Thad Matta has reportedly interviewed for the vacant Pitt men’s basketball head coaching position, according to Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The interview took place late this week after Matta turned down an offer to coach at Georgia that was reportedly worth $16 million over five years. He also previously showed interest in the Ole Miss position, but nothing came of a meeting between the two sides in Oxford.
Those positions have since been filled by Tom Crean and Kermit Davis, respectively, and Pitt is one of few remaining schools that can afford to pay top dollar for a new coach.
Matta is said to be interested in the Pitt position, but his comments regarding the Georgia job beg questions about his desire to take on the kind of rebuild that would be required in Pittsburgh, especially given that the university is situated in a difficult recruiting area.
After turning down the Georgia job, he discussed his decision with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
“It was the most difficult decision, because Georgia is a tremendous opportunity for a coach to build a great program,” Matta explained. “Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that I am completely ready at this point to give Greg McGarity and Georgia what they deserve.”
With that said, aside from a one-year stint as an assistant at Western Carolina in the mid-1990s, Matta has spent the entirety of his coaching career in Ohio and Indiana, meaning Ole Miss and Georgia may not have been quite the fit he was looking for, despite his obvious appeal to those schools as a big-name coach on this year’s carousel.
Pitt may prove to be a better fit, though, as it’s just a three-hour drive from the site of the coach’s greatest successes, and his name alone could bring in recruits from throughout the region — and likely beyond — despite the program’s recent struggles.
That reputation is the result of Matta’s tenure at Ohio State, where he became the winningest coach in program history with a 337-123 record. Prior to his time in Columbus, Matta coached at Butler and Xavier and saw similar success. He has won 74 percent of the games he’s coached in his career and has never led a team to a losing season.
In addition to his track record of success, which is unparalleled by most coaches, let alone those who happen to be available at the moment, Matta has a link to Pittsburgh in Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, as the two both served in Ohio State’s athletic department from Matta’s arrival in 2004 to Lyke’s departure in 2013.
Time will tell if anything comes of this development, but with Matta and Crean among Pitt’s first reported interviews, the university appears to be on the right track in its search to replace former head coach Kevin Stallings.