Disclaimer: I am only posting this because his name has come up several times the past week on this forum, not necessarily because I think he is a candidate.
The Athletic has an item today about John Calipari and UCLA. Within it, Seth Davis wrote that UCLA had spoken to Thad Matta about its coaching position, but that Matta has since withdrawn his name from consideration.
Seriously? If Matta’s healthy, I’d love to have him here. Geez, 5 Big Ten regular season championships and 4 Big 10 tournament championships. Two final fours, 2 Elite Eights, and 2 sweet sixteens in 9 trips to the NCAA Tourney. He was amazing at Ohio St. until his back and foot got the best of him the last couple seasons there. He’s rested and hopefully rehabbed the last 2 years. If healthy, he’s probably the most proven name out there right now and he’s only 51 years old.
To me, it sad that Matta was atleast playing with the thought of coming back, and had been in contact with UCLA.
Now, did he withdraw because he doesn’t want to come back yet, or because he’s leaning toward somewhere else?
Not that it means anything, but there are a couple of other connections to the program. Dave Richardson, the Arkansas basketball strength coach, previously spent 12 seasons working for Matta, and UA chancellor Joe Steinmetz previously was in administration at Ohio State.
Yes, plus a pretty major foot problem. Don’t know if they were a related problem. Last year or 2 at Ohio State, he had to sit on a stool by the bench that required little back movement to stand. Had a noticeable limp.
They are definitely related. He had back surgery in about 2007 which caused nerve damage that created the foot problem, which is called foot drop. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. You and I can pick one leg up and wiggle the foot, pointing the toes down and then pulling them back toward our heads. Matta can’t, at least on one side. The toes go down by gravity and he can’t pull them back up. He has to have a brace to walk or stand, which will definitely give him the limp. In many cases, though, the damaged nerves that cause the weakness also are very painful, and that appears to be what forced him out at tOSU. He just had too much pain to run practice or go recruit or walk the sideline at games.
When I worked in spine surgery (where my handle SF came from) a big part of my job was getting people ready for surgery. I’d have them sign a surgical consent, which included a list of things that can go wrong. Foot drop was one of the things that can go wrong. It doesn’t happen often; I can’t remember one of my surgeons causing one. But it does happen.