Three worst coaching hires in Ohio State basketball history

As the Ohio State basketball team is about to hire a new head coach for next season, we take a look at the three worst hires in Buckeye history.

Feb 1987, unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Gary Williams on the
Feb 1987, unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Gary Williams on the / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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The Ohio State basketball program isn't a blue-blood program. They don't have the same tradition that Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana, or UCLA have. That doesn't mean they are a bad program. In fact, I would argue they are probably in the second or third tier of basketball programs historically.

Ohio State got that way because they have made some good hires as head coach. Despite the fact that they only have one national championship as a program, they have plenty of Final Four appearances. That's because they've had mostly good head coaching.

However, every program makes some bad hires. Ohio State is no different. The Buckeyes have had some hires that ended up not working out in their history. There are three that stand out as being worse than the rest, although really two of them are significantly worse than the third.

I didn't include some of the very early coaches of the Ohio State basketball team because most of them had other coaching duties with other sports too. Some were also assistants on the football or baseball teams. It's not fair to them to put them on this list when they had to coach multiple sports.

Just like the football list, the basketball list starts with someone who wasn't terrible but never performed up to expectations.

3. Chris Holtmann

Let me start out by saying that this is a really unfair spot to put Holtmann. Holtmann was a good coach early in his Ohio State basketball career. He had the Buckeyes as a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2021. The 2020 team was playing as good as any team in the country.

Unfortunately, he failed to do something that the three coaches preceding him did and that's win a Big Ten championship. In seven-plus seasons leading the Buckeyes, he never won a regular season or postseason conference title. That's not something that's acceptable.

Holtmann was fired on Valentine's Day and the team has turned it around since then. Since Jake Diebler took over, the team is 4-1 and has an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament. That's pretty damming if your assistant coach can lead the team better than you can.

Holtmann finished his Ohio State coaching career with an overall record of 137-86 but just 67-65 in Big Ten play. He went 13+ months without winning a road game. While the recent slide overshadows the early successes, Holtmann also never made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

As I mentioned before, there were some very early coaches who weren't as bad as Holtmann, but they had multiple coaching duties. Holtmann only had the basketball team to worry about and the juice was sucked out of the program at the end of his tenure.

The next guy on this list, like Holtmann, had to follow an Ohio State basketball coaching legend.


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