ATHENS — Georgia will begin its search for its next men’s basketball coach immediately, and indications are Thad Matta’s name is atop the Bulldogs’ list.
Interviews for Mark Fox’s successor will begin Monday in Atlanta, people familiar with the process have confirmed to DawgNation. Matta, the longtime Ohio State coach who was out of coaching in the 2017-18 season, will be the first candidate to sit down with the Bulldogs.
Matta, 50, reportedly already has had discussions with Ole Miss about its coaching vacancy. He stepped down in June 2017 after 13 years as the Buckeyes’ coach in a “mutually agreed” decision believed to be associated with a chronic back ailment. The assumption is that Matta is sufficiently healthy and re-energized to return to coaching.
Ohio State finished 17-15 in Matta’s final season. Before that, the Illinois native led the Buckeyes to nine Big Ten titles (five regular season and four tournament), two Final Fours and one championship game appearance. Including successful stints at Butler and Xavier, Matta’s all-time winning percentage of .740 (439-154) stands 29th among coaches, according to figures kept by sports-reference.com. That’s better than Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim, Lute Olson, Gregg Marshall and Tom Izzo.
Matta’s résumé meshes with the coach metamorphosis we’ve witnessed in the SEC in recent years. The conference has encountered an infusion of experienced and successful coaches, including Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, Mississippi State’s Ben Howland, Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin and South Carolina’s Frank Martin, among others.
Former Indiana coach Tom Crean, 51, also has expressed in interest in Georgia’s position. He was dismissed by the Hoosiers in 2017 after failing to get them past the Sweet 16 on two occasions. College of Charleston coach Earl Grant, who also had stops as an assistant coach at Winthrop, Wichita State and Clemson, is also thought to be a candidate.
Georgia is being assisted in its search by Collegiate Sports Associates from West End, N.C. Former Wake Forest and South Carolina coach Dave Odom is one of the firm’s point people for finding basketball coaching talent.
In the past, the Bulldogs have utilized Dan Parker’s Atlanta-based search firm, Parker Executive Search, for basketball searches. Georgia employed CarrSports Consulting of Gainesville, Fla., in the search that landed football coach Kirby Smart.