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Matta a good choice for Buckeyes

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger took his time choosing a replacement for Jim O'Brien, but in the end, patience paid off. Geiger's decision to hire Thad Matta as the Buckeyes' new head coach is a good one. Matta has been a rising star in the coaching profession and should bring enthusiasm to the Columbus campus.

Thad Matta
Hiring Thad Matta as coach was the right decision for Ohio State.
Think about all that Matta, who comes to Ohio State from Xavier, has accomplished in a short time. He only got into college coaching in 1990, when he was hired at Indiana State as a graduate assistant. He worked as an assistant under a number of quality coaches, including Herb Sendek, Charlie Coles and Barry Collier.

He then made the move to Butler, where he led the Bulldogs to a 24-8 record and an NCAA Tournament first-round win.

Then it was off to Xavier, where he made noise in the Atlantic 10. The Musketeers made a great run in the NCAA Tournament last season, beating Louisville, Mississippi State and Texas before falling in a Maalox Masher to Duke in the regional final.

Overall, Matta led Xavier to three NCAA Tournaments and two Atlantic 10 regular-season championships. He was the A-10 coach of the year for the 2001-02 season.

Matta takes over a Buckeye program that has some lingering questions. Will Ohio State be placed on probation because of the past recruiting issues that led to O'Brien's dismissal? Has the program fallen behind in recruiting now due to the late hire of Matta?

The bottom line is that the newest Buckeye coach has a great track record, and in time he will build another successful program.

Matta has energy and a passion on the sidelines that breeds winning. He is personable and well-respected, and he has great upside as his career moves forward. Anyone who knows him will tell you he's a player's coach in the best sense. He really impressed people in Buckeye land, and he manages the game well on the sidelines.

That's why Geiger has to be happy with his decision.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979 (he has been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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