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Coaching Search Bracket: Final Four

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We know why you’re here. You watched Murray State and San Francisco. You know you want Todd Golden or Matt McMahon. Vote away. Oh, and Chris Holtmann faces Thad Matta.

We’ve hit the doldrums in the actual coaching search, but there’s still a little bit of work left for us to do. There are four candidates left, and you can set tomorrow’s final.

Did we go overboard with 15 candidates? Maybe. But readers were pretty clear in their preferences. The only mild drama involved a split opinion over Kim English, who unfortunately lost in our tiebreaker format. At the start, we wondered how much consensus would exist. Turned out, it’s more than we thought.

Maybe that changes in this round.

The format remains unchanged. We’re just deciding regional winners now. But instead of full-profiles, we’re going to compare each coach head-to-head. At the bottom of each piece is a poll, where you have 24 hours to make your preference known. The fan vote will make up 50 percent of the vote.

Who makes up the other half? The Rock M staff.

If the staff is unanimous and the fans make the same selection, easy enough. If, however, there is a consensus amongst the staff, but the fans disagree, we have a tie. To break the tie, we’ve enlisted the services of Jim Root (@2ndChancePoints), who will render the final verdict.


NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-San Francisco vs Murray State Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Semi No. 1 | Matt McMahon vs. Todd Golden

On this side of the bracket you’ll find two names you know well by this point. Todd Golden, winner over Kim English by split decision in Round 1 and then over Jeff Linder in Round 2. Matt McMahon arrives after a win over Grant McCasland and the late arrival, Darian DeVries. Both are strong contenders angling for your support.

At this point, you’re well-acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of each. For Golden, you’re looking at the young, data-driven coach who has high major experience on the bench in the SEC. He has spent a significant amount of time with two different, but impressive head coaches mentoring him: Bruce Pearl and Kyle Smith.

Additionally, he’ll have guided his Dons to the tournament in only his third year at the helm. What he lacks in established background, he makes up for with intrigue. Questions remain, however. Does his success at a program re-established by Kyle Smith mean that he has the chops for taking on a larger rebuild? Does his relative lack of experience pose too much of a risk?

For McMahon, the resume is more set. His seven years on the bench at Murray State have brought three tournament appearances. Though he lacks the high major bench experience you might want, his track record as the head coach is more established. He’s managed to build a formidable squad in 2022. And you may recall, he unearthed a supremely talented guard, Ja Morant.

By the time you read this, you’ll have been given the rare opportunity of seeing these two face off on the sport’s biggest stage. Quite the coincidence!

Not to be upstaged, they now are featured in a bracket of our own.

Poll

Which coach would you prefer to see leading Missouri next season?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Matt McMahon
    (274 votes)
  • 41%
    Todd Golden
    (194 votes)
468 votes total Vote Now

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Semi No. 2 | Thad Matta vs. Chris Holtmann

Over the past five days, we offered you a dozen coaching matchups that brought in more than 5,000 votes. These are your leaders in raw total:

  1. Todd Golden: 641
  2. Kim English: 630
  3. Jeff Linder: 600
  4. Matt McMahon: 469

Thad Matta is fifth, but he just inched past Baylor assistant coach Jerome Tang, who isn’t that much farther ahead of Oregon’s Dana Altmann. And mind you, Altman and Matta are both essentially hypothetical options at this juncture.

As for Chris Holtmann, who replaced Matta in Columbus, he’s only involved in so far as there are rumors at the periphery of the search. And his contract means MU could pay just $6.6 million in total buyouts for a guy whose salary line is basically the same as Cuonzo Martin’s. That would make Holtmann a coup. How likely is that? Not very. But you all advanced him past Dana Altman.

Matta’s tenure leading the Buckeyes is more impressive, but again, he’s even less likely to be involved than Holtmann.

Practicality didn’t win out, and I feel badly for Tang. Truthfully, he’s probably just as popular as Dennis Gates, who was dumped in the first round. Facing Sean Miller in the first round probably made the difference.

The defacto final is our other matchup pitting San Francisco’s Todd Golden against Murray State’s Matt McMahon. But we’re going to remain true to this format and all that comes with it.

Still, we beseech to cast a vote.

Poll

Which coach would you prefer to see leading Missouri next season?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Thad Matta
    (136 votes)
  • 65%
    Chris Holtmann
    (258 votes)
394 votes total Vote Now