Oklahoma State lost twice over the weekend. Once when Michigan bounced them from the NCAA Tournament, 92-91, and again when Brad Underwood bolted Stillwater for Champaign, Illinois to become the next head coach of the Fighting Illini. The ins and outs of why he left may never be fully known but there’s really no way to spin this in a good way for OSU.
Less than a year after after hiring Underwood, the Cowboys are back to square one with a basketball vacancy. There’s also the appearance that Oklahoma State has become a stepping stone job…even for the likes of Illinois. Neither look good for the basketball program.
The truest of fans wouldn’t believe this to be true, and would actually be offended by such nonsense…except for the fact that the Cowboys actually are back to square one. Even so, there’s no shortage of high-profile candidates that should make an immediate jump on Oklahoma State’s shortlist.
Tom Crean | Yes, he did just get dumped by Indiana but the former Hoosier and Marquette coach has Final Four experience and undoubtedly has a chip on his shoulder now.
Chris Collins, Northwestern | He’s one of the hottest names in college basketball right now. He won’t be at Northwestern long and since someone is going to land him then he should be one of the first calls made.
Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech | He’s a guy with connections to the state of Oklahoma and has tournament experience at Marquette and Virginia Tech.
Danny Manning, Wake Forest | It just makes sense. Kansas has a former Oklahoma State player running their program so…
The reason behind Underwood’s departure seems to stem around conflict between he and athletic director Mike Holder. It’s no secret that football coach Mike Gundy has had a rocky relationship with Holder as well but Underwood, unlike Gundy, wasn’t a graduate and jumped ship for the money rather than continuing to deal with whatever his frustrations were. The three million dollars per year that Illinois is going to pony up will cure a lot of headaches.
So where does this leave Holder? Part of the problem with Underwood was the terrible contract extension that Holder gave Travis Ford thus leaving an unwillingness, and light pockets, to get to where Underwood wanted to be financially. Instead, Holder reportedly shot insults Underwood’s way and Illinois got themselves a new basketball coach.
Truth be told, Holder has to deliver on this next hire. It absolutely has to be a home tun or he’s going to see a significant uptick in the pressure that he’s already experiencing. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the situation in Stillwater is volatile right now but there certainly seems to be a storm brewing.