I’m a huge fan of Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta. This season is a great example of why he’s a wonderful coach and excellent representative of my alma mater.
Coach Matta had to replace Jared Sullinger, a dominant center who led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and, last year, a Final Four. Sullinger left early for the NBA — but Coach Matta is used to that. He recruits top-notch talent, and he’s lost many players who turned pro after a year or two at Ohio State. When that happens, he cheerfully accepts the challenge of reshaping his team, and each year he rises to that challenge. This year’s team has compiled a 22-7 record and is contending for another Big Ten title.
I hope every Ohio State fan remembers what it was like before Coach Matta came to Columbus. For every good year, Ohio State had many sad seasons of futility and sketchy talent. That changed immediately when the Matta years began. Under Coach Matta, the Buckeyes have won 20 games every year and routinely are in the fight for the Big Ten regular season title. He recruits terrific players and they improve under his coaching. His teams play with grit and passion. His tenure has not been tainted by scandals or investigations. With this record, how can you not appreciate what Thad Matta has done for Ohio State basketball — and be grateful that he has chosen to stay here?
Thad Matta obviously is a wonderful college basketball coach, but he’s also a great person. He’s a family man. He’s dealt, uncomplainingly, with painful health issues that would have made most people angry and bitter, yet he has a great sense of humor that he displays whenever he faces a microphone. He’s active in the community, and thoughtful and decent and well-spoken in his dealings with fans and the media and opposing coaches alike.
As I’ve said before, I believe in the power of saying “thank you.” Coach Matta, thank you for giving us another great season! (Now, let’s be sure to beat Illinois on Sunday.)