At the end of Ohio State’s postseason run, Chris Holtmann will lose his longest-tenured assistant coach.
Five-year Ohio State assistant Ryan Pedon was hired as Illinois State’s new head coach on Friday, and although he’ll still be on the sideline for the Buckeyes’ most important games of the season, there will soon be a void on the scarlet and gray staff at the start of the offseason.
Holtmann said Monday on 97.1 The Fan that he won’t start formulating a concrete plan for Pedon’s replacement until the year is over, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already heard from a number of interested parties.
“That’s what I’m doing right now is I’m getting a ton of calls, there’s a ton of interest for Ryan’s position,” Holtmann said. “I’ve given it some thought, but it’ll be something that we’ll look at after the season.”
It’s not as if Pedon’s departure took Holtmann by surprise. In his postgame press conference after beating Illinois on the road on Feb. 24, Holtmann said Pedon had already turned down several “good” head coaching offers in recent years, and he knew the Ohio native was not likely to continue to do so for much longer.
Pedon has coached alongside Holtmann for a total of eight seasons, having worked with him at Butler from 2015-17 before following him to Ohio State thereafter. Given their history, Holtmann is nothing short of thrilled for his longtime assistant, and he believes several other members of his staff might not be too far off from similar opportunities.
“Any time your assistant gets a head coaching job, it’s something he’s dreamed about forever. I think if we’re successful, we’re gonna lose assistants. That’s the bottom line,” Holtmann said. “If we’re successful and you’re at Ohio State, you’re gonna lose assistant coaches. It’s what they dream of.”
Today is a great day to be a Redbird! pic.twitter.com/82BmJ5FnAw— Redbird Men's Basketball (@Redbird_MBB) March 7, 2022
But why Illinois State and not the previous offers for Pedon? Holtmann said the Redbird program has a reputation as one of the better jobs in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“He’s had opportunities, they really pursued him hard, but he really wanted this opportunity,” Holtmann said. “He really wanted this job because it’s considered one of the best jobs in a really good mid-major league. It pays well, it’s a tremendous area, it’s a good place to live, the staff will be taken care of. Most importantly, they pursued him. So it’s a great, great opportunity for him. This won’t be the last one we’ll lose as long as we’re successful. If a byproduct of it is that people are saying, ‘OK, I want to poach your staff to be a head coach,’ that’s great.”
With Pedon serving as the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator, the Ohio State offense has been rated top 15 in the country by KenPom in adjusted offensive efficiency in each of the past three seasons. In 2021-22, the Buckeyes rank No. 11 in that metric, while the Buckeyes defense is all the way down at No. 121.
Third-year assistant coach Jake Diebler took over the Ohio State defense this season following the departure of Terry Johnson from Holtmann’s staff last offseason, but Holtmann plans to have Diebler work with the Buckeye offense once the season is over.
“Jake will kind of move into that role and he’ll take a lot of Ryan’s offensive responsibilities, offensive game plan, he’ll take that over,” Holtmann said. “Tony (Skinn) will continue to be in his role of scouting, he scouts every team’s personnel. And then we’ll figure out what to do next with the other areas. But again, that’ll wait until after the season. I’m not in a hurry to make any of those decisions right now. We’re gonna obviously coach our team right now, Ryan’s staying through the end of the season and then we’ll figure it out from there.”
Holtmann believes Diebler, Skinn and special assistant to the head coach Mike Netti will all be future head coaches.
“Jake Diebler will be a head coach here before long. Tony Skinn, Mike Netti, those guys all,” Holtmann said. “I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with the position yet at this point. Jake will eventually assume Ryan’s responsibilities and then we’ll figure out where to go with hiring an assistant.”
Pedon was welcomed to the Illinois State program in person on Monday morning at Redbird Arena and said he was “filled with gratitude” for the opportunity.
“My vision for this program is to become a consistent standard of excellence, on the court and off, in the Missouri Valley Conference,” Pedon said during the ceremony. “And in doing that, becoming a player on the national stage once again. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us in the days, weeks and months ahead, but I know it can be done here.”
But before Pedon vies for conference titles at Illinois State, the task at hand remains trying to help Holtmann and company to some postseason accomplishments of their own at Ohio State this season. That pursuit begins on Thursday at 9 p.m., when the Buckeyes will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Minnesota-Penn State matchup in the Big Ten Tournament.