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Holtmann bolts for Buckeyes

Chris Holtmann celebrates Butler's win against Villanova this January. He'll now be celebrating someplace else. (Photo Credit: IconSMI)


There appear to be two constants with Butler basketball.

Winning is certainly one of them. Change seems to be the other.

Chris Holtmann's days as the head coach of the Butler Bulldogs are over. He'll be announced later today as the next head coach at Ohio State, replacing another former Butler man in Thad Matta.

According to various reports, Holtmann will ink an eight-year deal, worth an estimated $3.1 million per season. That is somewhere between two to three times what he made as the head coach at Butler.

Holtmann's rise through the coaching ranks is rather remarkable. He left the head coaching positition at Gardner-Webb in the Big South Conference to come be an assistant coach for Brandon Miller at Butler. Within 15 months, Holtmann was named as the interim coach when Miller left the program for personal resasons never to return. 

By the middle of his first year in charge of the program, he was named the permanent head coach. That permanency would last for all of 2.5 years.

There had been other suitors over the last couple of years. This deal was apparently too good to pass up.

The money is obvious, but you can also look at the overlap in recruting area as to another reason why this could be a very smooth transition for Holtmann and any potential members of his staff that are willing to make the move three hours to the east. 

Kyle Young is Butler's top recruit in this class. He's considered a top-100 player in the nation, top 25 at his small forward position. He hails from Massilon, Ohio. 

Now look at the connections going the other direction. Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Walter Offutt, DeShaun Thomas, and Trevor Thompson have all made the quick trip from the Hoosier state to be Buckeyes. Butler and Ohio State both certainly have national level recruiting profiles, but the same area in which Holtmann recruited from while at Butler is easlly transferrable to Columbus, Ohio.

The timing isn't great, but that's something Butler has dealt with before. Brad Stevens left for the Boston Celtics on the weekend of July 4th. Brandon Miller exited stage right during the fall of 2014. 

So who's next? It wasn't like Brad Stevens was an obvious choice when he replaced Todd Lickliter in 2007...but I'm not sure there's an obvious choice amongst this group of assistant coaches. Of the three full-fledged assistants, only Terry Johnson has been around for longer than two years. There are several other candidates with Butler ties that could be interested, amongst them Micah Shrewsberry on the staff of Stevens in Boston, and LaVall Jordan, who just took the Milwaukee job a year ago after many years as an assistant to John Beilein at Michigan. Michael Lewis could get a look as well, having just left an assistant's spot at Butler for a similar position flush with more cash at Nebraska.

It's certainly possible that for the first time since Barry Collier was hired as Butler's head coach in 1989 that the Bulldogs will not select their next head coach from someone that was on the previous staff, although when you're making a new coaching hire in the middle of June, that would be preferred.

Again, it's hard to fault Holtmann for turning down an opportunity at a program like Ohio State. The money is tremendous, and there's been recent success that seemingly was only derailed by a debilitating back issue for Thad Matta. 

While Butler has done a truly remarkable job in elevating the status of its basketball program to the Big East and a more prominent national program, there's always going to be a financial gap between the schools that can throw the most money at a coach. You get nearly 100k into Ohio Stadium 7-8 times a year for football, that means you can outspend a school that has to rely on selling out 9k seats for hoops 20 times a year.

The gap on the court is no longer that significant. But the amount of money left of the decimal point still is. 

And for that reason, Butler is searching for a new head basketball coach. Again.

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