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OSU Basketball: Before firing Travis Ford, you must have an answer to this question: Who else you got?

Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman
Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman
"You simply cannot fire (Travis) Ford without knowing that you've got someone waiting in the wings."   Tweet this

A group of Oklahoma State fans may want Travis Ford gone so badly that it's willing to shell out millions of its own dollars.

And it'd be paying him not to coach.

I don't understand that kind of thinking, and maybe that's because I don't have millions of dollars to throw around for any reason, much less to fund someone's perpetual vacation for the next few years.

Still, if any of those deep-pocketed Cowboy boosters walked up to me, my first question would be this.

Who else you got?

And the answer can't be "maybe this guy" or "perhaps that guy". You have to know who your next coach is before you fire Ford.

Yes, you have to do a search because that's the law, but it would need to be a formality. You have to have a handshake deal with someone to be your next coach. You have to have a contract in his hand and a pen ready to hit the dotted line as soon as you say the word.

You simply cannot fire Ford without knowing that you've got someone waiting in the wings.

And I assume OSU would prefer that someone be someone better.

So, who would that be?

The belief is that these OSU fans pushing for Ford's ouster are fed up with the lack of passion about Cowboy basketball. The fan base just doesn't seem to care anymore. Attendance at games isn't great, but more than that, the verve of yesteryear is gone.

The Cowboys lost in their NCAA Tournament opener, and the orange-clad faithful largely shrugged their shoulders.

So, presumably, the next coach would need to win and create excitement.

A big-name coach would, in theory, do both of those things, but OSU isn't going to be able to lure a titan. John Calipari isn't coming. Ditto for Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo and pretty much any coach at a top-25 program.

And if OSU went after someone like Gregg Marshall at Wichita State or Mark Gottfried at NC State, both coaches who took their teams to the Sweet 16, I'm not sure that would fire up the fans.

It'd be a bit like OU's hire of Lon Kruger. He has absolutely turned around the program, but he never sparked a great deal of sizzle.

Still doesn't.

So, if OSU is looking to create a buzz, it might be left with hiring from within the Cowboy family. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Bill Self isn't coming to Stillwater, so who else would get OSU types fired up?

Doug Gottlieb's name is floating around … again.

A couple years ago when Ford's future was in question, Gottlieb went on his radio show and openly campaigned for the job. He wanted to go back to his alma mater. He wanted to restore the Cowboy pride that he experienced as a point guard from 1998-2000.

Here's what we know about Gottlieb: he would fire up Cowboy fans.

Here's what we don't know: if he can coach.

 

 

I suspect Gottlieb has coached at some point during his life. He's got young kids, and he's surely been asked to coach their teams a time or two. But his resume is void of any real coaching experience. He's never recruited. He's never had to call a play to beat Kansas or Iowa State or Southeastern Oklahoma, for that matter.

Could Gottlieb do those things?

Sure.

But he could also be a flop.

Hiring coaches -- any coach -- always comes with risks. You can never be sure that they will connect with fans or lure recruits or endear boosters or keep their noses clean. You can never be sure that they will be successful.

But schools have to take calculated risks. You don't hire a coach with a criminal past or a laundry list of NCAA violations. You don't hire a coach who has flopped. You hire a coach who has a proven track record.

Gottlieb has no negatives as coach, but he also no positives because he has no track record at all.

If OSU picked him, he wouldn't be the first guy hired to coach basketball without any college coaching experience. Heck, he wouldn't be the first guy this week. St. John's has offered its vacant opening to Chris Mullin, and much like OSU, the school is looking for someone fresh to fire up the masses. And there's little doubt that Mullin will do that.

But what about winning both recruits and games?

Longtime New York-New Jersey scribe Steve Politi wrote a great piece about his skepticism that Mullin will able to do those things.

"I know this because, sadly, it's what's happening with Eddie Jordan at Rutgers," Politi wrote. "There isn't a soul with a Rutgers degree who didn't think Jordan was the perfect man to clean up the mess in Piscataway after the Mike Rice scandal.

"And he did clean up the mess. … But he also lost 15 straight games to end last season, a situation that feels hopeless barring a recruiting miracle in the coming months."

If OSU opts to go with Gottlieb, it would need to give him a short contract or a low salary or both. And no massive upgrades if he has one or two good seasons, though you would assume OSU learned its lesson about that.

Listen, I understand that Travis Ford has rubbed OSU fans wrong. Whether his decade-long contract or his in-game decisions or his early-round exits from the NCAA Tournament, there are plenty of reasons to show him the door.

Just make sure there's someone ready to walk in when he walks out.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125 or jcarlson@oklahoman.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.


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 Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman

Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-75d48c913932e6ccdd38ea68644a2eb9.jpg" alt="Photo - Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman " title=" Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman "><figcaption> Coach Travis Ford coaches the team during a Big 12 basketball game between Oklahoma State and Texas Christian University on Wednesday March 4th at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. JACKIE DOBSON/ for The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-cff7dab94760a7e29de6a78887e2e095.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford speaks during a news conference before a practice for an NCAA college basketball tournament second round game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Omaha, Neb. Oklahoma State plays Oregon on Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) " title=" Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford speaks during a news conference before a practice for an NCAA college basketball tournament second round game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Omaha, Neb. Oklahoma State plays Oregon on Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) "><figcaption> Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford speaks during a news conference before a practice for an NCAA college basketball tournament second round game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Omaha, Neb. Oklahoma State plays Oregon on Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) </figcaption></figure>
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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