Published Tue, Mar 13, 2012 8:01 pm Dateline
John Groce's streak of mid-major success in Athens has helped put his name on the list of a major coaching vacancy.
According to Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln (NE) Journal Star, the fourth-year Bobcat head coach is on a short list of candidates to replace Doc Sadler, who was fired as the Huskers head coach shortly after NU's season ended.
Groce contends that, until Tuesday, he wasn't aware that his named had been linked to any open jobs.
"That happens when you have success," Groce said. "The same thing happened two years ago, but my focus right now is on our team and having them ready to play Michigan on Friday...[that's the] bottom line."
In his four years at Ohio, Groce is 83-55 and has now been to the NCAA Tournament twice in three seasons.
"I'm taking no calls from any institution," Groce added. "Like I said, my total focus is on getting our guys ready to play Friday night against Michigan."
Groce has ties to the Big Ten Conference, as he was an assistant coach at Ohio State under current Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta from 2004-2008.
Groce's name has also been tied to the vacant position at the University of Illinois, but early reports have current VCU head coach Shaka Smart as the frontrunner for the Fighting Illini job.
Read Rosenthal's full story below
By: Brian Rosenthal (Lincoln Journal Star)
Watching this week's NCAA Tournament while keeping a keen eye on Nebraska basketball coaching candidates?
Then Friday night's game in Nashville, Tenn., wouldn't be a bad place to start.
John Groce's 13th-seeded Ohio team faces No. 4 seed Michigan in the second round, with the winner to face Temple, California or South Florida in Sunday's third round.
Sources say Groce is among a group of candidates to replace Doc Sadler, who was fired Friday after six seasons.
Groce, in his fourth season at Ohio, has led the Bobcats to a school-record 27 victories. They earned an automatic NCAA berth by winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship.
Groce is 83-55 at Ohio, with three straight postseason appearances, including two NCAA Tournament trips. As the 13th seed in 2010, Ohio upset No. 4 Georgetown in the first round.
Why would Nebraska be interested in Groce?
For starters, he has Big Ten Conference ties. A Danville, Ind., native, Groce spent four seasons on Thad Matta's staff at Ohio State, including his final two as associate head coach. He was a part of two Big Ten championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2007.
Those who've followed him say Groce, 40, is a high-energy, detail-oriented and driven coach. He's also regarded as a strong recruiter. Groce played an integral role in landing future first-round NBA Draft picks Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook and Greg Oden at Ohio State, and was named Rivals.com's recruiter of the year in 2006.
Groce's aggressive style of play would also be attractive. Ohio this season led the MAC in turnover margin, steals, scoring margin and three-point defense, while ranking third in scoring defense (62.4) and fourth in scoring (70.7). Last year's Ohio team averaged 74.7 points to lead the league.
Why wouldn't Groce make sense?
His interest level might not be as high as you'd think, even though he'd receive a significant pay increase from his current base salary of $250,000.
Groce isn't commenting on job openings, but one source says Groce is very particular about his career path, and with his entire roster returning, feels he could increase his stock for job openings next season.
Also, aside from working on the same campus with football coach Frank Solich, he has no known ties to Nebraska.
Thursday's game between No. 12 seed VCU and No. 5 seed Wichita State will be an intriguing matchup of highly-sought-after coaches.
Both Shaka Smart and Gregg Marshall make Nebraska's list, but Smart is the No. 1 candidate at Illinois, and reportedly is leaning toward accepting an offer to replace Bruce Weber. Smart and Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas previously worked together at Akron.
Marshall, meanwhile, has been linked all season to South Carolina, even though there's no opening at the school. However, that could change, as media reports in South Carolina say the future of men's basketball coach Darrin Horn will be decided early this week.
If Horn is retained, Nebraska could be in the Marshall mix. However, Marshall last year turned down North Carolina State, and told the Wichita Eagle he prides himself on not jumping from job to job. He's had two head coaching jobs in 14 years.
Marshall, who makes $900,000, signed a seven-year contract extension after last season, with an automatic one-year rollover each season.