A little bit of Ford, and a little bit of Jasper

There is not much in the way of news today -- yet.  Coach Gillispie is holding news conference this morning at 10:00, ostensibly to discuss the signing of Kevin Galloway to a National Letter of Intent yesterday.  But the elephant in the room is the Internet discussion being had about the status of Derrick Jasper at Kentucky.  There are all sorts of people assuring us that Jasper will be transferring, but absolutely none of them are authoritative.  You can be assured that the press will want to ask Gillispie about that this morning, and we may or may not get clarification.  Kentucky Sports Radio has more on this story this morning.  We will be watching with interest, and report news as it develops.

Everyone knows that Travis Ford has accepted the head coaching position at Oklahoma State.  I think that is an interesting hire for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the difference in stature between Bill Self, who OSU AD Mike Holder considered the only candidate at one time, and Ford.  Bill Self has taken 3 different teams to the NCAA Elite Eight a total of four times, plus one Sweet 16 and one national championship.  Travis Ford, on the other hand, has managed to make the NCAA tournament only one time in the eight years he has been a D-1 head coach and the NIT twice.  So it appears that OSU went from the filthy rich of national coaches all the way down to the lower middle class.

I think Travis Ford will do well at OSU.  He now has a much bigger stage in a much more respected conference to play on, and that is likely to benefit both him and Oklahoma State.  Ford will play an up-tempo, Pitinoesque style of basketball that the Cowboy fans will likely love, and the facilities and program of OSU will give him much more leverage with recruits than he had at UMass.  What will work against him with some recruits is the small-town nature of Stillwater, but Sutton was able to get good players to come to OSU, and I believe Ford will be able to do so, as well.  As Mike DeCourcy correctly points out, Ford is somewhat untested in pitched recruiting battles that are likely to be the norm in the Big 12, so we'll have to see how well he competes against the Selfs and the Barnes' of the conference.

The Oklahoman has this opinion piece praising the hire.  Money graf:

But here's why I like Oklahoma State's hiring of Ford to be sheriff of Gallagher-Iba Arena: He had a big name, entered the profession with silver sneakers on his feet, and still he worked his way up.

Campbellsville University, an NAIA school of little more than 2,000 students. Eastern Kentucky, which hadn't sniffed hardwood success since the 1970s. And finally Massachusetts, which was a force when John Calipari coached the Minutemen but at no other time.
That is true.  Ford has been a success everywhere he has gone, and everywhere he has gone was struggling before he came.  That situation does not exist in Stillwater, so we still have to see how he handles a roster that is not talent-challenged.  His former teammate John Pelphrey did OK at Arkansas this year, but with the talent he inherited, it could be said that he underachieved very slightly.  Will that be Ford's situation as well?

John Rohde, another writer for The Oklahoman, had this to say about the process:
By offering a monster contract, Holder single-handedly could have skewed the national pay scale of collegiate coaching.

He realized this, which made finding a genuine candidate even more difficult.

Ford could be a bust, or he could be a bargain.

Having a wait-and-see attitude never hurts, no matter how big your wallet.
I think that is a fair approach.  Ford is taking another step up, and every time he has done so he has been a success.  I like his chances at OSU.

Obviously, UMass is less than pleased about how this went down.  First, there is a bit of controversy over the fact that Holder apparently didn't contact the UMass AD for permission to talk to Ford.  The Massachusetts Republican has this editorial that accuses Ford of going back on his word.  That is what the college coaching carousel has become, though -- an exercise in carefully crafted denials followed by flip-flops and recriminations.


Update [2008-4-17 11:0:35 by Truzenzuzex]:  Presser is over. Jasper is homesick, but no decision has been made one way or the other.  The coaches are continuing to talk with him, much as they had to last year.  More to follow ...

More ... Gillispie confirmed rumors that Mike Williams is considering a transfer for playing time reasons.  There is still more, but none of it is earth-shaking I will wait for official information for the rest.  Matt and Brett Dawson have the story so far.

Update [2008-4-17 14:46:38 by Truzenzuzex]:  Matt Jones now has a more complete update on today's media availability by Coach Gillispie.

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