Bulls.
Ohio State needs a coach because Thad Matta and Ohio State agreed on Monday that he would step down after 13 seasons at the helm. Matta cited health reasons related to a bad back; athletic director Gene Smith cited loses on the recruiting trail and the need for new leadership. In a press release, Ohio State said it would embark on a national search.
Hoiberg has coached in college before, when he coached five seasons at Iowa State from 2010-2015. He was 115-56 and leveraged that success to become head coach of the Chicago Bulls, where he’s gone 83-81 over the last two years. He has three years and $15 million left on his Bulls contract, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, which threw some cold water on some of the reports. The newspaper reported that Hioberg has not been contacted by Ohio State, and that “doesn’t bode well for him being a serious contender at this point in the process.”
Why would Hoiberg look to leave? Bulls executives haven’t exactly been supportive. The team’s best player, Jimmy Butler, has been the subject of repeated trade rumors, and general manager John Paxson gave his coach the ultimate back-handed complement when he told reporters, “I think Fred’s challenge this offseason is to find ways to be a better leader,’’ though he’s getting better, as reported in the Sun-Times.
Ohio State is trending down. They went 17-15 last year — the first time the team has won fewer than 20 games under Matta — and suffered recruiting woes as well. Since the end of the season, Ohio State lost JaQuan Lyle to a transfer, Trevor Thompson to the NBA draft, and then prized 2018 recruit, Darius Bazley, decommit. Bazley cited Ohio State 17-win season in which the team failed to make the NCAA or NIT tournament, according to Yahoo Sports.