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Boyages trying to keep OSU operating


Buckeye Beach Bum
Thanks for hanging in there :oh: :io:

By The Associated Press

Friday, July 2, 2004 11:02 AM CDT

COLUMBUS - Athletic director Andy Geiger continues to field calls, interview candidates and confer with an informal search committee about Ohio State's next men's basketball coach.

A few hundred yards away, past the murky waters of the Olentangy River and five lanes of blacktop, the business of basketball continues for interim coach Rick Boyages at Value City Arena.

Boyages and two other assistant coaches, left to handle matters in the wake of Jim O'Brien's sudden firing on June 8, are trying to be upbeat and professional even as they remain apprehensive about what lies ahead for the Buckeyes and themselves.

''I've been in this business for 20 years now,'' Boyages said Thursday. ''I've been through other transitions. I could tell you horror stories about what happens in the interim - whether it's a week or three weeks - how brutally bad things can get. That's why from the very beginning, we tried to be on top of things.''

So Boyages, LaMonta Stone and Monte Mathis continue to hit the phones to check in with recruits. As was the case before O'Brien was fired for giving a recruit $6,000 in 1999, they are making plans to visit AAU tournaments, clinics and camps to let high school underclassmen know that Ohio State basketball is still functioning.

They still report for work every day, monitoring the Buckeyes' current players while staving off their own self-doubts.

Boyages, 42, remains a candidate to replace the man whom he assisted for 10 seasons. Geiger promised Boyages that he would be considered for the job. Geiger did not return telephone messages Thursday, but he has reportedly spoken to Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, Willis Wilson of Rice, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons and Penn coach Fran Dunphy about the job.

Already 23 days into the search (it took 16 days to hire football coach Jim Tressel in 2001), it may be a few more days before Geiger recommends a candidate to Ohio State President Karen Holbrook, who is currently on vacation.

''I think it's going to take a while for everything to get done,'' Ohio State spokesman Steve Snapp said Thursday.

In the meantime, Boyages is trying to keep things running in the office. He checks in daily with Geiger and associate athletic director Miechelle Willis, who oversees the men's program.

Boyages was more than just O'Brien's lieutenant; he was also his best friend. The Wakefield, Mass., native worked under O'Brien for three years at Boston College, then moved to Columbus when O'Brien took the Ohio State job in 1998. After three years, he left to become the head coach at William & Mary. He returned to Ohio State 15 months ago - at the urging of O'Brien and Geiger - to assume his old job.

If he feels betrayed by the ugly scandal that cost O'Brien his job, Boyages doesn't show it.

After Geiger chose him as interim head coach, however, Boyages quickly separated himself from O'Brien.

''I had no knowledge of any of this,'' he said of the list of alleged NCAA violations being investigated.

Team captain Terence Dials said Boyages could provide a seamless transition if he were picked to replace O'Brien.

''He has been with coach O'Brien, he knows the system, he knows us personally,'' Dials said. ''He would be a great fit for us.''

Boyages believes that Geiger will give him an opportunity to make his case for the job.

''My sense is that everything's been very positive,'' he said of the response to his interim work.

In the meantime, the coaches watch over their flock. The three incoming freshmen are enrolled in summer classes at Ohio State. The current players are attending classes, going through weightlifting and conditioning and playing pickup games and in the Worthington Summer League. No one has asked out of their scholarship to escape the Buckeyes program.

The coaches are prepared to evaluate high school and junior college players from July 8-17, followed by another from 10-day window from July 22-31.

Boyages - still stunned by his boss' abrupt dismissal - is holding things together. He gives pep talks to players, incoming freshmen, recruits and even his fellow coaches. Stone and Mathis have been at Ohio State just two and three years, respectively, so it is unlikely they will be retained. So Boyages encourages them to pursue job opportunities after they've completed their Ohio State duties.

''The best to help Ohio State and the players and the program is to set the table as best we can for continuity,'' Boyages said. ''We're still being paid by the university. It's professionalism. What happened, happened. By the next morning, you've got to move forward.''

Just as he faces questions at work, he also encounters them at home.

''I've got three daughters - 7, 6 and 4 years old,'' he said slowly. ''We talked a little bit about the chain of events that led to this. The older two had a couple of questions.''

His voice trailed off. He didn't have any answers for them, anymore than he has them for himself.
Boyages has my vote. I'm sure that was sort of the point of that article, and normally I would try and not be swayed - but as of right now, after Geiger/Holbrook denying the other more reputable candidates (for whatever reason), I see no reason why he shouldn't be head coach for at least next season.
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