April 29, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

What Went Down in Columbus?

OSU Coaching Process, Gwozdecky's Involvement, Still Raises Questions

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

It's a given at this point that Denver coach George Gwozdecky did not simply meet with Ohio State officials to share stories and have tea and crumpets.

Our news story prior to the hiring of Mark Osiecki, mentioned three interview candidates, plus the news about Gwozdecky's interest and his denial to the Denver Post. But delving deeper into the story, it's clear there was more to it.

It's been known in coaching circles that Gwozdecky was not happy after finding out mid-season he was no longer the highest-paid coach at the university. Consequently, Gwozdecky met with Ohio State officials about the coaching opening.

The question is whether Gwozdecky merely used OSU as leverage for a new contract at Denver. Or, if not, then why did he turn it down? Was Ohio State unwilling to meet his contract demands either, did Gwozdecky decide he preferred to stay at Denver, or was it a combination?

The whole thing still seems weird.

I received numerous e-mails from Ohio State alumni when John Markell was let go, proclaiming that Ohio State should be going after a "big name." One writer said that Ohio State should be making a play for someone like Gwozdecky or Miami's Enrico Blasi — because, in their reasoning, Ohio State has the allure of being a "Big Ten school."

I poo-poohed all of it. Why, I said, would either of those guys leave for Ohio State? Both already have great jobs where they are kings, and wouldn't have anything at Ohio State they didn't already have. The Big Ten allure is hardly on the radar for a college hockey coach, especially going from hugely successful programs to Ohio State — which has relatively little hockey tradition.

But then along came Gwozdecky.

Certainly, Ohio State has the resources to overwhelm a coach like Gwozdecky with an offer and promises of a new arena, and so on. But Ohio State has shown no signs of going there, and the Big Ten concept is still just a dream at this point. So why would Gwozdecky even think about it? I can't believe that Gwozdecky would have that much animosity towards Denver to make such a move. It doesn't really seem to be what he's all about. It's possible he's just looking for a different challenge, and knows, with Denver's roster depleted after a very disappointing season — when he thought he had a championship-caliber team — that it's the right time to do it. But I'm still betting on it all just being leverage and a smokescreen.

My bigger questions have to do with trying to figure out what in the world Ohio State was doing.

Chris Schneider, the assistant athletic director who was in charge of the hire, is unavailable until next week, and has not returned messages. So trying to figure out OSU's thinking is difficult to begin with.

Why didn't Ohio State give a sniff to numerous highly-experienced, successful, well-qualified current Division I head coaches — but then court Gwozdecky like it was putting all the eggs in that basket, and that's it?

Don't get me wrong, the three assistants OSU interviewed — Osiecki, Casey Jones and Mike Cavanaugh — are all well-qualified guys. But how does the process include those three, Gwozdecky, and then nothing in between? Names like Princeton's Guy Gadowsky, Union's Nate Leaman, Lake Superior State's Jim Roque, or the USNTDP's Ron Rolston. None got a phone call. Or Ohio State alums Dave Smith, Canisius' head coach, and Paul Pooley, former Providence head coach and assistant at Notre Dame. Again, not a sniff.

And then out of the blue, here comes George Gwozdecky? Strange.

And, again, not that there's anything wrong with Osiecki, but I still find it unfortunate that Casey Jones' past with the Buckeyes — 11 years as an assistant — hurt him more than it helped him. One day, OSU may regret that as well.

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