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Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Is Thad Matta really interested in Georgia job or is this for show?


Georgia is at least giving the appearance that it’s aiming high in its search for a college basketball coach. Thad Matta and Tom Crean, two long-time proven coaches currently out of work, both have been named as candidates and Matta was scheduled to interview Monday, according to Seth Emerson and Chip Towers of Dawgnation.com.

Just one question: Are we certain Matta is interested in the Georgia job?

Hang with me here. The former Ohio State and Xavier coach was let go by the Buckeyes last June amid health issues (mostly stemming from a bad back) and following a 17-15 season. He recently interviewed for the Ole Miss job but soon after it was reported that he no longer was a candidate. He’s also a possible candidate at Pittsburgh.

But consider Matta’s buyout at Ohio State. It was worth was just over $9 million ($9,001,096.86, to be exact, according to the Columbus Dispatch). That was broken down as a $4.3 million payment in December, followed by $100,000 monthly payments through June of 2020 (plus medical benefits).

So Matta obviously doesn’t have to take a job. Here’s where it gets interesting.

According section 5.2a of Matta's contract, via the Dispatch, "Coach is required to mitigate Ohio State's obligations by making reasonable and diligent efforts to obtain a comparable employment position as soon as practicable."

Let me translate: Matta is contractually obligated to pursue other jobs, whether in coaching or broadcasting, to keep the buyout active. If Matta takes another job, Ohio State would be off the hook for future monthly payments, medical benefits and would be able to recoup some other money already paid.

So can we certain Matta is really interested in the Georgia job until, and if, he is hired? At the very least, he can submit a list of high-demands -- his own salary, staff compensation, support staff, other resources -- that the Georgia basketball job has never commanded before, knowing it may be rejected.

Examples of “comparable employment” would be an assistant or head coaching job in the NBA or a program major basketball conference.

Matta would be an impressive hire for Georgia. The question is whether Matta really wants the job. We’ll know soon enough.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.