2023 Ohio State University
Chris Holtmann has now been the Head Coach at Ohio State for six seasons and has a record of (123-75). In this time Holtmann has become the second most winningest coach in school history based off of win percentage as he trails only the former Buckeyes coach in Thad Matta. But coming off a very disappointing season in 2022-23 that left many fans calling for Holtmann to be fired, his coaching ability has been called into question. So what should Ohio State do about their Head Coach who was just granted a contract extension this past summer that will keep him there until 2028 and a buyout that would cost Ohio State $20 million if they were to outright fire him? That question leaves the Buckeyes with a couple of options.
While this seems to be one of the more unpopular decisions heading into the 2023 offseason from fans it is the most likely one. Holtmann has put together an incredible resume in a very short time at Ohio State and the only knock against the 51 year old coach is a severe lack of postseason success and one bad season. In his tenure at Ohio State the Buckeyes have had five 20 plus win seasons and he became just the second coach to accomplish that feat in their first five years at the school. He is also the second winningest coach based on win percentage and has the seventh most wins by a coach in program history and will move up the list to fifth next season. He has also brought in four top 30 recruiting classes with a fifth on the way and this upcoming class may be his most important one to date. If Chris Holtmann can land the diamond of the class in Bronny James, the son of LeBron James, many people believe that it is enough to save his job.
However, Bronny James will likely be a one and done college athlete no matter where he decides to go and this will be a short break on the criticism for Holtmann over the summer. One of the biggest issues fans had with him was his play calling in late game situations. A scenario in which the Buckeyes lost more than a few games this past season. If Holtmann can't address this issue than no recruit is going to be able to save his job.
Send Him Elsewhere
This is one of the more complicated scenarios that could end up being one of the most beneficial for all parties involved. If Ohio State struggles again this next season then it will become the most likely option. This scenario has already played out this season thanks to Notre Dame attempting to steal Holtmann away from Ohio State. But, Holtmann has stated many times he has no desire to leave Columbus and is committed to the Buckeyes. But this sets the table for what fans could expect to see next season. If Holtmann was to leave Ohio State for another school instead of being outright fired than the Buckeyes would not have to pay the remainder of his contract nor would they have to pay the buyout. So Holtmann would still get paid elsewhere and Ohio State would not be out any money and would be able to find a new coach. A bad 2023-24 season would likely push Ohio State into this scenario.
This is the worst case scenario for Ohio State and as much as some fans would like to see this happen it is the least likely and probably the worst thing that could happen to Buckeye basketball. Like him or not Holtmann has become a big name in the basketball landscape over the last decade and is one of the most promising coaches in the sport. Firing him would not only put the university into a hole financially it would likely also damage the program for the next few years. With the financial hole that it would create the Buckeyes would likely have to take a shot at hiring one of the young up and coming coaches with no proven history of success instead of a well developed experienced coach. Which isn't always a bad thing, but it could damage the great series of recruiting that Ohio State has experienced and there's no guarantee that it would work out.
What Should They Do?
Personally I believe that Holtmann should be kept on through the 2023-24 season and be reevaluated next offseason. He has five tremendous seasons in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation and is rapidly becoming one of the best recruiters in the country. While he definitely has problems that need addressing he showed late in the season this year that the Buckeyes were building towards something better in Columbus following their conference tournament run to the semifinals. If universities fired every new coach after one bad season no one would have a coach. Bad seasons are a part of college basketball. No matter the outcome of the Bronny James recruitment, Chris Holtmann is going to have to deliver another 20 plus win season with a Sweet 16 appearance to restore the faith back in the Buckeye fanbase. But both Holtmann and athletic director Gene Smith have shown a commitment towards one another and building towards the future of the program so an ending to the Holtmann era seems unlikely anytime soon.