Mike Schrage is no longer part of Chris Holtmann’s staff, but he sees Ohio State taking a major step in the near future.
In his introductory press conference as Elon’s new head coach after two years as an assistant coaching the Buckeyes, Schrage espoused confidence in the program to continue trending upward without him.
“It's April now. There's a big game tonight,” Schrage said Monday, referencing the national championship game. “I'm really confident Ohio State's going to have a chance to be in those moments really soon, and I'm excited to watch.”
Schrage became the first assistant to leave Holtmann’s staff in Columbus, opening a spot alongside Ryan Pedon and Terry Johnson.
Prior to his time at Ohio State, Schrage spent one year on Holtmann’s staff at Butler. Schrage and Holtmann did not know each other personally before then, but they had mutual friends. Holtmann hired him in 2016 after Johnny Dawkins was let go as Stanford’s head coach, which left Schrage in need of a job.
Schrage said he remembers telling his now-14-year-old son, Andrew, that he might remain at Butler long enough for him to finish high school. That, of course, changed quickly when Gene Smith offered Holtmann the job at Ohio State the following year.
“We go to the Sweet 16, we lost to North Carolina, the eventual national champions that year, and Ohio State came calling,” Schrage said. “We had to go.”
In his two-decades-long coaching career, Schrage has spent time around some of the top coaches in college basketball.
He opened his career as a student manager at Indiana while Bob Knight ran the program. Schrage also worked under Mike Krzyzewski as academic and recruiting coordinator (1999-2002) and director of basketball operations (2002-08).
He developed as a coach under them and used his three years at Butler and Ohio State to springboard into a head coaching job, citing Holtmann as a key factor.
“I'm a better coach and a better man so much because of him, and I will forever be thankful,” Schrage said. “There's no way I am here in front of you – no way – or I'd have a head coaching opportunity if he did not give me that opportunity. I'm going to miss the guys at Ohio State in a big way. Our players, our staff, we were so close.”
Schrage will no longer be in Columbus to maximize the talent he reeled in, but the Buckeyes will reap the rewards. He was the lead recruiter for DJ Carton and Luther Muhammad, among others.