What’s going on in the Big 12 and beyond? I expand and explain every Sunday in Postscripts at Heartland College Sports, your home for independent Big 12 coverage.
This week, Scott Drew is taking over the Big 12, the Red Raiders have their new coach, which Pac-12 president his heading overseas and I need a little more Texas-OU softball hate than what I’m getting.
Baylor Taking Over the Big 12
What Scott Drew has done at Baylor the past 20 or so years is incredible. It’s one of the best rebuilding jobs in college basketball history. The Bears have won a national championship and have positioned themselves as a go-to program for five-star recruits and transfers alike. Professional speaking, it will be the greatest thing he’s ever done.
But what’s he’s doing to shape the Big 12 MIGHT be a close second.
On Friday, the expected became official — Texas Tech hired Grant McCasland to replace Mark Adams as men’s basketball coach.
It is the second time in as many hiring cycles that a Big 12 athletic director has turned to the Drew Coaching Tree for a replacement. Last year, Kansas State hired Jerome Tang, and you KNOW how that went.
It’s hard to recall a conference turning to one program’s coaching tree for hires in consecutive seasons. Now, McCasland was the head coach at North Texas for six years, leading the Mean Green to the postseason NIT title a couple of days ago. But, before that he worked for Drew.
In fact, at one time Drew’s staff included Tang, McCasland and Paul Mills, who left Baylor to take over at Oral Roberts, took ORU to a Sweet 16 a couple of years ago (with Tech’s Kevin Obanor in tow) and just took the job at Wichita State.
Plus, there’s Matthew Driscoll, who worked for Drew at both Valparaiso and Baylor and has led North Florida for more than a decade. He won more than 200 games and taken the Ospreys to an NCAA Tournament.
For athletic directors that might be reading this, Drew’s current staff includes associate head coach Alvin Brooks III, associate head coach John Jakus and assistant coach Jared Nuness.
You might want to file those names away. If McCasland walks into Lubbock and does what Tang did in Manhattan this season, well, Drew may not have staffers left when the next hiring cycle ends.
As for McCasland …
I remember a couple of weeks ago when I saw some people expressed disappointment with Tech “swinging and missing” on big names. First, the only “big name” I heard connected to the job was Rick Pitino and he was never coming to Lubbock. Second, I feel confident the Red Raiders swung for other big names and just get them.
You know what? There’s nothing wrong with Tech taking their swing at big names. That is a great job now. It wasn’t a decade ago. That job has a lot to offer. But it won’t be for everyone.
For McCasland, it’s the right fit. He knows the Big 12 as a player and as a coach. He worked at Tech at one time. He gets the culture. He should get the Red Raiders back in the right direction. And it may not take long, either.
This Week in “As The Pac-12 Turns”
Somewhere in Tucson, University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins is packing for a two-week trip to Kazakhstan. I have no idea if the trip is for business or pleasure or both, but he’ll there for the next two weeks.
He doesn’t expect the Pac-12 to burn while he’s gone.
Robbins’ on-the-record conversation earlier this week really served as the only Pac-12 update of the week. He talked with CBS Spors’ Dennis Dodd before he started packing and basically said, ‘No update.”
“I have heard nothing to suggest [a deal is] imminent,” Robbins said. “There’s all these things about, well, ‘We want to wait until [after] the Final Four.’ That has nothing to do with it. It has to do with assessing who is the right fit, who assesses us.
“I hope [commissioner George Kliavkoff] gets something done sooner rather than later so that the whole thing stops, so we don’t have focus on it. [But] I am perfectly willing to sit here and wait.”
I’ve wondered aloud at what point athletic directors start to get nervous about budgets — not 2023-24, which is set, but 2024-25 and beyond. I work in the academic space in my day job and I can tell you those folks budget years out. Robbins alluded to that in the Dodd piece, saying “We just plug in the numbers we have right now.”
The Pac-12 is 15 months away from the end of its current TV deal. Athletic departments of this size are largely autonomous, financially-speaking. There will come a point when the numbers they plug in have to match reality.
That may be when decisions finally get made.
Softball Hate — Kind Of?
Texas and Oklahoma played each other in softball this weekend. Anytime the two attempted destroyers of the Big 12 get together on the same field, it’s a good time. I’m kidding about the “attempted destroyers” part. Kind of.
So, going into it, Texas coach Mike White did some of the usual pre-game media that goes along with it. Sounds like he may not think too much about how Oklahoma has put this year’s team together.
“They find ways to keep reloading, and I’m not quite sure all of it is–you know, whatever, I won’t say any more,” White said while stopping himself in an interview, via KVUE’s Tyler Feldman.
Well that’s fun. To be clear, Oklahoma is the two-time defending national champions in the sport. Wherever White was going with that, I don’t think OU coach Patty Gasso needs to do anything more than say, “Hi I’m the head coach for Oklahoma softball” to get a recruit’s or transfer’s attention.
For Gasso’s part, she downplayed the rivalry during a press conference on Wednesday.
“So, there are a few teams we’ve had a little bit of chippiness with, but not to the point of all-out war. We don’t play our game that way.”
Geez is this Texas and Oklahoma or a southern cotillion? Get it together people. It’s Red River Rivalry. Let’s go. Get your hate on. Next year we have to watch this from afar and I don’t need the SEC turning the two of you into proper rivals.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard