Gregg Marshall isn’t going to coach basketball at Wichita State forever.
But he might coach the Shockers for a long time. He might. Stranger things have happened.
Marshall already has a good job. Better than a good job, even. And he has helped immensely in elevating the prestige of the Wichita State basketball coaching job with the amount of success he and the Shockers have enjoyed the past three seasons.
It must also be pointed out that WSU did not make it to the NCAA Tournament in any of those seasons. And that, with Thursday’s first-round game against VCU looming, Marshall is still looking for his first NCAA victory in five seasons at Wichita State.
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The firing of Darrin Horn at South Carolina couldn’t have come at a worse time, at least for Shocker fans. Marshall is from Greenwood, S.C., and has expressed often his affinity for South Carolina basketball as a kid. And now that job is open with Horn out after only four seasons.
I’m writing a column for Thursday’s paper about the potential of Marshall and South Carolina. For my blog, I’m going to attempt to rank the Wichita State job as it relates to other Division I jobs across the country. You’re welcome to play along because this is being done very informally.
I’m using salary, tradition, recruiting base, prestige and support as the bases for these rankings. Obviously, Wichita State isn’t as good a job as North Carolina. But it might be as good as Georgia Tech, for instance. At least in the discussion.
There are several jobs that are obviously better than the Wichita State job. I’ve listed: North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina State, Florida State, Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Louisville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Connecticut, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, Memphis, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Stanford, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas.
That’s 42 jobs. If you dispute any of them, I’d be curious in knowing which ones.
There is another group of jobs that I would say are comparable to Wichita State overall. They include: Iowa State, Iowa, New Mexico, UNLV, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Creighton, BYU, Gonzaga, Alabama, Mississippi State, USC, Colorado, California.
That’s another 14 jobs.
Which means, any way you cut it, the Wichita State job is in the top 15 percent nationally. And considering that the Shockers have only two NCAA Tournament games since 1981, it’s pretty incredible. But I’m convinced of it, mostly because of the 10,000-plus fans who block to Koch Arena to watch the Shockers play and the quality of the team under Marshall, who I believe is on the verge of making Wichita State a borderline perennial NCAA Tournament team and dominant program in the Missouri Valley Conference.
It’s tough to win anywhere, but it’s especially difficult to sustain winning at a place like Wichita State. There are no obvious recruiting pipelines; they have to be created. And Marshall, along with his coaching staff, have been able to create. WSU is on the verge of being one of those re-loading programs, I believe. Not the rebuilding, up-and-down program it has been for a years and years.
Marshall has a great thing going at Wichita State and he knows that. I would guess that when he took the WSU job five years ago, he had no idea of the gold mine it could become. He’s making a competitive salary and Wichita State has not balked at giving him more money with more success.
I’ll write more about this for my column tomorrow, with some stronger views that might surprise you.