OSU has candidates to replace Mike Boynton, but it needs this checklist.

OSU has candidates to replace Mike Boynton, but it needs this checklist.

Even though you can find lists of options for the Cowboys all over the place, what does the program really need in its next head coach to be successful?

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Mar 14, 2024, 2:44pm CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Mar 14, 2024, 2:44pm CDT

News that seemed increasingly inevitable over the past couple of weeks became reality Thursday morning: Mike Boynton is out at Oklahoma State. 

I thought OSU should keep Boynton and avoid paying his big buyout. Use the almost $7 million for NIL. Or facilities. Or anything other than paying a coach not to coach. Others looked at a near-empty Gallagher-Iba Arena and a woeful win-loss record and said it was past time to move on from Boynton.

Whatever you think about OSU’s decision to fire him, it doesn’t much matter now. It’s been done. Time to think about what’s next and who is next. Who should be the next men’s basketball coach at OSU? 

I’m guessing OSU Athletic Director Chad Weiburg already has a short list of candidates he’ll be targeting, and while we could guess at some names — Doug Gottlieb? Bryce Drew? Will Wade? Well, scratch that last one; he’s got more baggage than a Samsonite store — the reality is that history gives us a pretty good idea of what will work at OSU. 

The checklist is clear.

1. A love for OSU. Now, Mike Boynton had as much love for OSU as anyone on the planet. He was as good an ambassador of the orange and black as anyone over the past seven years. And just because he was fired, that doesn’t mean a passion for OSU shouldn’t be on Weiberg’s checklist. It’s important for drawing recruits from places like Dallas and Chicago to still water America. It’s important for rallying donors and boosters to get behind the program and donate to NIL efforts. Both of those things will be crucial in rebuilding the program.

2. The ability to sell the program. Selling it to donors and boosters and fans, yes, although winning will sell them better than anything. But selling the program to recruits and transfers is where the true magic lies. Truth be told, OSU men’s basketball coaches have a good track record of getting top recruits to Stillwater. Boynton had Cade Cunningham, Travis Ford got Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash, Sean Sutton got James Anderson, Eddie Sutton got a laundry list of players over the years. The fact that OSU has been able to draw big-time players over the decades is good news for the next coach.

3. A track record of success. This might be the biggest determining factor for success at OSU. When OSU has hired a basketball coach who’s been a successful head coach elsewhere, the Cowboys have fared well. And I’m thinking of coaches in the past 30 or 40 years, Eddie Sutton, Travis Ford, Brad Underwood. Sean Sutton and Mike Boynton had no head coaching experience before taking over at OSU, and both were let go.

Now, Leonard Hamilton hadn’t been a head coach before taking over the Cowboys, and he was a success at OSU. On the flip side, Paul Hanson and Jim Killingsworth had been head coaches at lower levels before moving to OSU, and they weren’t great in Stillwater. So a coach who’s been successful as a head coach elsewhere isn’t an automatic to success. But it sure seems to portend better results at OSU. 

Does that mean Doug Gottlieb should be out of the running? I’m on record as saying OSU needs to take a serious look at the former Cowboy point guard when it next found itself in need of a head coach. And that time is now. Weiberg and company should absolutely consider Gottlieb. His love of OSU and his ability to sell the program would be off the charts. He blows every other candidate out of the water on those two checklist items.

But having a track record of success, that’s where the likes of Bryce Drew and Richard Pitino, Dusty May and Darian DeVries, Steve Forbes and Nico Medved start to look intriguing. I’ll let you look up those credentials of those potential candidates, but all have been successful as head coaches. 

Listen, I don’t know who Chad Weiberg is looking at to be OSU’s next men’s basketball coach, but I know what the OSU athletic director should be looking for.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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