Potential Candidates to Replace Brad Underwood at Oklahoma State

Dan Muller is an intriguing mid-major candidate. [USATSI]
Written by Kyle Boone

Hey, did you hear the news? Brad Underwood kicked OSU to the curb a day after its first round loss to Michigan on Friday, opting to get absolutely paid in Champaign to be the coach for the Fighting Illini.

Almost 365 days after Underwood was hired, we have another coaching search on our hands. Somehow, some way, Mike Holder and Oklahoma State have to swallow the gut punch from Underwood leaving and launch a new search. They have to start from scratch and hit the trail quickly, with the pool of candidates being fished from by many other major schools looking to fill vacancies. Here’s a look at some candidates OSU should look at and why.

Dan Muller — Illinois State head coach

KenPom Ranks for Illinois State in 2016-17: Offense: 115 | Defense: 18

Since taking over at Illinois State in 2013, Muller has grown the Redbirds program from little-known Missouri Valley Conference team to perennial conference title contender. He’s a young up-and-comer (41 years old) and has plenty of coaching left in his promising career.

You know who else did something similar in grooming an MVC team into a national power? Gregg Marshall at Wichita State.

Here’s this: Muller’s Illinois State team won the regular season MVC title this season over Wichita State, but failed to win the conference tournament and missed an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. In part because of a poor non-conference schedule, and in part because the MVC is a one-bid league.

Muller’s salary is believed to be in the ball park of $400,000, according to the Des Moines Register. So nabbing him from a mid-major program and getting him on a cheap deal (with the agreement that his buyout will be eleventy-million dollars and slightly higher for schools named Illinois) is an intriguing prospect. Illinois State won 28 games this season and notched wins over Tulsa and Wichita State and was also named Missouri Valley Coach of the Year over Gregg Marshall. The lure of coaching in the Big 12 would be impossible to turn down — along with the money. Muller previously served as an assistant coach to Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt. Stallings is now the head coach at Pitt who replaced TCU head coach Jamie Dixon.

Andy Enfield — University of Southern California

KenPom ranks for USC in 2016-17: Offense: 38 | Defense: 86

You remember Dunk City, right? Andy Enfield was the wizard behind that magical Florida Gulf Coast NCAA Tournament run several years ago. After that season, he went to the West Coast to take the job as the head coach at USC, where he has been only moderately successful until lately. The Trojans are a game away from a Sweet 16 appearance, having barely snuck into the field of 68, and play Baylor on Sunday for a chance to likely play Duke.

The lure for Enfield is simple: Get the heck away from the West Coast. The Pac-12 is awful. Unless you’re Arizona or UCLA or Oregon, it’s pretty difficult to find success in a mostly average basketball conference. USC is a legitimate school with very solid resources, sure, but it’s also a football school. And I get the feeling that while USC has had relative success and is trending in the right direction, a Sweet 16 appearance every five years is maybe the ceiling for that program. So a chance to move to the Bible Belt, because it is believed that his wife is an Oklahoman, could be appealing. He’s had some success, and his wide-open offensive system is intriguing. The Trojans ranked 38th at KenPom in offensive efficiency this season.

Doug Gottlieb — Analyst, radio personality

Gottlieb likely won’t be first on OSU’s list, simply because he has no coaching experience. But if you’re looking at the coaching search from a year ago, it’s easy to see why he makes the list again. He’s a former OSU basketball player. He absolutely has passion for Oklahoma State. And he’s a smart X’s and O’s guy. By his own account, he was the runner-up to the man who bolted for life in Champaign City.

Gottlieb would not command an outrageous salary. He would not bounce for another job elsewhere, and he dang sure knows how to rally a fanbase behind him.

“I know that coach (Eddie) Sutton wanted me on that sideline, and I know that former teammates wanted me on that sideline,” Gottlieb told the Tulsa World. “Brad said he was loyal but has not shown to be loyal. I don’t want the job sheerly out of loyalty, but that’s a destination job.”

The obvious knock: He has no coaching experience. So while he might be able to talk about pinwheel action and have you drooling with his informative periscopes, handing him a job as a Division I head basketball coach comes with some risk. Does Holder want to please a portion of the fan base that has voiced its support for Gottlieb, or does he have a sure thing elsewhere? I think a sure thing trumps him. But I’m not sure there’s a Brad Underwood in this current pool.

Tim Jankovich — Southern Methodist University

KenPom ranks for SMU in 2016-17: Offense: 10 | Defense: 30

The SMU basketball program was left for dead after Larry Brown stepped down, but in his first year as the head coach at SMU, Tim Jankovich led the Ponies to an incredible 30-5 record. Jankovich was a head coach at Illinois State from 2007-2012, and he has a very interesting coaching history.

He was a former Oklahoma State assistant in 1992-1993, and he spent four years on Bill Self’s staff at Kansas as an assistant coach and also under Self at Illinois the year prior.

Tom Crean — Unemployed (Former Indiana head coach)

KenPom ranks for Indiana in 2016-17: Offense: 28 | Defense: 106

Tom Crean won more outright Big Ten titles in the past nine years than Thad Matta, Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan and John Beilein while he was at Indiana. In fact, he won at outright title a year ago — and was let go recently for a lackluster 2016-17 campaign in which injuries derailed the Hoosiers.

Crean is widely regarded as a brilliant tactician, a hard worker, and an all-around good coach. And he’s proven he can win big on the biggest stages with a ton of pressure like he had in Bloomington. Making the move to Oklahoma State would be out of the blue, random, but interesting. He turned around Indiana after its scandal, so surely he could turn around OSU, which is on the rise. And because he was fired, Indiana already paid the buy out. However Crean was making more than $3 million at Indiana. So would he take a pay cut from his last gig?

Archie Miller — Dayton

KenPom ranks for Dayton in 2016-17: Offense: 53 | Defense: 40

Archie Miller is going to be in line for a big job when he wants it. In fact, the Dayton head coach’s name has been linked to Indiana after Crean’s firing. The brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, Archie is an absolute lock of a good coach. He’s coached at Dayton since 2012, and the Flyers have lost less than 20 games just once in his tenure. His salary, according to one database called Boyds Bets, is less than $1 million. So buying him out and giving him double his salary seems feasbile. But getting into a bidding war with Indiana might not be Holder’s cup of tea.

Buzz Williams — Virginia Tech

KenPom ranks for Virginia Tech in 2016-17: Offense: 23 | Defense: 154

Buzz was a name linked to OSU last season, and as a fit, it makes absolute sense. He’s an Oklahoma City University grad, he knows the Midwest well, and bringing him back in the area from Blacksburg makes a whole lot of sense.

The problem is his contract. Buzz is making around $2.6 million to coach at Virginia Tech. And that number is higher than what OSU was willing to pay Underwood. So would OSU not only up the ante, but potentially go to the $3 million per year mark for a coach like Buzz?

  • Christian Baker

    I hope with all my heart this isn’t our actual list.

    • David Einstein

      It is.

      • guest

        its not the list, just a bunch of names

    • DataAddict

      Care to explain? Otherwise, your comment boils down to nothing more than flame-bait.

    • Shanewill3

      Really, why? Seems like a pretty solid list to me.

    • frankwick

      who would you add?

  • Jim Hand

    “with the agreement that his buyout will be eleventy-million dollars…”
    I literally LOL’d while reading this..thanks for the laugh Kyle, hadn’t done that for 22 hours.

  • David Einstein

    Doug or bust.

    I do like Muller though.

    • DataAddict


      Doug or BUST . . . except for that other guy that might be awesome.

      • David Einstein

        I don’t really have anything to offer but bad takes at this point. I just want a good team and somebody that likes the program. Just got some watching Self and Izzo. Two programs on different hemispheres now.

      • Beth Robinson

        I like Doug as an analyst, but it would be risky to hire someone with no coaching experience.

        • DataAddict

          “Risky” is the most kind adjective for this… :/

  • OKsailor

    Jankovich seems like an interesting candidate on the surface.

  • Pokefan1981

    Nobody said OSU couldn’t pay 3+ mil for a coach, just that that coach wasn’t going to be Underwood.

    • casemac0000


  • Saucy Takes

    Keiton page!

    • Mike Gundy :)

      Now that’s a saucy take!!

  • DataAddict

    Except for Buzz Williams and Tom Crean (both being WAY too f#cking expensive), these all seem to be good candidates.

    I wonder about Archie Miller… Does he perspire to the extent of his older brother, Sean?

    • Kyle Boone

      Crean is unemployed. So a $2.5 million salary would be $2.5 million more than he’s making now.

      • casemac0000

        I like Crean, we just got $3M in free money so we can pay someone more. Illinois just helped us land someone better.

      • DataAddict

        OK, but he *was* getting paid that sort of money (i.e. $3+ million) by Indiana…

  • oSuJones

    I think we are forgetting something about Underwood and this season. Though OSU was more competitive and players improved, we still didn’t get it done against top-tier talent. Let’s give the run down here…lost to NC, Maryland, Baylor twice, three times to Iowa State, twice to Kansas. Yes, we split the WV series and were competitive in a lot of games, but he still didn’t get those wins. I just think that we are blowing this out of proportion for a team that went 9-9 in conference. He had an all-star PG in Evans and some strong leadership from Forte and Hammonds. To say that Underwood deserved $3 mil/year for this first year is not right.

    • DataAddict

      I think SOME (maybe most?) fans are forgetting this. But I sure as hell am not, as I wholeheartedly agree with you.

      Yeah, Holder has screwed up before but NOT this time. Anyone who suggests otherwise is delusional and/or willfully ignorant of reality.

      • Chance Branson

        Look at what he had to work with. He has an undersized sll star point gaurd and a guy who can only shoot 3’s when not guarded by someone over 6 foot and a much improved jeff carrol who he developed because ford couldnt! I agree 3 million was to much but i would bet money 2.5 range would’ve been enough to make him stay!

    • James

      I agree.

      • casemac0000

        Nobody deserves a raise when you have Mitch guarding point guards on the 3pt line.

      • Sean Flanagan

        Same here. We were way improved over last year, but that was without Evans and Forte for a large part of the season. That defensive turnaround everybody was raving about was against the weaker part of the league and teams not having a lot of tape on the switch yet. Once the scouting had beven done the defense went back to porous.

    • Tj Smith-johnson

      I’ve made that exact point, have OSU Travis Ford results, and a Travis Ford one and out, went 9-9 in a down big 12 with two of the best players… Horrific defense, Stillwater starting to get to many coaches worrying about money, good””coaches wanting great coaches money$$$

    • Vintage97poke

      This exactly. There’s a lot of guys that could prob get this team to 9-9. We were like a person leaving an abusive relationship and the next sig other was really nice 2 us. Does that make them irreplaceable??

      • oSuJones

        Haha no joke….except now after that first abusive relationship we were basically just a one night stand for the next one.

    • Kurt_Freudenberger

      You forgot them destroying Wichita State and Arkansas. Also, they lost by 1 to Maryland on the road after controlling the whole game. Took a historic shooting night by Michigan for them to lose by 1.

      The only teams that beat the crap out of them were North Carolina and WV, one of which was avenged hard.

    • Dont Ask

      I’m surmising Underwood might have agreed to less than he’s getting from Illinois if he didn’t have to work for a dick of an AD…..

  • Maybe
    NO WAY
    NO WAY

  • samwise2019

    What about Kermit Davis at MTSU?

  • Cam

    Desmond Mason. End of Story.

    • Chris

      He’s been too busy focusing on #iAMart, not basketball.

    • Doug wants to bring mason with him. He told that to holder last year.

  • Darryl

    Can’t go higher than what Holder offered Underwood which is a reported $2.2 million. If you are going higher with the replacement then OSU should have just given that to Underwood.

    • Vintage97poke

      I’ve said this multiple times. Holder is limited w his options

  • Doc Holliday

    I like Archie Miller a lot…I think of Gottlieb like this..he’s not my first pick but if he is chosen for the job then I’ll be for him 1000000% just as I would anyone else chosen to be HC

  • BBrown

    Doug Gottlieb with Desmond Mason as an assistant

  • Philo Farnsworth

    F#ck it, I’m on the bring Doug home bandwagon now, not a lot of better options out there,,,! No experience sure, but the tv cred will play big with kids these days and if you bring D Mason in they should recruit well… We can get Eddie wheeled in for practices and pointers to make up for lack of experience, and really all doug does is sit around analyzing basketball which most would agree he does well… Now does that transfer to good coaching,,IDK, but if there ever was a time to find out,,,it’s now!!! Could be a cinderella story in the making!!!

    • Holder emailed me back at 5:15 this morning. I think he is working on it.

    • Beth Robinson

      This would be a bad time to make a crazy decision…no coaching experience is a HUGE issue!

  • Saucy Takes

    What about Bryant reeves

  • Patrick, Orlando

    I’m all in on Doug, just like I was last year. He hasn’t coached before, but ran the point (which is the coach on the floor), loves OSU, and for those saying he has no experience…he played under his dad and Eddie, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

    • Beth Robinson

      Playing and analyzing are quite different from coaching. If Doug wants to coach, he needs to start at a low or mid major and prove himself. OSU does not need to take this risk right now.

  • Braxton Hall

    Hiring doug would be a colossal mistake

    • Shanewill3

      There is absolutely nothing more to this than personal opinion. I think it would be a success. I’m right more often than not, so theres that. See how that works?

    • Beth Robinson

      While I love Doug as an analyst and loved him as a player, it would be a HUGE risk to hire someone with no coaching experience! Coaching is much different than playing or analyzing. This is a key time for hiring and if Doug wants to coach, he needs to get experience at a lower level and prove himself.

  • Braxton Hall

    Hire Chris mack

  • matt

    No on Buzz Williams and NO on Tim Jankovich, he got fired at Tulsa. Other than that some interesting names. I’d love to get Doug but we will see what happens.

    • Vintage97poke

      He never coached at Tulsa??

  • Alum in AZ

    If not Bill, then Doug. That’s it.

  • GoPokes

    What they should do, as a big ol’ FU to Underwood, is pay the new coach what Brad was asking for to stay.

  • Big D

    Gottlieb or the SMU guy. We need somebody who’ll be invested in the program personally.

  • Matt Cox

    Who on this list plays Iba style ball?

  • Darrel Johnson

    Kermit Davis – hot coaching prospect at Middle Tennessee. Would likely bring his top assistant, Win Case, who played at OSU and has strong ties to the state. Only problem may be he is on the short list at LSU.

  • Saucy Takes

    Scott drew!

  • Carl

    I hope my alarm goes off soon.

  • Carl

    OSU will always and forever be a stage for up-and-coming coaches to engage in a year long job interview.
    It’s a stepping stone, nothing more. Mike & John being the exceptions.
    As much as I like Doug, i dont think he’s ready. Or maybe he is and just needs a chance. Either way, thanks a bunch Underwood.

    • T-Bone

      Doug may be the type we need to avoid the stepping stone.

  • LK

    I like how none of you Doug supporters have said anything about how he would actually make the basketball team better. “People like him” is not a reason to pay a guy a million bucks. Hire a real coach.

    • T-Bone

      Doug wants the job so badly. Pay him $400,000 and use the money saved to recruit. Then we can see if he is any good.

  • CarpeCerevisi

    Andy Enfield, love Gottlieb, but Enfield is a great coach, and his wife is from Mustang, and is a huge OSU fan…