What if the OSU basketball coaching search was a bracket?

What if the OSU basketball coaching search was a bracket?

This 64-coach bracket — think of it as the Chad Weiberg Invitational — features Paul Mills, Danny Sprinkle, Doug Gottlieb and Darian DeVries as the top seeds.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Mar 19, 2024, 6:00am CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Mar 19, 2024, 6:00am CDT

(Want Berry Tramel’s stories in your inbox? Subscribe here)

OSU needs a basketball coach, and longtime readers know what that means. 

Yep, another coaching bracket.

When Indiana hired away Kelvin Sampson from OU 18 years ago, my Daily Oklahoman sports editor, Mike Sherman, suggested we do a 64-coach bracket and pick a winner to coach the Sooners.

And so we did. Then did it again in 2008, when OSU fired Sean Sutton. And in 2011, when OU fired Jeff Capel. And in 2016, when OSU fired Travis Ford. And in 2017, when Brad Underwood left OSU for Illinois. And in 2021, when Lon Kruger retired.

Now Sherman and I are reunited at Sellout Crowd, and OSU has fired Mike Boynton. So here we go again.

I don’t know why I do this to myself.

I’ve picked the eventual coach only once — Underwood, who was a clear and easy choice for then-OSU athletic director Mike Holder. 

I’ve managed to leave the eventual winner off my bracket entirely twice: Capel in 2006, figuring he was too young at age 31 to even consider, and Boynton in 2016, in part because I had no idea who he was and in part because I already had two Underwood assistants on the bracket.

So this bracket is intended not for preciseness, but for perspective. Who are the candidates on Cowboy AD Chad Weiberg’s long list? Who could Weiberg even be thinking about? So enjoy the perspective. But also have fun.

We all love brackets, especially this time of year. College basketball is a bracket game. Fans come alive in March because of the NCAA Tournament, and if your team’s not in, maybe you can find some juice with this kind of bracket.

For your tormenting pleasure, here are my picks from the previous brackets.

OU 2006: I didn’t put Capel, then the Virginia Commonwealth coach, on the bracket. I picked then-Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, as a No. 2 seed.

OSU 2008: I made Massachusetts’ Ford a 7-seed; he lost in the second round to Notre Dame’s Mike Brey. I had Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon winning, as a No. 3 seed. Seems quaint now to think that the Cowboys could hire away the Pitt or Notre Dame coach.

OU 2011: I made Nevada-Las Vegas’ Kruger a No. 2 seed but had him losing to Oregon’s Dana Altman in the Sweet 16. My choice to win was Marquette’s Buzz Williams.

OSU 2016: I had Underwood all the way, baby, as a No. 1 seed.

OSU 2017: I didn’t have Boynton on the bracket. I had Southern Cal’s Andy Enfield winning as a No. 1 seed.

2021: I made Moser a No. 2 seed but had him as a first-round upset loser to Syracuse assistant Gerry McNamara, with good reason. It seemed likely at the time that Moser was headed for Indiana. I made North Texas’ Grant McCasland a No. 1 seed and picked him as the winner. It was a good pick. McCasland is doing a bang-up job at Texas Tech.

So we’ll tackle it again.

Here’s the bracket, with my first- and second-round results, and we’ll get to the rest of the tournament on Wednesday.

 

Dec 30, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Wichita State Shockers head coach Paul Mills reacts during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Would Wichita State’s Paul Mills consider OSU after just one season with the Shockers? (Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Sports)

BYRON HOUSTON REGIONAL

First Round

No. 1. Paul Mills, Wichita State vs.  No. 16 Tom Crean, ESPN

Winner — Mills: Crean’s a perennial candidate but was 47-75 at Georgia, 2018-22.

No. 8 Steve Alford, Nevada vs. No. 9 Dustin Kerns, Appalachian State

Winner — Alford: Kerns is a promising coach but with virtually no Big 12 ties.

—–

No. 4 Billy Gillespie, Tarleton State vs No. 13 Josh Schertz, Indiana State

Winner — Gillespie: Schertz is too far down the road with other options. 

No. 5 Casey Alexander, Belmont vs. No. 12 Mike Rohn, Colorado assistant

Winner — Rohl: Alexander is too much of a Nashville guy. 

—–

No. 3 Richard Pitino, New Mexico vs. No. 14 John Lucas III, Phoenix Suns assistant

Winner — Pitino: Lucas an all-time OSU hero but has no college coaching experience.

No. 6 Keiton Page, OSU assistant coach vs. No. 11 Takayo Siddle, UNC-Wilmington

Winner — Page:  Siddle is promising but with too much mid-Atlantic background.

——

No. 7 Preston Spradlin, Morehead State vs. No. 10 Chris Beard, Ole Miss

Winner — Spradlin: Could OSU pry Beard loose from the SEC and would it even want to, considering his baggage?

No. 2 Kellen Sampson, Houston assistant vs. No. 15 Kyle Keller, Stephen F. Austin

Winner — Sampson: Keller was a longtime Sutton (Eddie and Sean) assistant, but OSU probably can’t dip into the SFA well again, since that’s from where came Brad Underwood/Boynton. 

Second Round

No. 1 Paul Mills, Wichita State vs. No. 8 Steve Alford, Nevada

Winner — Mills: Alford has made money; he wants to win, and Nevada has a better chance of that these days.

No. 4 Billy Gillespie, Tarleton State vs. No. 12 Mike Rohn, Colorado assistant

Winner — Gillespie: Rohn is a career assistant; Cowboys need a proven winner.

—-

No. 3 Richard Pitino, New Mexico vs. No. 6 Keiton Page, OSU assistant coach

Winner — Pitino: Page is too inexperienced for an opportunity like this.

——

No. 7 Preston Spradlin, Morehead State vs. No. 2 Kellen Sampson, Houston assistant

Winner — Sampson: Spradlin is a promising coach, but he’s a Commonwealth lifer.

 

Jan 30, 2024; Logan, Utah, USA; Utah State Aggies head coach Danny Sprinkle looks on during the first half against the San Jose State Spartans at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle has emerged as a leading candidate at OSU. (Rob Gray/USA Today Sports)

BIG COUNTRY REGIONAL

First Round

1. Danny Sprinkle, Utah State vs. No. 16 Royal Ivey, Houston Rockets assistant

Winner — Sprinkle: Ivey, a former Longhorn player with longtime NBA ties, isn’t a good fit.

No. 8 Bucky McMillan, Samford vs. No. 9 Mike Morrell, North Carolina-Asheville

Winner — Morrell: McMillan didn’t coach at Texas; Morrell did.

——

No. 4 Kyle Smith, Washington State vs. No. 13 Jeremy Case, Kansas assistant coach

Winner — Smith: Case is from McAlester and his dad, Win, played at OSU, but that’s not enough. 

No. 5 John Jakus, Baylor assistant coach vs. No. 12 Steve Lutz, Western Kentucky

Winner —  Jakus: Lutz is an intriguing candidate, with lots of Texas ties. But so is Jakus.

——

No. 3 Joe Golding, Texas-El Paso vs. No. 14  Terrence Rencher, OSU assistant

Winner — Golding: Rencher’s only OSU ties are through Boynton.

No. 6 Erik Pastrana, Georgia assistant coach vs. No. 11 Corey Williams, Auburn assistant

Winner — Williams: Pastrana worked on Boynton’s staff, but Williams is a Sutton Cowboy.

——

No. 7 Mike Jones, UNC-Greensboro vs. No. 10 Mark Byington, James Madison

Winner — Bynington: Jones is 58, Byington 47.  

No. 2 Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon vs. 15. Alan Huss, High Point

Winner — Drew: Huss has Creighton ties, but that’s not enough.

Second Round

No. 1 Danny Sprinkle, Utah State vs. No. 9 Mike Morrell, North Carolina-Asheville

Winner — Sprinkle: Sprinkle seems to be the hottest ticket for OSU.

No. 4 Kyle Smith, Washington State vs. No. 5  John Jakus, Baylor assistant coach

Winner — Smith: Smith is the man without a country; his school has lost its power-conference status, and he could be looking.

——

No. 3 Joe Golding, UTEP vs. No. 11 Corey Williams, Auburn assistant

Winner — Golding: Williams is a popular Cowboy, but he was 58-133 in six years as head coach at Stetson.

No. 10 Mark Byington, James Madison vs. No. 2 Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon

Winner — Drew: Byington is 83 games above .500 in 12 mid-major seasons, but Drew’s name has drawing power.

 

Feb 8, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Doug Gottlieb on the Fox Sports set on radio row at the Super Bowl 58 media center at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Gottlieb long has thought about going from broadcasting to coaching the Cowboys. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

DESMOND MASON REGIONAL 

First Round

No. 1 Doug Gottlieb, Fox Sports vs. No. 16 Alvin Brooks III, Baylor assistant

Winner — Gottlieb: Brooks’ dad is head coach at Lamar and a Houston U. icon, but that’s no reason to hire the son. 

No. 8 Chris Mack, former Louisville vs. No. 9 Barry Hinson, OSU administrator

Winner — Hinson: Too much baggage at Louisville for Mack 

——

No 4. Ben McCollum, Northwest Missouri State vs. No. 13 Bruce Weber, retired

Winner — Weber: McCollum seems headed to Missouri State.

No. 5 Ulric Maligi, Kansas State assistant vs. No. 12 Dan Monson, Long Beach State

Winner — Maligi: the 62-year-old Monson was just fired from Long Beach State, then made the NCAA Tournament.

——

No. 3 Pat Kelsey, College of Charleston vs. No. 14 Gerry McNamara, Syracuse assistant

Winner — Kelsey: McNamara, a Syracuse hero, will get his chance one day soon. 

No. 6 K.T. Turner, Texas-Arlington vs. No. 11  Mitch Henderson, Princeton

Winner — Turner: Ivy League to Stillwater probably not a good idea.

——

No. 7 Ryan Odom, Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 10 Leon Rice, Boise State

Winner — Rice: VCU is a better job than is OSU.

No. 2 Anthony Grant, Dayton vs. No. 15 Will Wade, McNeese State

Winner — Grant: If OSU ever hires the scandal-ridden Wade, you’ll know the school has lost its soul. 

Second Round

No. 1 Doug Gottlieb, Fox Sports vs. No. 9 Barry Hinson, OSU administrator

Winner — Gottlieb: Hinson is the ultimate people person and would rally the fans, but he’s 62.

No. 13 Bruce Weber, retired vs. No. 5 Ulric Maligi, Kansas State assistant

Winner — Maligi: Former K-State coach Weber won a bunch in Manhattan but would be considered a retread.

——

No. 3 Pat Kelsey, College of Charleston vs. No. 6 K.T. Turner, Texas-Arlington

Winner — Turner: Not enough Big 12/Oklahoma ties for Kelsey.

No. 10 Leon Rice, Boise State vs. No. 2 Anthony Grant, Dayton

Winner — Rice: Grant has a better job.

 

Mar 10, 2024; St. Louis, MO, USA; Drake Bulldogs head coach Darian DeVries reacts to a call as his team plays the Indiana State Sycamores during the second half of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship game at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Drake coach Darian DeVries has the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

BOB KURLAND REGIONAL

First Round

No. 1 Darian DeVries, Drake vs. No. 16 Stephen Graham, Denver Nuggets assistant coach

Winner — DeVries: Graham has carved out a nice NBA career after being Eddie Sutton’s seventh man, but this is different.  

No. 8 Scott Sutton, OSU assistant coach vs. No. 9 Andy Kennedy, UAB

Winner — Sutton: Kennedy is 56; OSU probably needs to go younger. 

——

No. 4 Jai Lucas, Duke assistant vs. No. 13 Brian Wardle, Bradley

Winner — Lucas: Wardle no match for John Lucas’ little brother.

No. 5 Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa vs. No. 12 Jerrod Calhoun, Youngstown State

Winner — Jacobson: Calhoun has few ties to this part of America. 

——

No. 3 Niko Medved, Colorado State vs. No. 14 Darrell Walker, Arkansas-Little Rock

Winner — Medved: Walker played for Eddie Sutton at Arkansas, but Walker is 63 and has a losing record in six years at Little Rock.

No. 6 Drew Valentine, Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 11 Jake Diebler, Ohio State interim

Winner — Diebler: Valentine an intriguing candidate, but he might be tough to pry loose.

——

No. 7 Bill Self, Kansas vs. No. 10 Brandon Chappell, Texas assistant

Winner — Chappell:  Now more than ever, Self’s not returning to his alma mater.

No. 2 Amir Abdur-Rahim, South Florida vs. No. 15 Kurtis Townsend, Kansas assistant

Winner — Abdur-Rahim: The 66-year-old Townsend is a 21-year Self assistant. Probably not a fit.

——

Second Round

No. 1 Darian DeVries, Drake vs. No. 8  Scott Sutton, OSU assistant coach

Winner — DeVries: Does Sutton even want the headaches of being the third Sutton to take the job? 

No. 4 Jai Lucas, Duke assistant vs. No. 5  Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

Winner — Lucas: Jacobson is an 18-year coach at UNI. If he really wanted a job like this, he could have had it.

——

No. 3 Niko Medved, Colorado State vs. No. 11 Jake Diebler, Ohio State interim

Winner — Medved: Diebler did a nice job as the Buckeye interim coach, but Medved is more proven.

No. 10 Brandon Chappell, Texas assistant vs. No. 2 Amir Abdur-Rahim, South Florida

Winner — Chappell: Can OSU entice Abdur-Rahim, who is on the fast track? Probably not.

 

Array, Array

Share with your crowd
Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

The latest from Berry Tramel

  • Thunder-Mavericks Game 3 exit survey: Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming

  • Is the Thunder-Mavs series headed down Minnesota-Denver Boulevard?

  • What’s the most exciting thing about the new-look Big 12 football?