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The most honest answers come from people when there is no chance of recourse. The same can be said for college basketball coaches across the country. Many among the top seven leagues were recently asked to compare the jobs in the Big Ten conference. They dished on things like what set them apart, what could be better, and ultimately which were the most appealing in the league for prospective recruits?
When it comes to Ohio State, there are good and bad points as with any program, but when it was all said and done, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello took anonymous feedback (subscription required) from coaches in the league and split all the jobs up into five tiers — one being the top.
It’s very interesting to get an outside take on the OSU program and what others across the country feel about it, so let’s get to all the fun stuff.
NEXT … What tier Ohio State ended up in and why
Ohio State basketball – Tier 1 according to national coaches
Mar 12, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Members of the Ohio State Buckeyes bench react during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Are you surprised? I always say this, but if it weren’t for Ohio State being such a bell-cow in football, it could easily be considered a basketball school. I mean look at Illinois. Many consider the Illini a hoops school but the Buckeyes’ historical numbers are better. It’s just that there have been peaks and valleys in the program and with football being king, it takes a special year for the attention to get where it should be.
Fred Taylor and Thad Matta had the program among the elite for a good number of years, and in-between there were really, really good campaigns, and some not so good ones. Now, Chris Holtmann is trying to build things back up to a championship level and the needle seems to be pointed back up with some really good momentum.
However, there’s a slew of Final Fours, All-Americans, and Big Ten Championships to look at in Columbus.
NEXT … What some of the coaches said about Ohio State
Michigan and Ohio State were grouped together as four of the programs in the top tier (along with Indiana and Michigan State). The two are tied together because they are both seen as football schools and big brands. And while there’s not the perception of being a basketball school like Indiana and Michigan State, that’s more about past history than what the reality is Borzello believes. Just look at some of the comments he got anonymously.
“While Indiana and Michigan State are generally considered better jobs because of their dedication to basketball, Michigan and Ohio State are right there in the top tier with the Hoosiers and the Spartans. In fact, some coaches think the Wolverines and Buckeyes are simply better jobs due to their enormous brands and athletic department resources.”
“I feel like they’re in a group of their own,” one assistant coach said. “They have prestige. Brand name, brand recognition. You can pick up the phone and call any kid in the country and there’s gonna be interest because of the brand. There always seems to be NBA-level players in their home state, year in and year out. You’re going to be, at worst, one of two in the state of Michigan, and in Ohio, one of one.”
“What don’t they have that Indiana and Michigan State have?” another longtime Big Ten assistant added.
Borzello believes a place like Ohio State has a lot of built-in advantages. The state is a good one for high school talent, and there’s been some recent success in getting to Final Fours and winning Big Ten championships. All feathers in the cap and recruiting chips to play up to potential prospects.
“They’ve got a huge alumni base,” a coach said. “When they’re good, the fans appreciate their basketball. It’s a basketball-rich state, they’ve got a tremendous basketball history. They’ve had some good coaching staffs. And when you go on an official visit to a football game, you experience a college football game day, you combine that with great facilities, a great city in Columbus, it’s hard to turn down.”
Borzello also believes that having a perception as a football school could hurt in recruiting if the program experiences a down period. And in all honesty, we’ve seen that with Ohio State from time to time. In fact, Holtmann is still steering the ship out from underneath the decline that started to occur at the tail end of the Matta era. Here’s what some of the coaches told Borzello.
“I don’t think they’ve (Michigan and Ohio State) got the staying power if they take a dip, like Indiana has,” one coach said. “It’s too easy for people to call Michigan and Ohio State football schools. If they dip, they could dip for a while.”
“Michigan is still a football school. That’s a challenge,” another coach added. “Some will say that’s a really good thing because they won’t talk about you until late January. But people don’t really pay attention until you hit it big. Ohio State has one of the worst atmospheres in the league.”
It’s true that football will always be king in Columbus, and it’s also true that the corporate environment that seems to be a part of Value City Arena needs to get better, so we can’t argue with that. However, there is clearly more good than bad when it comes to playing in the scarlet and gray.
Now, let’s look at all five tiers in the Big Ten that became a part of all the feedback.
NEXT … The five tiers in the Big Ten according to college coaches
Five Big Ten basketball tiers for quality enticements of recruits
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann on the bench in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Purdue at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Tier 1 Schools
Tier 2 Schools
Tier 3 Schools
Illinois Fighting Illini
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Tier 4 Schools
Tier 5 Schools
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Penn State Nittany Lions
These tiers could always change, but having Ohio State among the top is an easy argument to make. I’ve always balked at coaches that say the Buckeye program isn’t Duke or North Carolina so don’t get used to going to Final Fours and year-in and year-out NCAA Tournament appearances. There’s plenty to work with at OSU and that needs to be embraced. Frankly, the expectations should be higher in a lot of cases.