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Chris Holtmann has been the answer for Butler

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There’s little chance Holtmann would leave Butler for Missouri, but he’s on the list, so let’s talk about him.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Butler Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With Missouri’s head coaching job opening up, it’s time to talk about some potential candidates. On Tuesday, we talked about Gregg Marshall, and on Thursday we talked about Tom Crean. Today we’re going to discuss an incredibly attractive candidate: Chris Holtmann.

PROFILE: Chris Holtmann

  • Current Salary: ???
  • Buyout: ???
  • Career Win%: .571 (196-112)

Butler is a private school, so they are not required to disclose contract details. What we know is in 2014, Butler’s operating budget was around $4.5 million. An easy estimate is right now Holtmann is probably making in the area between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Butler is a tough place to generate a lot of income. It’s a smaller school, but the tradition is rich, and the Big East, as a basketball only conference, it helping to build a profile that Butler can continue to build upon.

Holtmann took over as interim coach when Brandon Miller (the successor to Brad Stevens) requested a medical leave of absence. Not long after, the school removed the interim tag, and Holtmann did an admirable job of steering Butler to a 23-11 season his first year. He followed that up with a 22-11 season, and this year the Bulldogs took off a little bit — they had one of the most impressive non-conference season runs before settling into Big East play.

Wins over Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Utah, Cincinnati, Indiana and Vermont got the Bulldogs to Big East play, where they went 12-6 and, ya know ... beat Villanova twice.

Butler, under Holtmann, is a top 20ish offensive team and a pretty good defensive team. They utilize their strength incredibly well. They’re led by junior Kelan Martin, senior Andrew Chrabascz, and freshman Kamar Baldwin, and they play at a fairly slow pace. What they do, they do it very, very well.

A summary of Butler’s KenPom rankings:

  • 2015: 20th overall, 66th on offense, eighth on defense, 239th in tempo
  • 2016: 30th overall, 15th on offense, 97th on defense, 182nd in tempo
  • 2017: 26th overall, 17th on offense, 46th on defense, 291st in tempo
NCAA Basketball: Butler at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the part where I tell you why Holtmann isn’t leaving Butler: That place has built an incredible family atmosphere. The internal support structure is unlike anywhere else in the country. With the illness to Brandon Miller and the recent illness and subsequent death of former player Andrew Miller, the people at Butler have been through a lot, and a bond has developed. The bond deepens when Holtmann redshirts a prize freshman recruit so he can spend more time with his father who is dying of cancer.

Even beyond all the closeness and togetherness the team and program have built together, Butler committed to Holtmann shortly after he was named interim. Then they extended him. That also builds a sense of loyalty.

Missouri, NC State and whoever else can show up and flash all the cash they want, but I believe Holtmann is almost certain to stay put.

It helps he has a great recruiting class coming in, and the Bulldogs continue to get a better and better level of players. An excellent 2016 recruiting class is being followed by an even better 2017 class. Christian David, Joey Brunk, Kyle Young and Kamar Baldwin figure to be a big part of the future at Butler.

Nevertheless, Jim Sterk and Missouri will try to flash their cash to see if it’s enough to get Holtmann to take a look. It’s possible he looks, but I doubt he does for long.