Thad Matta's Post Game Antics Draw Attention, Help Fuel OSU-UM Rivalry

Drew GatewoodAnalyst IMarch 12, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12:  Officials speak with head coach Thad Matta (2nd from R) of the Ohio State Buckeyes and head coach John Beilein (L) of the Michigan Wolverines after a play in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has added his own spice to the Buckeye program since he arrived for the 2004-2005 season. His constant gum chewing and sideline pacing are a welcomed part of the Buckeyes' bench these days.

Today was no different. When Evan Turner hit the biggest shot of the Buckeye season, Matta charged into mid-court as a red ball of fiery energy. Was he yelling his displeasure at referee Ed Hightower potentially calling off Turner’s buzzer beater? Or was he putting his own mark on the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry?

From watching the replay it’s hard to tell. It looks as if he’s focused on the timekeepers and Hightower.  On the other hand, Michigan head coach John Beilein didn’t vote for Turner during the Big Ten Player of the Year voting.

Was this Matta’s attempt at a “310 days” speech? I don’t think it was. He’d forever be a legend in Columbus if it was. But Matta has a lot of class, and embarrassing the University is something he’s not prone to do.

I can’t fault the man if it’s a little of both. Emotions run high in tournament games, and this one was no different. Add the history of these two schools, and it amps the emotions up even more. He watched his team sleepwalk through the second half and blow a 10-point halftime lead, something he wasn’t happy about, either.

“Hopefully this game can wake us up, get some of the cobwebs out, get us back on track,” Matta said after the game. He wasn’t done expressing his frustration with his team’s lack of intensity. “It's funny, I was so mad at how we had played throughout the course of the game,” Matta expressed.

This wasn’t the best performance he’s seen, but it’s got to be one of the most exciting during his six seasons for the Buckeyes. Was this excitement and frustration directed at the Michigan bench and coach Beilein? Or at the majesty of Ed Hightower himself?

It depends on whom you ask. Michigan message boards are a glow with venom spewing toward Ohio State and this classless act. Ohio State fans assume it was the officials Matta was focused on. Either way, it’s going to be a hot topic between the two fan basses during the offseason before football starts.

I’m going to side with the Hightower argument. But coach Matta, if you’re going to go off on Michigan, there’s a scarlet and gray clad army ready to go right there with you, so don’t be shy next time.

In case you missed it, take a look and decide for yourself.Evan Turner Buzzer Beater