NCAAM Teams
Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer 108d

Figuring out what's next for Matta, Crean, JT3 and more

Men's College Basketball, Ohio State Buckeyes

College basketball is a beautiful business for winners.

The hefty contracts packed with guaranteed cash -- Hello, Indiana's Archie Miller -- the status and the exposure all create a vibrant life and favorable lifestyle for those offered opportunities to coach at major programs.

But once-laudable coaches get dumped every spring.

Then, those former coaches wait for an opportunity to get back into the game.

What's next for the coaches who were all fired this year? Will someone hire them in the near future?

Let's take a look:

Former Ohio State Buckeyes coach Thad Matta

Pros of hiring Matta
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith's abrupt dismissal of Matta in early June shocked the college basketball world because of its timing. Smith said he had given Matta a chance to boost the school's incoming class. When Matta could not do that in the spring, he lost his job. Matta is the hottest coach without a job right now. He reached two Final Fours and won five Big Ten titles in 13 seasons with the Buckeyes. He recruited former collegiate standouts and future pros like Greg Oden, Michael Conley Jr., Evan Turner and D'Angelo Russell. That's a résumé most of the coaches who had teams in the final top 25 poll can't match.

Cons
In his final years in Columbus, Matta couldn't generate the same talent he'd enjoyed for the bulk of his tenure, but that's not the issue impacting his return to coaching. The only issue challenging Matta right now is his health. That clearly affected him at Ohio State. At the news conference announcing his removal, Matta said he thought he would still have his job at Ohio State if not for ongoing health issues related to lingering foot and back problems. If and when Matta decides to return to coaching, he'll have to answer questions about his energy level and ability to commit to the demands of the job.

Will a reputable high-major program hire him?
Definitely. Matta is one of the best coaches in college basketball. An elite program will call him next summer. Matta holds the cards here. If he wants to come back and he's healthy, he'll field a multitude of offers.

Former Indiana Hoosiers coach Tom Crean
Pros
When Crean left Marquette to join an Indiana program reeling from the aftermath of Kelvin Sampson's NCAA violations, he accepted a massive rebuilding job. The program had lost scholarships and prestige in the wake of the investigation that ultimately cost Sampson his job. Crean won only a handful of games in the early years. By his fourth season in Bloomington, however, he'd led Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and the Hoosiers to the first of three Sweet 16 runs. He also won a pair of Big Ten championships.

Cons
You can't debate Crean's ability to reboot a program. Marquette had won three NCAA tournament games in 20 years before he led the squad to the Final Four in 2003. Then, he helped the Hoosiers. At Indiana, however, Crean never matched the hype or potential of a program that sent seven players to the NBA draft in his past four seasons. He couldn't overcome the inconsistency. That's the question for any new program he inherits. Can Crean get the most from the talent on his roster?

Will a reputable high-major program hire him?
Yes. Crean is still an elite coach who can help a top-30 program. He'll find another Power 5 gig as early as next summer if he's interested.

Former Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar
Pros
Under Romar, 12 former Washington players turned pro. The Huskies have produced six first-rounders since 2012, including this summer's No. 1 draft pick, Markelle Fultz. Romar also coached Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas, an all-NBA second-teamer last season. Romar, who won a pair of Pac-12 championships, turned the Huskies into a recruiting gem on the West Coast, accruing the talent that could compete with the top players signed by their Pac-12 rivals. Before Washington fired him earlier this year, he'd also signed Michael Porter Jr., the top recruit in the 2017 class, per ESPN.com. Every program hopes to build a continuous talent pipeline in the one-and-done era. Romar achieved that.

Cons
Romar failed to win 20 games and reach the NCAA tournament for five consecutive seasons before he was fired. You can't ignore the discrepancy between the NBA-level talent he had on his roster and the missed expectations.

Will a reputable high-major program hire him?
Depends on your definition of "reputable." Before Romar arrived, Washington rarely recruited high-level talent. For more than a decade, Romar attracted some of the best players in the country. A multitude of programs would appreciate his pull in the preps market. The contenders won't pursue him. The rest? With a successful stint as Arizona's new associate head coach, Romar could bounce back and find a solid Division I job in the coming years after last season's 9-22 finish with Fultz guiding the program, especially if the Wildcats compete for a national title. But it will take some time to make folks forget about that finish, and a stellar pro debut by Fultz won't help.

Former New Mexico Lobos coach Craig Neal
Pros
Craig Neal's career is tied to UCLA head coach Steve Alford. He worked as Alford's associate head coach at Iowa and New Mexico. When Alford left for UCLA in 2013, Neal moved into his old office. His first season exceeded expectations. The Lobos won 27 games in 2013-14 and reached the NCAA tournament.

Cons
Neal's first season was the only highlight of his tenure. He never returned to the NCAA tournament. Multiple players transferred toward the end of his term at New Mexico. He did little to prove he's capable of running a promising program in the future.

Will a reputable high-major program hire him?
Not a high-major program. His future in coaching probably involves a position as an assistant or a low-major opportunity if he can rebuild his rep. The landscape is unkind to coaches who've fizzled in their first and only Division I opportunities.

Former NC State Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried
Pros
In his first four seasons, Gottfried tussled with and toppled the best teams in the ACC. From 2011 to 2015, NC State won 22 or more games, broke a six-year postseason drought with four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and reached the Sweet 16 twice. The Wolfpack battled the best of Tobacco Road, a difficult task for any team in the region. Gottfried's squads never finished outside the top 50 in KenPom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency ratings.

Cons
When he was drafted last month by the Dallas Mavericks, former NC State star Dennis Smith Jr. said he was "looking forward to learning how to play defense." Gottfried's squads always suffered on that end of the floor. His team finished last in the ACC in adjusted defensive efficiency in conference play last season, the main reason the team finished 15-16 overall and only won five ACC games with Smith on the roster. Sure, Gottfried can recruit great athletes, but he fell short of expectations in his final seasons at NC State and missed the second weekend of the NCAA tournament in four of six years.

Will a reputable high-major program hire him?
Maybe. Gottfried had reportedly talked to Cal about its opening before the school hired Wyking Jones earlier this year. He's only 53. He has led three programs -- Murray State, Alabama and NC State -- to the NCAA tournament. Gottfried will get another solid job. It's easy for him and whoever hires him to sell his challenges at NC State as just the inherent dilemma that comes with coaching against North Carolina and Duke in the brutal ACC. He won't find a better gig than the one he had at NC State.

Former Georgetown Hoyas coach John Thompson III
Pros
Thompson won three Ivy League titles at Princeton and three Big East titles at Georgetown, where his father led the squad to a national title in 1984. He led the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007, and he won 22 or more games seven times. Yes, his father's name and legacy helped him throughout his coaching career, but he led the program. Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, Greg Monroe and Otto Porter all blossomed under Thompson.

Cons
After that Final Four run, Thompson never advanced to the second weekend with the Hoyas. In 2013, a 2-seed Hoyas team led by Porter -- a team that shared the Big East regular season title that year -- lost to Florida Gulf Coast, a 15-seed, in the opening round. That defeat damaged Thompson's profile. He had a team with the pieces to make a run that year. In his final years at Georgetown, he had a multitude of good teams that often missed the mark.

Will a reputable high-major program hire him?
A reputable program should hire him after he takes a sabbatical from coaching. Thompson had an ugly finish at Georgetown, but he also has ties to the Washington, D.C., metro area, one of the richest recruiting pools in America, and a résumé full of highlights. He proved his worth in his best years at both Princeton and Georgetown. Plus, he's only 51. Thompson will get another shot somewhere.

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