Holy cow! I don’t think anyone, and I mean anyone saw this coming. I have no idea how Barry Collier pulled this one out, but wow, what a hire! Matta was an assistant at Butler for three years, from 1997-2000, and then coached the 00-01 season, with the Dawgs making the NCAA Tournament and winning a game against Wake Forest.
After coaching Butler, Matta left for the Xavier Musketeers, coaching there for three seasons, winning 26 games in all three seasons, making two Rounds of 32 appearances and an Elite Eight. Matta then moved on to Ohio State where he is most known for his work.
Matta is the winningest coach in Ohio State’s program history, having failed to win 20 games only once in 17 seasons, and that was in the 2016-17 season when he was suffering from some pretty serious health issues. Matta took the next few years off, before becoming an Associate AD for Indiana last season.
Butler has continued their trend of hiring coaches who were previously tied to the program and joining schools like Xavier who hired a successful former coach this offseason. I don’t think anyone saw Butler making this big of a splash, I mean I’m floored.
Matta is one of the best college coaches out there, having made two Final Fours, with one national championship appearance with Greg Oden. Matta missed the tournament four times in 13 years at Ohio State, with the team having a self-imposed postseason ban in his first year. Matta has made the tournament at all three of his stops from him, making the tournament in 13 of his 16 eligible seasons as a Head Coach.
The worries about hiring Matta are pretty simple, just the health issues. We all know he can coach, and if the health issues are not stopping him, not much can him. With multiple reports out there showing that Matta is in good health, we’re in very capable hands.
I’ve spoken to Thad Matta several times and he has told me he feels terrific health-wise.
The Butler job obviously fits him, but the key will be how hard he wants to get after it in the portal and on the recruiting front.
Staff will be extremely important for Matta nowadays.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 3, 2022
I have heard from close to the situation that Thad Matta’s health is good.
He’s coming to Butler to win games and for the long haul. I wouldn’t put much weight in the talk of coach-in-waiting or wanting to be AD one day. Butler hired his basketball coach today.
— Lukas Harkins (@hardwiredsports) April 3, 2022
The roster currently looks a little dry with Simas Lukosius deciding to enter the transfer portal soon after the firing of LaVall Jordan, there are a lot of openings. There are five open scholarships spots currently, and I would expect more to open up just based on the modern transfer landscape.
Matta will have to get to work to improve this roster and find a couple of assistant coaches who can recruit immediately. But, man this hire was significant. The Big East now has some of the absolute best coaches in the country with Jay Wright, newly minted Coach of the Year Ed Cooley, up-and-coming star Shaheen Holloway, Greg McDermott, Dan Hurley, Shaka Smart, Sean Miller, and now Thad Matta, amongst others.
Eight of the Big East’s 11 head coaches have now coached in the Sweet 16.
Five have coached in the Elite Eight. https://t.co/UBKYv3PxFN
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 3, 2022
We’ve got some big time names in the Big East. @stoolbenchmob
— Jake Marsh (@PMTsportsbiz) April 3, 2022
The program needed new, positive energy and this is exactly what they brought with Matta. You needed to make a splash as the school hasn’t made the tournament since 2018, and there’s no denying that they did. Absolute home run, I can’t wait to see what Matta can do next season. I’ve thrown any semblance of objectivity out the window, but I don’t care, I’m so excited. Welcome Back, Coach! Go Dawgs!
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism