Let the debate about the merits of Thad Matta as Georgia’s next basketball coach begin in Athens.
The former Ohio State is reportedly a “serious candidate” to replace Mark Fox as the Bulldogs basketball coach, according to a report from Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports.
Rothstein reports that discussions between the Bulldogs and Matta could begin as early as Sunday.
Former Ohio State HC Thad Matta is a serious candidate for the vacancy at Georgia, per multiple sources. Discussions between both sides could begin as early as today.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 11, 2018
The Bulldogs announced on Saturday they are parting ways with Fox.
Rothstein’s report is in line with DawgNation’s Seth Emerson’s thinking on who could be the right fit as Fox’s replacement. Both Matta and former Indiana coach Tom Crean were mentioned as top choices in his piece on candidates for the next Georgia basketball coach.
Emerson wrote the following on Matta’s candidacy at UGA:
Thad Matta, former Ohio State coach: Another coaching free agent, though under different circumstances. Matta stepped down from Ohio State last year amid health reasons. Matta is actually two years younger than Crean, and Matta reportedly also has met with Ole Miss, so he seems ready to get back in. If he is, Georgia would be advised to check in on a veteran who was successful at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State — but who, like Crean, could wait to see what else is available. Matta does have a Georgia connection: His brother Greg is the coach at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw.
In another piece on the financial implications of Georgia’s basketball coaching search, Emerson contemplated the viability of Matta as a candidate from a financial perspective.
“Matta was earning more than $3 million when he was fired by Ohio State last year,” Emerson wrote. “But he was also due a buyout of $9 million. That could make him more willing to take a discount at his next job.”
USA Today’s Dan Wolken expressed some concern about Matta’s ability to recruit Atlanta, which is a vital responsibility for whoever takes Fox’s job.
“Good coach, but can he recruit Atlanta?” Wolken wrote on Twitter after Rothstein’s report surfaced. “He got fired at Ohio State because his recruiting absolutely cratered.”
Matta, 50, went 337-123 during his tenure at Ohio State, which stretched from 2004-17. He took the Buckeyes to the Final Four in 2007 and 2012.
Matta and Crean are two coaches who have been heavily associated with the Bulldogs opening since the news broke yesterday, but one wildcard name that has raised some eyebrows is former Louisville coach Rick Pitino. ESPN’s Jay Williams reported Saturday evening that there may be some smoke there, but given his issues with the NCAA it seems like a long shot.
During the SEC Tournament title game telecast on Sunday afternoon. ESPN commentator Dick Vitale indicated that the Georgia opening was a “peach” of a job that should be highly coveted in the coaching community.
It will be interesting to watch this situation continue to develop. Stay tuned, UGA fans.