BOISE, Idaho -- College basketball coaches sometimes could use a Dr. Phil as much as a Dr. J.
When Chris Holtmann was first offered the Ohio State job last year, he turned to trusted counselors for advice on whether he should join the Buckeyes or remain at Butler.
Among others, Holtmann checked with Mark Few from Gonzaga, Shaka Smart from Texas and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who left Butler after the 2013 season.
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“They (Few and Smart) had both turned down jobs, and in Shaka’s case he had also taken it,” Holtmann said Friday, referring to Smart’s decision to leave VCU for Texas. “I wanted dissenting opinions and thought I would get that with Shaka and Mark.”
Holtmann took away from those conversations that athletic department and program stability are key to the decision of whether to stay or go.
“How committed are they to men’s basketball? Do they have a history of being a stable situation? Who you’re going to work for came up a lot,” Holtmann said. “I had opportunities that I turned down because I wasn’t sure who I’d be working for.”
Other considerations include the amount of turnover within an athletic department, does the administration know how hard it is to win and “do they have a quick trigger with guys?” he said.
Conversations involving job openings are only one part of a larger and more personal therapy session among coaches.
Few explained that during these trying times for college basketball, when coaches, players and programs are under FBI investigation, it is important to connect with friends in the profession.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a bunch of really good friends in this business … and the one thing is it’s a fellow head coach – you can really share some experiences and some feelings,” Few said. “I do think there’s a collegiality that happens. I don’t want to say like a care group or anything, but we have a tendency to call each other and have these little bitch and moan complain sessions. Like, ‘Wow, we’re going through the same thing.’ It’s like, ‘You’ll be fine,’ and go from there.
“There’s some really, really, really great people in this profession. It’s great to see the profession being passed on to guys like (Holtmann), because it’s going to be in great hands with guys like him.”