Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford fired after nine seasons

Travis Ford could never get the Cowboys past the Round of 32. (USATSI)
Travis Ford never got the Cowboys to the Sweet 16. (USATSI)

Travis Ford will not return next season as Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball coach.

The school on Friday announced in a statement that Ford and OSU “mutually agreed that the school and Ford will part ways.”

Ford spent nine years at Oklahoma State and guided the Cowboys to five NCAA Tournaments. But the Kentucky graduate never advanced to the Sweet 16 and never finished better than third in the Big 12. In fact, Ford finished sixth-or-worse in the Big 12 in seven of his nine seasons, including this season when the Cowboys went 3-15 in the league and finished ninth in a 10-school conference.

This season was Ford’s 19th as a college basketball coach. He began his career at Campbellsville in 1997, then transitioned to Eastern Kentucky and UMass before replacing Sean Sutton at Oklahoma State in April 2008. His best season at OSU was the 2012-13 season, when Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown pushed the Cowboys to a 24-9 record and third-place finish in the Big 12.

As for Ford’s replacement, sources have told CBS Sports that Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall are possible candidates. But, obviously, either would be expensive — and that is a hurdle considering Oklahoma State will reportedly have to pay Ford a $7.2 million buyout to no longer coach its men’s basketball team. Stephen F. Austin’s Brad Underwood is a less-expensive possibility, sources have told CBS Sports. And sources have told CBS Sports that Oklahoma State graduate Doug Gottlieb has support within the OSU community and should be considered a legitimate option.

Gottlieb is currently a radio host and television analyst for CBS Sports. He has never coached in college. But he is the son of a coach. And his brother is a coach. And the success that Fred Hoiberg enjoyed at Iowa State — and that Steve Kerr is now enjoying with the Golden State Warriors — despite having never coached before serves as evidence that previous coaching experience isn’t necessary to succeed at the highest levels of basketball, which aids Gottlieb’s candidacy.

Gottlieb also has the support of Oklahoma State icon Eddie Sutton.

Sutton coached Gottlieb at OSU.

“Doug is smart,” Sutton told the Tulsa World earlier this month. “I think he would be a great recruiter. If he’s smart enough to get good assistant coaches … I think he would be all right.”

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