Presser Bullets: Jake Diebler Plans to Build Ohio State Around "Family" Culture, Wants Basketball Program to Reach Buckeye Standard of Being Among "Best of the Best"

By Andy Anders on March 18, 2024 at 1:47 pm

The Jake Diebler era saw its unofficial beginning more than a month ago, but now it is officially underway at Ohio State.

On Monday, the interim-turned-full-time Buckeye head coach stood before a crowd of reporters, family, friends and even Ohio State fans as the athletics department opened his introductory press conference to the general public.

Following introductions from outgoing athletic director Gene Smith and incoming athletic director Ross Bjork, Diebler gave an opening statement then he and Bjork fielded questions from the media.

Bjork said that despite his lack of head coaching experience, what Diebler has shown in his leadership traits, recruiting and vision through his eight games as interim head coach and in the interview process made him a clear candidate.

Diebler's long-term vision for the program centered on family, a family that holds each other accountable and strives to live up to the expectations at a "special place" like Ohio State. He also stated that his goal is to serve the program as best he can and get it to a place where it meets the Buckeyes' standard of being "the best of the best."

Ross Bjork

  • Bjork said the search for Ohio State's next head coach started from his home in Texas in February following Chris Holtmann's firing before he even arrived in Columbus in March.
  • Ohio State's athletes topped Bjork's list of thank-yous. "I really want to commend them, because we're here because of our athletes first and foremost."
  • Ohio State president Ted Carter couldn't be at the press conference due to a scheduling conflict, Bjork said, but added that Carter is "fired up" and was impressed with Diebler as he followed him closely throughout the hiring process.
  • Bjork spoke with "at least 15" former players to ensure that Diebler was the right choice. "It was great to hear they expect excellence. ... It really validated that Jake is the right guy for the job."
  • There's a lot of confidence Bjork has in Diebler. "With the right adjustments, we know that we can cut down nets and raise ladders."
  • In closing for his opening statement: "This is a calling for Jake Diebler. Ohio native, son of a coach ... he had to work for everything that he's achieved. Hard work defines Jake Diebler. ... It just made all of this feel right and I'm confident in the future of Buckeye basketball."
  • Diebler's youth, understanding the ins and outs of the modern game and recruiting made him stand out despite never being a full-time head coach. "He's the real deal, he knows how to live at the highest level of college basketball, so to me that made up for the lack of long-term coaching experience."
  • Bjork felt that Diebler outfoxed coaches tactically on the court who have been head coaches for a long time.
  • On what his expectations are for Ohio State: "I think we should consistently be in the conversation for Big Ten Championships. ... We have a blueblood-type program, now we need to be consistent in maximizing those ingredients."
  • On evaluating Diebler long-term rather than just thinking short-term: "Do you have a plan, are you prepared to make the adjustments that we need to make? ... There are innate leadership abilities that you see manifest in conversations. ... He's doing everything that's best for the program in the time ... that came through in the process."
  • Diebler's authenticity and relatability also made him a clear choice, Bjork said. "You see the way he connects with our current players, with our former players, with our donors ... it's not fake. ... That's just real and genuine, and to me that carries over to whatever realm we're gonna be in."
  • On where Diebler needs to grow: "He's done it the eight games as interim head coach, now you're moving over. ... Having the ability to handle (the stature of Ohio State) ... we're gonna have to help him through that."
  • On whether stability was important in the hiring process: "The added bonus of this is the timing. He's already been hitting the ground running from a recruiting standpoint ... but he had to fit the other things first. ... The leadership and the wherewithal has to be the first thing."

Jake Diebler

  • In opening, Diebler made it apparent that he's grateful and excited for this opportunity. "Growing up you have dreams, and you never fully get to predict if or when those dreams will come true. So I just want to praise God for being able to live out a dream of mine. This is a dream."
  • Diebler's thank yous included Smith, Bjork, Ohio State's current team and staff and plenty of others. "You're gonna hear me talk about, over and over again, family."
  • Diebler told Ohio State's former players gathered in Value City Arena that he's gonna do everything in his power to "get this program where it belongs." "I'm humbled to be in this position, I take so seriously the foundation that you guys laid for this program."
  • He and Bjork's expectations are aligned, Diebler said. The goal is to cut down nets and win championships. "Family is a multi-dimensional thing, what each member does affects the other. ... Ohio State is a special place."
  • "Ohio State is the best of the best and we are going to do everything we can to push this basketball program to align with that."
  • On how to build on the eight-game run he's gone on: "Timing's going to be important. It's still about serving our players as best as I possibly can and serving this program as best as I possibly can. ... We need to finish this season well first."
  • On the impact of his faith on him: "It means everything. I was asked during this process, 'How will handle everything that goes into being a head coach at Ohio State.' It's my faith. ... I got into coaching because the most influential people in my life were coaches. ... So why I got into coaching was to have that same impact on guys."
  • Diebler is very proud of his background coming from Northwest Ohio, the "419." "I take a great deal of pride in that."
  • Value City Arena has meant a lot to Diebler, who met his wife on its grounds. He hopes to surpass all the memories he's made so far with what he achieves as head coach at Ohio State. "To this day, my greatest memory in basketball is being on this court winning a state championship."
  • The relationship between Ohio State and Ohio high school players and head coaches is "critical" Diebler said. "When you put on an Ohio State jersey and you're from the state of Ohio, you get an extra two to three percent."
  • On the 24 hours after getting back from the Big Ten Tournament: "There were a lot of different emotions going on. ... There was just an abundance of joy and happiness. ... It was an emotionally wild day."
  • On the dichotomy between recruiting and the transfer portal: "I think balance is important. ... We're able to recruit talented high school players ... but we also need to utilize all the resources available to build the best roster possible."
  • Conversations have started on whether players already in the program will transfer, and more on that will come after the season, Diebler said. 
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