Monday, August 6, 2007

So, uh, you guys wanna talk football?

Because I do.

And I bet you do too.

As much fun as writing about that cockmagnet Alford was, football is my true passion. I'm pleased to announce a new project in coordination with three other very talented writers, called The Hawkeye Compulsion. It's going to fucking rule.

With the conference and team media days out of the way, we're going to have enough for at least a post a day. Once the season rolls around, we're planning on having multiple articles a day. At least five of them, over the course of the year, may actually be based in fact!

Update the bookmarks, kids. The Hair Gel is officially no more, and The Hawkeye Compulsion is so Now.

(okay, sorry.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Just as we were about to close up shop...

...Steve Alford has returned to the Iowa headlines in typically ugly fashion.

We were going to avoid any non-Iowa news about Alford--we're Hawkeye fans, not stalkers--but the latest news from the Cedar Rapids Gazette reminds us that even though Steve Alford is gainfully employeed far away in New Mexico, he's still not far away from our hearts--or, if he had it his way, the UI's pocketbooks. Here are some highlights:

Just hours after Alford resigned to take New Mexico's head coaching position, Iowa men's basketball secretary Shelly Deutsch sent an e-mail to Rae Parker, administrative assistant to Athletics Director Gary Barta, to see how long Alford could keep his university-issued phone. She also asked about vehicles leased through the university for Alford and his wife, Tanya, and when e-mail accounts for Alford and former associate head coach Craig Neal would be shut down.

March 23, Neal asked the basketball secretary if the school would pay for his and Alford's trips to the Final Four in Atlanta. Deutsch, in an e-mail to Parker, wrote that she told Neal, ``I (doubt) it.''

Four days later, March 27, Alford asked again about the Final Four bill.

``Steve is now asking if we are paying for any of his Final Four stuff or NABC membership stuff and I said no, correct?''' Deutsch wrote to Parker. ``I told him I had already asked you for Craig, and you said Iowa would not pay (for) it.''
Give Alford credit: 99% of us wouldn't have the temerity to ask for a trip to be comped by a former employer from which we'd willingly resigned just days prior. Sure, there's no real honor or credit to be earned, but it's almost worthy of admiration. Almost. Less worthy of any glowing words, however, is the stunt he tried to pull with their university vehicles he and Tanya had been using.
Alford was supposed to turn in his keys for his two leased vehicles that day (March 27).

``He filled out the vehicle paperwork Tuesday indicating he turned in the car, but he obviously did not,'' Deutsch wrote March 28.
Now, nobody is accusing Alford of grand theft auto, or anything; the fact is that this all occurred about 2 1/2 months ago, and had he still not turned over the cars by now (or even shortly after that e-mail), we would have heard a lot more. The point is that there isn't much noise coming from either camp about each other, which indicated that the split is going well.

Nonetheless, it seems pretty clear that both Craig Neal and Alford were interested in keeping their hands in Iowa's honey pot as long as possible. It shouldn't be surprising. We know it sounds like a broken record, but this is an inevitable result of the atmosphere of adulation and idolization that has surrounded Alford since he was in high school. He's not used to getting anything less than exactly what he wants, and he probably never will get used to it.

Since the aforementioned split does seem to have been clean enough not to make any waves, it's probably as good a time as any to hang up our cleats at the Hair Gel. Rest assured you'll see us again; I'll be starting another site very soon, and I just might take Buddy Light and Deacon with me, depending on what they want). It'll remain Hawkeye-centric, but there's as much need to continue associating UI athletics with Steve Alford as there is a need to associate Gator football with that fuckwad Ron Zook. Watch this space: as soon as a new site goes up, the link, like Richard Marx, will be right here waiting for you.

Fight, fight, fight for Iowa, friends. We'll see you soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tyler Smith will average 0.0 points for the Hawkeyes in 2007-08

Horrible news from Iowa City today: Tyler Smith is being released from his scholarship at the UI. That's right, the only guy coming back who even seemed capable of leading the team in scoring last year is getting out of town. He would rather spend a year not playing basketball at all than playing for the Hawkeyes.

The situation is indeed dire in Iowa City now. The Hawkeyes lose a capable (if not terribly efficient) scorer, their leading rebounder, and their best defender. Smith has an innate sense of the game that most of the rest of the team just doesn't have; he and Haluska were the only two guys on the team who ever seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Here's what Iowa can look forward to next year. If you're squeamish, you may want to go here instead.

C: Seth Gorney (7'0", 245), David Palmer (6'9", 240)
PF: Cyrus Tate (6'8", 240), Kurt Looby (6'10", 210), Jarryd Cole (6'7", 220)
SF: J.R. Angle (6'7", 205)
SG: Justin Johnson (6'6", 190), Jake Kelly (6'6", 170)
PG: Tony Freeman (6'1", 185), Jeff Peterson (6'0", 185)

Lickliter's certainly got his work cut out for him. Nobody on the roster right now looks like an all-conference player. The only two guys who have shown any proficiency for scoring are Johnson and Freeman, and both have games that are fatally flawed: Johnson seems barely interested on defense, and Freeman contributes to more easy buckets for the opposition than for Iowa.

If Jeff Peterson has a late growth spurt in him, we'd sure like him to show up at 6'7" in September. Otherwise... yikes. Any chance O.J. Mayo wants to wear black and gold instead?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jeff Peterson commits to Iowa

Let's welcome point guard Jeff Peterson of Dematha High School (right outside of Washington, D.C.), who recently committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Here's a quick rundown of the kid:

WHAT WE KNOW: He's 6'0", and 185 pounds. That's him to the right. He comes from one of the most storied basketball schools in the country: DeMatha has won their league title 36 of the past 47 years, including the last three straight seasons. He spent three years as a backup to Virginia Tech's Nigel Munson, who averaged 11 minutes per game as a true freshman this year. He originally committed to Princeton, and also considered Richmond, Xavier, and St. Louis. He's got a 4.0 GPA and plays point guard with a similar level of intelligence.

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW: Does his lack of starting experience doom him to only one or two productive years in the Big Ten? Is he talented enough to play good offense and defense against other Big Ten point guards? Is he nearly as quick and able to penetrate as Tony Freeman (his body double) is? What does it portend for Iowa if we expect anything from the kid this year if he couldn't crack the starting lineup against someone who only got three points a game this year for the Hokies?

THINGS WE'RE MAKING UP ABOUT HIM: Learned to drive a stick shift at 11. Possesses an irrational (but not debilitating) fear of Santa Claus. Does an uncanny impersonation of Bobcat Goldthwait. Wrote an incredible 15-page analysis of determinism, and its claim that causality precludes any notion of "free will," convincing as the idea may be. He didn't do it for a grade, he was just tired of Tom Hobbes's shit!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP Paul Rhodes... And Hello Lady Soliday

I recently learned that Paul Rhodes of KCCI-TV (or, for many Iowans, "Channel 8") passed away this March. I thought I'd pay tribute to Paul's memory by posting the photo below and mentioning the incredible crush that I had on Heidi Soliday of KCCI-TV. Heidi showed up on Channel 8 just as young Deke's flower started to bloom. I'm sure many Iowans shared my love of Heidi, but that restraining order was mine and Heidi's alone.

There she is over on the right, shoulders squared, looking as prim and pert as an apple blossom in that technicolor dreamcoat of hers. Something's rotten in DSM, of course: that scum John Pascuzzi is hovering close by, seated at Heidi's left. As a kid, I could never figure out what Pascuzzi was up to: he talked about movies on TV (that's a job?) and he didn't wear a tie. Back then we called him "hippie," now we'd call him "terrorist." Either way, you're still on my shitlist, Pascuzzi.

You'll note Paul Rhodes over on the left stuck by the Cooney Couple. I suppose Paul felt obligated to stand next to the Cooneys since nobody else wanted to--a peacemaker was Paul Rhodes. Anyhow, that's 1978 (or maybe 1979) for you. A great time to be an Iowan and especially a Hawkeye fan: Gable was god, Rhodes ran the news desk at KCCI with an iron fist, and a goofy Texan by the name of Fry had just rolled into town.

And Heidi... Call me.

The spring practice two-deeps are out

Per the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Iowa has released their two-deeps. First, the good stuff, then my thoughts.

OFFENSE
WR - Andy Brodell, James Cleveland

WR - Dominique Douglas, Trey Stross

LT - Dace Richardson, Kyle Calloway

LG - Andy Kuempel, Dan Doering

C - Rafael Eubanks, Rob Bruggeman [EDIT: Bruggeman is probably out for the year after blowing out his knee.]

RG - Wes Aeschliman, Travis Meade or Julian Vandervelde

RT - Seth Olsen, Tyler Blum or Alex Kanellis

TE - Tony Moeaki, Brandon Myers

QB - Jake Christensen, Arvell Nelson or Rick Stanzi

FB - Jordan McLaughlin, Eddie Williams or Brett Morse

RB - Albert Young or Damian Sims, Shonn Greene



DEFENSE
DE - Kenny Iwebema, Adrian Clayborn

DT - Matt Kroul, Ryan Bain

DT - Mitch King, Anton Narinskiy

DE - Bryan Mattison, Chad Geary

OLB - AJ Edds, Jeremiha Hunter

MLB - Mike Klinkenborg, Bryon Gattas

WLB - Mike Humpal, Pat Angerer

CB - Adam Shada, Justin Edwards

CB - Charles Godfrey, Bradley Fletcher

SS - Harold Dalton or Lance Tillison

FS - Brett Greenwood or Marcus Wilson



SPECIALISTS
PK - Austin Signor or Daniel Murray

P - Ryan Donahue

PR - Andy Brodell

KR - Shonn Greene, Albert Young

WHOLLY SELF-IMPORTANT PONTIFICATION
As far as the receivers go, I've heard that Cleveland is very similar to Douglas, and likewise Stross to Brodell. Being that such is the case... why aren't the backups switched in the 2-deep? Maybe it's just nitpicking on my part, but doesn't it seem like Iowa ought to want one possession guy (Douglas/Cleveland) and one field-stretcher (Brodell/Stross) on the field at all times? Why would Cleveland be battling Brodell for a starting role? It doesn't make sense.

Now is the time for Doering to assert himself on the offensive line. He came in as a bona fide five-star recruit, and now he's just got Kuempel in front of him for a starting role at guard. Now, Kuempel's no slouch--far from it--but he didn't come in with All-American credentials either. Both guys are huge--6'6", within a biscuit or two of three hundy--so there's no real worry of inadequacy at the left guard spot. Nonetheless... c'mon, Doering.

Has Ferentz totally de-emphasized the fullback position? His starter is a walk-on who played linebacker last year. Granted, he was pretty good at special teams too, so he's clearly got no qualms about pinning his ears back and hitting the hell out of someone at full speed. So that's great. Nonetheless, the defensive coordinators must enjoy seeing the guys Ferentz is trotting out at fullback and being able to think to themselves, "okay, we have absolutely no reason to think that guy's ever getting the ball."

[EDIT: Turns out the starting fullback from last year, Tom Busch, is unlisted due to injury. For that oversight, I offer this explanation: He's still here?! I was sure he was a senior. Sweet.]

As far as defense goes, this is a make-or-break year for the line as a whole. While it's hard to point at one single player and say they took a major step back on the field--Iwebema didn't struggle as much he just didn't play--the production definitely wasn't there last season. I spent the entirety of last year waiting for Bain to overtake Kroul, but that never happened. I think it will soon. Bain is an absolute terror whenever he's on the field, and while Kroul definitely earned his freshman AA merits, he didn't seem to be anything special last season. Here's to hoping one of them steps up in a big way. Also, Mitch King needs to screw his head on straight. Way too many dumb penalties.

No problems with the linebackers. Glad to see Humpal and Klinkenborg back, and glad to see Hunter, who was the huge recruit for 2006, pushing for a starting role.

As far as the defensive secondary... Adam Shada? Really? Again? Is he seriously one of the two best cornerbacks on the team? Keep in mind, "best cornerback" doesn't mean fastest or quickest; it means "least likely to get torched by a receiver all game long, like maybe what James Hardy did last year." Do you think there's a single quarterback in the Big Ten who's scared of throwing at Shada? At all? Other than that, it will be nice to see the depth chart shake itself out to the point where there are clear starters. I don't know a damned thing about any of the four guys competing for a starting safety spot, other than the fact that they're clearly not demonstrably better than the other guy.

As far as special teams go, there's nothing much to get worked up over at this point. But Shonn Greene at kick returner? What is that about? Is Ferentz thinking that he wants a returner to be able to break a first tackle, or something? It just seems that Greene doesn't quite fit the mold of, oh I don't know, every great returner in all of college football history. Ferentz has lots of track stars on his roster to work with--Brodell, Chaney, Bowman, etc.--why not put one of them back there? Heck, even wunderkind recruit Derrell Johnson-Koulianos has great open-field skills. Why not put him on the field?

Obviously lots of questions going into summer. There's lots to be excited about; Iowa's returning plenty of talent, and that monster 2005 recruiting class is coming into its own. Couple that with a schedule without Michigan and OSU, and Iowa's in great position for a big year. Now, as Ferentz pointed out, Iowa went 2-4 against their current Big Ten slate last year, and PSU played in a January bowl, so let's not go buying tickets to Pasadena just yet. Nonetheless, the future is bright, friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winning the "Biggest Duh of the Year" award

Tragic news for those with a coiffure fetish: The UI announced today that Steve Alford won't be at Iowa's year-end basketball banquet this weekend. I know. It hurts me too. I know.

Undoubtedly, this move is in Alford's best interests. It's good that he make the break as clean as possible and disassociate himself from the Hawkeyes quickly. It would make absolutely no sense for him to attend.

But then again, it would make no sense to defend Pierre Pierce as passionately as Alford has, so maybe there's a bit of crazy left over under all that gel. With that in mind...

Steve Alford, I humbly request that you change your mind and attend the banquet. As a matter of fact, I'll even write your speech for you.

"Hey there, Lob--Hawk fans! Hey, whoa. Hey. Honest mistake. I'm just trying to get acclimated with my new team. It's a nice change of pace to not be at such a football school anymore. Hey! Cut it out! I don't know why you guys are throwing tomatoes at me; I'm not the one that makes Steve Alford's Gold Medal Salsa! Ha, ha, ha!

"Settle down, guys. Please. We're here for the Hawkeyes, right? Not just me, them too. That's better. Okay. Anyway. First things first... all praise and glory to Jesus and me--you gotta admit, we make one heck of a team, eh? I'm proud to announce that we kept the WINNING SEASONS STREAK alive and well at, what, seven seasons?? That's awesome, folks! That's always a guarantee for a March Situation. Oh come on. Yes--yes it is. I know what happened this year. We did too have a March Situation. This year, it just happened to be beating Illinois at Carver. March 3rd. That's March enough for me.

"Speaking of streaks, if you're into this sort of thing, we just finished our second straight season without having a serial rapist start a single game. Uh, you're welcome, ladies. Also, I'm proud to say that we once again earned a berth to the Big Ten Tournament! That was my eighth in a row! Did you know those jagoffs over in Ames haven't been to a single one yet? And still, you all thought you needed to run me out of town. You're all ungrateful bastards, you know.

"Okay, about the kids. Who played here this year? Uh, okay. Um... Haluska, you're our MVP. Duh. Way to go with the fiancee, by the way. You never want to be a college superstar, then totally settle when it comes to bagging a wife. That goes for all of you. Trust me on this one.

"As far as the rest of the kids, I have to be honest: I was not a big fan this year. I tried to recruit as many good Christians as possible, but I'm pretty sure we didn't love Jesus enough to be champions. Christ, our center's over there doing yoga and writing that Chinese moon-man garbage on his arms. And that goes for the rest of you kids. I know Jesus loves you all equally and everything, but guys, what was with all the tattooos?! Jeez, Cyrus played the last few weeks of the season with that big bandage on one of his biceps. Cyrus. It looked like a volleyball kneepad. I know you don't want to screw up your tattoo or hurt yourself or anything, but it might have sent a better message to the team if you had decided to just skip giving your upper arm a maxi pad.

"Let's get back to talking about the season. Please. I see some of you brandishing weapons that I'm pretty sure security should have taken care of. I'd like to remind you all that we beat 12 teams that went to the NCAA's this year!

"Hmm?

"Oh, uh. Not 12. Four. Whatever, nobody's counting. And! And also! We finally got over the hump and beat Northwestern this year! Okay, be sarcastic if you want, but at least it's more than that faggot football team of yours can say. Oh, and who wants to play the "which team won at Minnesota" game, eh? That's right, assholes.

"Look, see. This is why I decided to go to New Mexico. You're all being mean to me. This is the environment that I didn't want my family around. Well this, and allegedly bending my secretary over my desk. Definitely didn't want my family around for that one either.

"Okay, I see your desserts are coming. I'll be done soon. What'd you guys get? Seth? You got cake? Figures. What? No, I didn't mean anything by that. No, it's just that the cake looks like it's good. Yeah. Pretty soft, right? Exactly. Tony Freeman, how about you? That's... yeah, that's an apple turnover. Too easy.

"I'll turn this back over to Dolph, but let me just finish my tenure off with one last thing. It could have been different. All you guys had to do was worship me like they did everywhere else I ever was ever. They named a street after me before I even graduated high school. Do you have any idea what that does to someone? No, of course you don't. That means that if I don't have things exactly my way, my team will not be great. I need everything to go my way and all eyes to be on me. Therefore, I see no reason why Iowa's mediocrity isn't entirely everybody else's fault.

"In closing, fuck you all, and I am out of here."

Onto the sport that oppressed Steve Alford

Believe it or not, the football season has started wintery hell spring practice, and looms only a few short months away. While that news undoubtedly doesn't sit well with Alford, it's great news in Iowa City. So the first news about a starter isn't about Jake Christensen at QB or the Albert Young/Damian Sims duo at RB... No, it's Brett Greenwood, currently named starter at free safety. What?? Who?!

Yep... Brett Greenwood, a walk-on redshirt freshman from Pleasant Valley has emerged as the starter at free safety over Marcus Wilson, who started for Marcus Paschal twice last season.

As the article notes, the move shouldn't come as too much of a shock; Greenwood was already on the team's road dress team, so he's no typical walkon. Nonetheless, one has to wonder if the door isn't wide open for Wilson to regain the spot--or for super prospect Jordan Bernstine to make an immediate impact during his true freshman year.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Randy Peterson totally has a crush on Lickliter

There's a great story from the Sunday DM Register on Todd Lickliter. It's full of all those tidbits that you get by interviewing a 50-year-old's family:

"When the police brought me home," Marc said, "Todd was sitting there on the couch reading the newspaper and acting like he hadn't done anything - except for the fact that he was dripping wet.

"The police - they didn't even bother to question him. They still don't know that Todd was swimming illegally in that gravel pit. For all they know, he's still out there someplace."
We also hear from Lickliter's mom, whose name is Jimmye Sue (Jimmye Sue!) and who tells us things like this:
"I think Todd played a season of Little League baseball and maybe one season of pup football, but mainly, he was all basketball," Jimmye Sue said while looking through scrapbooks that featured her five children.
I strongly recommend you read the article; not only is the author's mancrush on Lickliter wildly evident, but it has this picture:
Then a mighty pelvic thrust ensued. And that, friends, is how babies are made.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Grading the nicknames

Now that Iowa has a new coach, Alford has acclimated himself to a new community, and the season is over, things will be slowing down here. We're entering the four month stretch that features great weather and baseball instead of college sports--and judging by what the ladies wear around here during that time, we're all right with that.

While we're not putting the site into total hibernation, there likely won't be many five-post days until August. When there's big news, of course we'll talk about it, but don't be too sad if Alford goes golfing in front of some cameras and none of us bother to write about it. We're jerks, not stalkers.

All that said, it's time to start thinking about the nicknames that Lickliter's going to encounter, and which (if any) are worth keeping around. Without any further ado...

1. Lick
PROS: Already established nickname in Indiana. Shortening of the last name, so it makes sense. Kinda funny.
CONS: A little weird. Verbs don't make good nicknames. Sadly, for all the talk that Iowa City is a progressive town, it's still not ready for a coach nicknamed after things lesbians do, as evidenced by the recent firing of UI men's golf coach Tommy Dykeout.
GRADE: B+

2. Bic Lighter
PROS: Funny, clean, and absurd. Rhymes with his last name.
CONS: Doesn't make a lick of sense. Go ahead and call someone--anyone--a cigarette lighter. 100% of the responses will involve a great deal of confusion.
GRADE: C+

3. Kickfighter
PROS: The most giggleworthy of the nicknames.
CONS: Technically it's kickboxing. Totally unsupported by his appearance; reminds me of this commercial.
GRADE: B

4. Dick biter
PROS: Most obvious of the jokes. Very, um, "descriptive."
CONS: Cannot be repeated in polite company, which is essential for all good nicknames. Teeth and man-regions do not go together at all.
GRADE: C-

5. Lackluster
PROS: Follows same accent structer as "Lickliter." Devastatingly dismissive. If Iowa isn't in the tourney in the next two years, expect to hear this one a lot. I kind of wish I'd never heard this one.
CONS: It's a wee bit early to start giving up on the new coach. Using it makes you look like a Cyclone or Illini fan.
GRADE: a begrudging B+

6. TL
PROS: Concise. Not an already famous set of initials (MJ, BJ, BLT).
CONS: Not very exciting. Not really associated with him as yet. Doesn't have the timeless quality that makes you say, "perfect!"
GRADE: A-

The problem with Lickliter's name is that while it begs for a nickname, none of the obvious rhymes or derivations are very good. TL's okay for now, but we're keeping our ears open for that one great nickname.

Please just let it be clean. I can't emphasize that enough.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Actual tragedy at Rice - from ESPN

Jonathan Bailey, a sophomore guard at Rice University was stabbed to death Thursday morning after a confrontation at a bar in College Station, Texas.

According to reports from the Houston Chronicle, Bailey and his twin brother Janson were found by College Station Police at approximately 1:45 a.m. in the 100 block of Lodge St. The brothers were then transported to St. Joseph's Hospital for treatment of multiple stab wounds. Jonathan Bailey was later pronounced dead; Janson is undergoing treatment.

In his first season of eligibility with the Owls, Jonathan Bailey logged 10 minutes over four games, scoring four points while dishing out an assist. He didn't play during the 2005-06 season.

This is an awful shame and an awful story. It's been said many more times by wiser men than I (the first to come to mind being TMQ, echoing Bill Cosby) - A young, visible athlete should not be out past midnight. Bad things happen to young men late at night when they're around other drunk men.

I suppose it goes less so for college students, of course; their peer set is largely those who go out past midnight on at least a weekly basis (myself included), and they're often in college towns away from large metro areas that have a worse problem with crime. Nonetheless, these attacks are--for the limited purpose of this comparison--like traffic collisions. Sometimes it's both people's fault, and sometimes it's just one person being stupid and extremely dangerous.

Our condolences to the Bailey family.

Tragedy strikes Morgantown

Sad news out of West Fuckin' Virginia today, as they've announced their next coach will be... ugh... Bob Huggins.

Look, it's great that he's going back "home" to his alma mater and hometown, but come on. It's Bob Huggins. The guy's graduation rate is about the same as his BAC. The name "Thuggy Bear" didn't come out of nowhere. And now, just because he's back home doesn't mean he's going to clean up his act or stop recruiting guys who have no business being enrolled in a 4-year-institution.

Look--I'm not taking an elitist approach to education. If those kids want to go to school, that's fantastic. But universities like "West Virgina" have admission standards because they don't have unlimited facilities. And these non-qualifiers that Huggins is famous for recruiting ought to take the legit route: Enroll in a local community college, play some ball there, earn a 2-year degree, and earn their way into a 4-year school after that. A jump shot should not be a substitute for four years of hard work in a high school classroom.

Bob Huggins is what's wrong with college basketball.

New Mexico fans aren't listening

I've said it before--don't feed Alford adulation before he's done anything. He only becomes more addicted to it. He craves it.

Nonetheless, UNM set up a publicity-grabber for him at an Isotopes exhibition on Tuesday night. Steve got to sign autographs, shake hands with kids, and *gasp* throw out the first pitch! Most precious of all, the jersey the UNM coach gave him had #12 on it. For when Steve played basketball. 20 years ago. There's a link to a small picture gallery in his blog entry with a couple precious moments.

Come on. The one thing that's stopping Alford from being a great coach is his inability to get over his past and himself. He's such a wiener for Bob Knight and Indiana that it's sickening. If you really want your coach to grow up, Lobos, you'll cut the "Gold Medal Salsa" and "Here's a jersey with #12" business and make him be a coach.

1987's a long, long time ago.

And it wants its hair back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Stumping for Lickliter

I'm heisting this post from the basketball board at the Hawks Nest. While there are certainly much worse, much lamer arguments being made about the Lickliter hire, at least this one seems honest and open for debate.

Grade: B

3 things I don't like.
-$1.2M or whatever is ridiculous, but whatever. I am not going to be a hater, I will just work at getting a job as a coach! Heck, I heard about a house that is for sale in Iowa with an indoor basketball court that could be perfect for Lickliter.
You can't fault Iowa for the salary paid, then expect an "A" hire. Like Barta said, most of the coaches they targeted already had very good jobs. Sure, it would have been great to get Pearl, but would he have been worth twice as much as Lickliter's "ridiculous" salary? If Pearl was ever going to take an offer from Iowa, I imagine it would taken about that much.
-Another Indiana boy from a small conference. That makes me nervous he will be as poor as Alford. Too many similarities.
The similarities between Alford and Lickliter stop at "Indiana" and "coached in a small conference." Past that, they're nothing alike, and if you evaluated their personalities, they'd be as dissimilar in your eyes as John Wayne and Elton John.

If you want similiarities, look at Alford and Reggie Theus, a former player who's never one to shy from a camera. He led his NMSU team to a 13-seed in the tourney this year, is more famous for his on-court expoits as a player, and desperately wants to move to a major-conference team. That sounds a lot more similar to Alford than a Lickliter guy whose background is more grounded in hard work than adoration.
-Lack of comments from current players and recruits about Lickliter, granted it is very early... but dang, if I was a player I would be making some positive comments right away.
If I were a player of his at Butler, I wouldn't exactly feel any need to "sell" him to his new school. That goes for any coach going to any new school. His guys at Butler need to move on with their college careers, and his incoming freshmen committed to Butler, not to Lickliter. At the presser, Lickliter took multiple opportunities to express his feelings that a kid commits to a school, not a coach, and that they should fulfill those commitments. Does it mean Iowa might not sneak in a 4-star forward that committed to Butler? Yeah, theoretically. Is it the ethical approach anyway? Absolutely.

As for the kids coming in, he doesn't sound receptive of the idea of releasing the committed freshmen from their LOI's, although he did stress the importance of fielding a team of guys who "want to play for Iowa." So it sounds like he wants to express the importance of fulfilling obligations, then helping the kids work towards a good season here on their terms.
3 Things I like
-His bio is really good. Worked with coaches like Collier and Matta, broke all kind of records, was the first coach to gain Butler a victory in the NCAA. Pretty impressive stuff. Don't forget 2007 NCAA Basketball Coach of the year!
I think the "coach of the year" award is a great selling point. It also bodes well that he took Butler to the Sweet 16, lost all the old guys, then re-recruited and coached the team to another tourney berth and Sweet 16 within 4-5 years.
-He has a wife named Joez, and three sons... he seems more than appreciative of getting the Iowa coaching job, and unlike Alford seems easy to like. He will love Iowa.
Yeah. This is not a good job for a single man--ask George Raveling. If a coach can do his job well, then go home to his family, he will be very comfortable in Iowa. Everything Lickliter said at the presser yesterday indicates that he gets that. Also, part of me really wants to believe his wife's maiden name is Henderson.
-Butler players and fans all are writing and saying great things about him and will miss him. Big Deal? Look at the other coaches who left universities this year... it wasn't so nice! This tells a lot about someone.
Just like you can tell a lot about a single man from how he treats strangers/waitresses, you can tell a lot about a coach from how his former players talk about him. When he mentioned at the presser that lots of his players called him to congratulate him on the new job, then said that's the best feeling a coach can have, that spoke volumes about the way Lickliter runs a program.

Will Lickliter be the next Big ten coach of the year? Will recruits follow him to Iowa? Only time will tell. For those who are inclined to
bet online or visit Vegas I would suggest you sit tight and be patient. Anything can happen
in the world of big time college basketball.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

It's okay, Dana. We understand.

I want pass along a nod to Dana Altman, former head coach of Creighton and head coach of Arkansas, and then former head coach of Arkansas and head coach of Creighton again. He's also been an honorary head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes for some time. In fact, if you've followed recent internet rumors closely, Altman still has the Iowa position sewed up and is expected to sign any minute. (As a result, I think this post qualifies as "Hawkeye related.")

Back to the nod, I understand the need for Men of Influence to act in an upstanding fashion--i.e. honor agreements, hold doors, kick cats, please & thank you, sir & ma'am, toke & pass, etc. However, you've got to tip your hat to a man who is able to realize a mistake, no matter how delayed that realization may be, and act to correct that mistake, no matter how public and embarrassing those actions may be. Was it the SOOOOOOOIE? Who the hell knows. All we know is it took Altman less time to bail on AR-kansas than it takes the namesake of this here blog to publicly detail the shortcomings of a student-athlete. And that's fast.

I suppose I feel compelled to step up for Dana simply because of his given name. Does he know that it's the feminine form of "Dan"? That's gotta be a killer, even for a grown man capable of flipping the bird to the SEC.

Anyhow, here's an Iowa Hawkeye telling you "Way to be, Dana!" Don't let those hogs give you hell.

Links to the Lickliter press conference feeds

KCCI and HawkeyeSports.com are carrying live feeds online, and those of you in the KGAN CBS2 viewing area can watch it live on TV.

Additionally, those in the Iowa City area can also watch it on Channel 17, which I think is the UI's network.

Let the Lickliter era begin!

WWJL?

This is a house of basketball! - JC Himself

You know, Steve mentioned it at his press conference, but he didn't really do the salesman in himself justice. His overly opulent mansion/gymnasium is up for sale, and if you're thinking of relocating to Coralville, now's the time.

Now, Jesus had a slight disdain for opulence, so it would seem slightly hypocritical for a WWJD-bracelet-rocking God Warrior (no, not this kind) to not only live in a $1.6 million house, but demand the contractors cut him a break on the price*, but hey... sweet gym.

There are plenty of other pictures and sickening figures on the House That Alford Built, so by all means check them out. As a matter of fact, leave an offer with the guys if you want! I don't think they want to hear my three-figure offer--not when it includes a down payment and a bank loan--but if you have two million to burn and you need lots of wooded areas to stash some snitches, it's hard to do much worse.

There were plenty of pictures of the house on the site, like the one listed above. I am moderately sure I do not have the rights to redistribute these, but until they start putting up notices of digital rights to those pictures, here's a couple!
Yikes. It looks like Tanya Alford threw up.

While it may resemble a pool cover, this is just the first letter of the message Steve left in his backyard for the next time the Google Maps satellite comes through. It says pretty much what you think it says.



*unconfirmed, yet widely disseminated rumor in state of Iowa over last, oh, 8 years.

Todd Lickliter and Butler by the numbers

(First: Huge thanks to kenpom.com, midmajority.com, and the Big Ten Wonk for their invaluable data. Without you, I am a level 50 hack, not a level 47 hack.)

(Second: if you do not enjoy reading, by all means, skip to last night's last post for an incredibly amateurish MS Paint joke on our new coach's name. I understand completely.)

Since the Lickliter (still ruminating on a good nickname, by the way; Dickbiter's a little too crass) news came down as a bit of a shock yesterday, people have been scrambling to figure out more about the guy. Most of the talk comes down to his 131-61 record at Butler (good), his two Sweet 16 appearances (very good), and his award for, oh, BEST COACH OF THE YEAR by the NABC this year (I may now be aroused).

But that doesn't really tell us too much about what sort of team we can expect from Lick. Yeah, apparently at Butler and in Indiana, they just call him Lick. Great. Do they call his wife Fellate? I digress. For example, what sort of defense should we expect? Offense? Will they be exciting? Is he seriously called "Lick"?

First, the bad news: Butler played a slower pace of basketball than Iowa did last year. In conference games, they averaged 60.3 possessions per game, whereas Iowa averaged 63.8. That may not seem like a big difference, but it's precisely the same difference between the second-slowest team in the Big Ten (Illinois, 60.3) and the second-fastest (Iowa again). Such news will, undoubtedly, infuriate the Wonk, but now he too knows the feeling of having your plaintive cries for change ignored.

All hope is not lost, however, because Butler abused the Horizon League at that pace. Their efficiency margins were insanely good; not only did they lead the league in offensive points per possessions (O-PPP) (yeah you know me) at 1.16--which would have led the Big 10--but they also led the Horizon in defensive points per possession (D-PPP) (no clever Naughty by Nature joke) at a downright miserly 0.91 D-PPP. Essentially--since both teams will have an equal number of possessions per game--Butler averaged scoring a quarter of a point more than their opponents per possession. Work that into the 60 possessions per game, and you see that Butler beat their opponents by 15 points a game. That +0.24 conference efficiency margin, in case you were wondering, is a good 50% higher than OSU's, who led the Big Ten at +0.16. By the way, if you're questioning the usefulness of efficiency margins and scrutinizing hundredths of points like this, you may want to compare that above link to the Big Ten standings.

Now I know, I know, "But they're playing in the Horizon League!" That didn't seem to hamper Thad Matta much, though, did it? He was Lickliter's predecessor at Butler, and uh, he's doing all right these days.

To be fair, though, those efficiency numbers merit mention. As far as the non-conference performace goes, of course, the season's efficiency slips to a downright pedestrian (cough) +0.165--still one of the best in the nation. Moreover, that was not against a subpar nonconference schedule; for a while, Butler was the #1 team in the RPI standings. After a rare loss to Indiana State and a few more cupcakes, Butler finished at #15 in the non-conference tilt, against the 27th toughest slate of opponents. Just so we're clear, Iowa was slightly worse.

But just characterizing Butler as "outscoring their opponents at a historic rate" doesn't quite do justice to their team's performance this year. They didn't just outplay their conference opponents, they destroyed them.

They were the best at 2-pt% and 3-pt%. Their PPWS (points per weighted shot) was an astonishing 1.177--by way of comparison, the only Iowa player who shot as efficiently as Butler did as a team was Seth Gorney. The Lotus Blossom. The Gorn Star (who desperately needs a Gornstache).

Not only did Butler shoot the ball better than everybody else, they did so while maintaining a historically low turnover percentage--look at the bottom, and increase the font size if you have to. Both their turnovers per game and their turnover rate per possession were the lowest in the nation. So they shot well. They never gave the ball away. And their defense? Magnificent.

As a matter of fact, no team in the Horizon was stingier against 2-pt shots (more on how remarkable that stat is later)--the 'Dogs allowed just 42.4% shooting from inside the arc. Outside wasn't much better for opponents, who were able to convert a hair over 30% of those shots. That was actually second-best in the Horizon, behind a Wright State Raiders team that topped the 'Dogs by about one percentage point. So Butler is mortal, and Lickliter probably didn't sell his soul to Satan. Good to know for down the road.

So why is it such a big deal that Butler led the league in 2-pt defense? For starters, uh... it's the starters. Butler's tallest starter is 6'7"--equally as tall as the three tallest backups. None of them are particularly big, per se; the starting F/C Brian Ligon is the biggest at 6'7", 240, but even he only plays fewer than 20 minutes per game.

With the dearth in size, of course, comes lackluster rebounding, which is the one "weakness" of the Bulldogs. They only gathered 68.6% of their defensive rebounds, good enough for sixth best in the nine-member Horizon. Their offensive rebounding was similarly subpar, at 29.6%--seventh best in the conference. All in all, they only gathered 49.1% of the rebounds in games played. So if there's one concern, one might say it's that. Except...

...as the Wonk has so astutely maintained, that's a tradeoff that's often good to make. As a matter of fact, lots of teams choose to be a POT: perimeter-oriented team. For example, Illinois tried it in 2005, where they were a couple shining moments away from winning the title. West Virginia has done it well enough for John Beilein to parlay it to a gig in Ann Arbor. So not only is it not necessarily a bad thing, it's a conduit to high levels of success in regular and postseason play (the prevailing wisdom on winning the thing seems to be "recruit a shitload of lottery picks," but that's another matter).

All in all, referring back to the Butler midmajority.com page, check out the "conference games only" ranks at the bottom (once again, enlarge it if you have to). Of 27 performance-based measures of play (pace being a matter of style, not actual performance), Butler led the conference in 17 of them. That's not just outplaying your opponent, that's out-practicing, out-coaching, and out-executing. It was all done with Lickliter's players--he's been there six years, after all--and it can come with him to the Big Ten. Not the "leading 17 categories" part, of course, but that high level of efficiency and performance can definitely come back.

By and large, if you're not excited as hell about Lickliter, you ought to have your head examined.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Another picture of Todd Lickliter

...what?

Welcome, Todd Lickliter

That's Todd Lickliter--apparently upon being told that Adam Haluska was not, in fact, granted another year of eligibility.

He's your next coach at the University of Iowa, according to just about everybody.

As mentioned below, he was the 2006-07 NABC coach of the year, which is really freaking cool. He runs a Big Ten-esque style of team, with stifling defense and solid offensive discipline. He maintained a very good Butler program, and one of the hardest things to do is maintain a top level of success.

As said before, the presser's at 4:45 p.m. tomorrow. No word on if he'll maintain a dour expression in front of a glowing blue backdrop, but it looks like he's already got the right tie. Maybe he'll stick with what works for him.

Set your Batwatches for 4:45

All thanks to Dweeze for the time.

Oh, and one name that was conspicuously absent from my prognostications below (which, I need not remind you, are all pulled from asscracks, be they mine or others) was Butler's Todd Lickliter. Lickliter's one of those bullcrap, middling candidates that was only named COACH OF THE YEAR!!! this season.

Here's the rest of his bio. No light stuff, this:

The current Butler coach already owns the top two single season win totals in Butler basketball history, and he has the best winning percentage of any coach in the Horizon League with a 102-54 (.654) career record. He ranks third among the "Top 10 Best Career Starts By Wins-2 years" in the NCAA Division I, trailing only Bill Guthridge of North Carolina (58 wins, 1998-99) and Everett Case of North Carolina State (55 wins, 1947-48). Lickliter led the Bulldogs to an unbeaten record at home (12-0) in 2002-03, and he's guided Butler to a 57-10 home mark over five seasons. He's also directed Butler to 45 wins away from Hinkle Fieldhouse in five seasons. The Bulldogs, under his direction, are 3-3 against teams ranked in the "Top 25," and own three of the "Top 10" winning streaks in Butler history. Three of his first five teams have ended the year in postseason play.
His overall record is 131-61 at Butler. Iowa could do a whole lot worse.

More tonight as it develops.

The pain is almost over

The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson is reporting that a presser is coming by tomorrow afternoon:

Iowa apparently has a new men’s basketball coach.

Who replaces Steve Alford remains the question.

Athletic director Gary Barta will hold a press conference “within the next 24 hours,” Hawkeye sports information director Phil Haddy said late this afternoon.

Haddy would not disclose the nature of the press conference.

When asked directly if Barta was close to introducing a new basketball coach, Haddy said:

“You can draw your own conclusions.”
Oh, Phil Haddy, you coy little prat. Of course it's to announce a new coach. Athletic directors never call press conferences just to say, "Hey, search is going great, check back in with you in a month." That might fly with the President, but this isn't some rinky-dink White House we're running here in Iowa City.

I've got to think it's one of six candidates, and realize that much of this is conjecture, pulled directly from the asshole of myself or others. In no particular order:

Rick Majerus
Tom Crean
Kirk Speraw
Gregg Marshall
Jay Wright
Ernie Kent
Reggie Theus

Of those, Majerus is the only one who's not currently at a school. That's important, because nobody has announced that Iowa has requested permission to contact any other universities to discuss hiring away their coach. So until an announcement is made by any other institutions that Iowa has contacted them, it seems as if Majerus is your man.

Past that, I would imagine Speraw is the most likely, Crean is the most prestiged, Marshall is the most discussed, Kent is the most highly seeded of the year, Wright is the most financially accessible ($600k a year at Nova???), and Theus is the "sexiest" prospect--though he's a bit too reminiscent of Alford 8 years ago. So all five others have their own merit, which is why I am wimping out and not issuing odds yet.

There is also one distant, but enticing possibility. It is possible, though wildly implausible, that Gary Barta is calling this press conference for the sole purpose of challenging Steve Alford to a duel of fisticuffs. That, readers, would make our heads explode out of amazement.

Stay tuned to the sports channels tonight (as if you have to be told); usually some reliable info about hirings leaks through the night before the presser.

Personally I hope it's Clem Haskins. I'll go from "tame April Fooler" to "downright prescient." Granted, the Iowa program will go from "perennially 17-13" to "perennially sanctioned," but sometimes you have to pick your victories.

The sticking point

"Word"* is that Rick Majerus is at an impasse with Barta over the job description. Apparently, Majerus is under the impression that his weekly coaching show will be coached by Gary The Dolphin, and not just Gary Dolphin. Majerus does not know how to communicate with dolphins, like in that docu-drama Flipper. When Barta tried to tell Majerus that Gary's not a real dolphin, Majerus reportedly said, "Well, I don't speak porpoise either!" and hung up angrily. Now both sides are refusing to take any calls from the other.

Sad situation, really.
* Total bullshit rumor

In case you hadn't noticed....


It's Opening Day today!

The Hair Gel is going to be updated only sporadically today, barring any major updates. And that's where you, faithful readers, will come in. I'll be checking my email by cell phone periodically. If anything substantial happens (likelihood: low), e-mail us at the Hair Gel at OopsPowBlog@gmail.com. Otherwise, go grab a case of Old Style beer, turn on WGN radio, and let Pat Hughes's* dulcet tones guide you through all that is great about the beginning of spring (all, that is, except girls in public wearing skimpy clothing for the first time in months).

Go Cubs go!

*nice catch, anonymous. We Iowa natives are Chicagoically retarded.

Dana Altman is the next coach...

...of Arkansas. Holy shit. Do you suppose he's playing the role of Iowa's jilted lover, his interest always unrequited? That Arkansas is the real protagonist in this romantic comedy--the Meg Ryan, if you will? Or is Dana Altman Meg Ryan? Who knows? And this discussion should stop before I start openly wondering if there's a nude scene anywhere.

The rumor mill is talking up Majerus again, with some slightly ludicrous details about awaiting the ubiquitous "test results." That's as credible as, well, this site. So acting on what's been actually been said by Majerus, he can be disregarded for the time being. It does seem kind of strange that since Iowa's been using a highly secretive search firm, that Majerus would allegedly allow himself to be so open and vocal about his desire for the job to everybody but the press.

And about that search firm that Iowa's using (even though they don't list Iowa's spot as vacant anymore on their website): screw you guys. It's great that you're all about being trustworthy and never leaking details and everything. It's just that, oh I don't know, it's exactly what this website feeds on. It's like if I made a company that made it impossible to have sex with your wife, in some sort of convoluted way that I don't even understand anymore.

Look, my point is this: I want Iowa to have the best coach possible. The search firm is the best way there. But the longer they drag this out without giving me something ("three of the top five coaches have 6 letters in their last names!" would be a nice start), the more I'm inclined to start FedEx-ing them jars of my own human waste. Work with me here.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

IOWA HAS MADE ITS CHOICE

Iowa will announce the signing of former Minnesota head coach Clem Haskins at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning. I'm very excited about the hire, and I'm sure none of you have any problems about it. More later.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

First half thoughts on UCLA

This Shipp is bananas.

B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

One quick note before I leave

Altman will apparently interview with Iowa next week.

Thank God.

More bad news

Chris Lowery just signed an extension with SIU, so he's out of the mix now too.

At this point it's looking like the finalists are Quin Snyder, the guy from Joe Millionaire, and Xzibit.

Jeepers.

21 weekend questions

1) Who will the next coach be?

A: While I obviously can't say too much (always shear the sheep, never skin it), all indications are that it's a certain former player.

2) What? Who? Give me a hint.

A: Let's just say his first name is Steve, and his last name is Carfino.

3) Shut the fuck up.

A: Okay, sorry, that's 100% bullshit. I just made that up.

4) Seriously, who's it going to be?

A: I have no clue, although Chris Lowery did give reporters a nice fat "no comment" when asked about any interest in the Iowa job. That's a good first step, and it ought to merit him at least 30% on the "Who will it be"-o-meter.

5) Any other leads?

A: I think there's still a 5-10% chance on Majerus. Remember that Roy Williams said he didn't give a shit about North Carolina on live TV, then left for Chapel Hill not a week later. Nick Saban pulled a similar stunt. So yeah, let's not throw the Majerus rumors out quite yet. There was way too much chatter for it to have been 100% bullshit.

6) What's a better nickname for Seth Gorney: Lotus Blossom, or Gornstar?

A: What an awesome question. (props to ISG)

7) Who's winning the two games tonight?

A: I'm not your goddamn bookie, but okay, let's play. Florida beat the holy hell out of UCLA last year in a similar scenario, and the Gators have everyone back. I can't stand watching Florida play and I want so badly to see UCLA take the whole thing (if only for Bill Walton stoned out of his mind at midcourt for the celebration), but it's wildly illogical not to pick Florida, right?

8) What about the Donovan rumors to Kentucky? Won't that be a distraction?

A: Nah. They weren't for Roy Williams, remember?

9) And game #2?

A: You had better not miss Georgetown-OSU. Hibbert against Oden is going to be an awesome showdown. Seriously, how many times are you ever going to see a big man duel like this? This is like Sampson-Ewing, before Ralph Sampson sucked and was no longer "really mean." Buddy Light is going to get that reference, and just about nobody else will. I have no clue who wins this game. I think Ohio State has better jump-shooters, which is the only way to beat the Georgetown defense, so the edge ought to go to the Bucks. But who knows? If Oden starts forcing his play like during the Xavier game (a game OSU had zero business winning), this could turn into a Hoya rout. Seriously, you cannot miss this game.

10) Can we count on regular updates from Mr. O.P. Surprise today?

A: Probably not. Unless something breaks in the next 3 hours, I'll be gone for the rest of the day. By the way, if you're in the area, you should head to Amana late this afternoon. The Millstream brewery is having a "3 millionth bottle of beer" party at the brewery this afternoon. Check this out. You show up between 3:30-5:30 and dink around on their bottling line. Then once the 3,000,000th bottle comes off the line, there's a big ceremony and celebration. After that, they have a party in the warehouse from 6-10 p.m. with free brats and some band called Electric Mule.

11) Is Electric Mule any good?

A: You're missing the point. FREE BRATS AND BEER. MILLSTREAM BEER.

12) Isn't it supposed to storm like crazy this afternoon?

A: I am going to get shitfaced and beat the hell out of any tornado that tries to start something with me.

13) So nothing all night from the Hair Gel?

A: Can't say. If you're lucky and you behave yourself, you just may get to hear from Buddy Light and/or the Deacon.

14) Okay. Can you put up that picture of Carfino one last time?

A: Hell yeah.

15) Okay now do someone else.

A: Like who?

16) Anyone.

A: Well, you can't really go wrong with the come-hither gaze of one Downtown Freddie Brown.

17) I am so turned on right now.

A: He's a moustache away from outpacing Wilt Chamberlain by a factor of like a million.

18) Wouldn't that make it 20 billion chicks that he would have done, then?

A: Hell yeah.

19) Okay put up another picture. Find the best player in all of Iowa history and show us him.

A: Okay.

20) AAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!

A: OH MY GOD RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, HE SEES US!!!

21) AAAAAAAHHH OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

A: RUUUUUUNNNNNNNNN!!!!

Congratulations if you were ever betting on "the field"

A whole lot of people were certain we'd be hearing about Rick Majerus announced as early as tomorrow as the new Iowa coach. Oh, wait....

Former Utah Coach Rick Majerus emphatically denied Friday he has any interest in coaching Iowa's men's basketball team.

Asked in a phone interview if there were any discussions involving him as Iowa's next coach, Majerus said, ``No, no.''

Told there were rumors and reports flying around Iowa that he is replacing Steve Alford as the Hawkeyes' coach, Majerus replied, ``No.''

Asked if he had any interest in becoming Iowa's next coach, Majerus said, ``What part of no don't you understand?''

And told later that a Cedar Rapids television station reported he'd met with Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta last night, Majerus said, ``No, I have not.''
Well. Now that the multitudinous rumors about Majerus begging to come here have all been flatly rejected, now what? Reggie Theus? Chris Lowery?

Sorry to bring you into the weekend with crappy news, Hawk fans. Majerus would have been an A+ hire.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I know you're hoping for big news

And like you, we all are as well. There's lots of people predicting that it'll be Rick Majerus with B.J. Armstrong assisting; even radio reports on Minnesota-area sports radio are saying that. No word from any local media, though.

It's safe to say that Gary Barta's going to get a lot closer to hiring somebody this weekend at the Final Four. Everybody's going to be there. The NABC has their annual meeting at the same time and place, so Barta ought to be able to find anyone he needs to talk to.

If we're talking odds, I'm going with the following:

Rick Majerus: 70%
Dana Altman: 20%
Reggie Theus: 5%
The field: 5%

Majerus, like Altman, would take the job if offered. But what the heck is with the B.J. Armstrong stuff tacked on? The guy has no coaching experience. There's still nothing that tells me Majerus is a lock to return to coaching at all. Someone's still got to take a chance on hiring him.

Nobody's really talking much about Altman anymore, though. There's word that he's already turned Iowa down, and also that he's still Iowa's top choice. So whatever.

So I'm reserving 10% on the rest of the pack right now. Boosters think Reggie Theus can get something going, but hiring him would tell the world that we learned literally nothing from the last 8 years (the similarities are downright eerie). It's hard to believe Iowa would turn down Altman and Majerus, but it's theoretically possible. There might be a few surprise nuggets coming out of this weekend in Atlanta. Stay tuned.

And yes, I totally edited it to match up with what Jebus said.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Now, I know that Iowa City is a pretty liberal town...

Does Majerus really want Iowa? Really? Let's make sure Barta knows all of the details about how Captain Bypass really feels.


A wildly unsubstantiated rumor about Majerus

This comes to us courtesy of the Press-Citizen's Hawkeye boards, and while that should automatically eliminate it from consideration, it fits in with what I've heard...

I am visiting in Iowa City. This morning, while sitting at Java House, I over heard a guy talking to a woman about the coaching position. Here's what he said:

He is Mike Gaten's son's god father. Gaten told him that Majerus called and ASKED TO COME TO IOWA.

Majerus said money is no issue. He claims to be healthy and swimming 2 miles a day. He believes he can give three or four good years. He wants BJ Armstrong to be his assistant coach and prepare him to take over.

In order to prove the legitimacy of this, the fellow called Gaten's while I was listening to check what the reason was that Mejerus backed out of the USC job.

Apparently, Gatens called Barta and relayed the information. The upshot is that if Iowa wants Majerus, Majerus wants Iowa.

The man said this will all come out soon over the radio. So we will all know soon if this is legit. I really believe it is and you all know me. I am not easily convinced of things. So, let's all wait and see...
So there you go. I can't ascribe any truth value to it, but the details sound exactly like what I've heard. It basically sounds like the Charlie Weis or Norm Parker of college basketball is begging to coach for Iowa. Begging. If it's true, Barta could do a shitload worse than taking on Majerus for about 5 years and prepping his assistant to take over.

With that, a new oddsmaker prediction on the Iowa job:

Dana Altman: 70%
Rick Majerus: 30%
Rest of the field: 0%
Steve Alford: 0%

Re-re-re-re-calibrating the odds

Dana Altman - 75%
Rest of the field - 25%
Steve Alford - 0%

Following Big Ten Wonk's advice

Big Ten Traitorous Bastard Wonk (full credit for the nouveau nom de plume goes to the iconic m go blog) had this to say about judging coaches on their March records:

3. Look at the three-point shooting of your candidate's team: if it was really good in March, discount that as a factor in your hiring. Example: for all I know, Ernie Kent will turn out to be the next John Wooden. But if he's hired based on what Oregon did this month, he'll show his true greatness in spite of his team's precociously hot outside shooting and not because of it. (Actually the same could be said, kind of, for Pearl. Tennessee left the building having shot 49 percent on their threes in the tournament.)
Well, well, well. Is the Wonk suggesting that we judge new coaches on their team's ability to convert a 2-point shot in their own offense? Is he suggesting that someone research the offensive efficiency of all the potential coaches? And are you suggesting that I'm going to let this notion go without a post and another mention for my 4th favorite tag, "math is hard"?

See you with facts this weekend, Hawkeye fans.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another recruiting violation

Hey, remember a few hours ago when I wrote about that Jake Kelly kid taking calls from Alford? Yeah, turns out he wasn't the only one Alford called.

From the P-C:

HawkeyeNation.com quotes Cole as saying that both Alford and associate head coach Craig Neal are trying to lure him to New Mexico.

"It could be an option," Cole told HawkeyeNation.com. "I’m not sure if that’s where I want to be at, but perhaps. They explained to me that it’s a basketball school and you don’t have to deal with football. They’re putting a bunch of money in their arena and building a practice facility that will open this year. That sounds good."
Oh boy. Kelly and Cole are both signed recruits. Let's see if this blows up any worse--I'm hoping "yes"; I wasn't ready for the Alford experience to go away so quickly.

About Bruce Pearl and Illinois

I'm posting this for two reasons:

1) It ought to be required knowledge of fans of both Illinois and Iowa how the Bruce Pearl/Deon Thomas story went down. It's not as if Bruce Pearl was a rogue agent, acting alone. And it's not as if he's the most sensible target Illini fans should be focusing their crosshairs on.

2) There are no rumors going around today. None. The ol' H.M.S. Rumormill got the wind taken out of its sails with Pearl's flat rejection. So until I hear more, I'm ripping off the Hawks Nest.

Originally posted by the king of the message board novella, tiggerhawk...

About Pearl, Deon Thomas, Jimmy Collins

Its been a long time, and there are so many, many salient details--but the basic facts are not all complicated.

1, First, Pearl was NEVER the major player in the affair that he has been portrayed as. What he was, was the VISIBLE character in the drama.

2. Iowa wasn't even initially involved in the "get the cheating Illini" "conspiracy" (as the Illini have always thought of it).
Ironically, current Illinois Coach Bruce Weber was involved on the other side at the outsel (though not as a significant figure). Weber was on Keady's staff at Purdue at the time, when another assistant who recruited the Chicaco area was told by a coach in the Chicago Public League that he would deliver one of his players but it would cost $15,000--the going price to match (allegedly) what Jimmy Collins was providing for delivering public league standouts to Illinois.

Purdue wasn't alone in angry frustration about the Illini. Digger Phelps, then the Notre Dame coach, and Indiana's Bobby Knight also felt that honest rograms were being shut out of Chicago, and privately the then Big Ten Commissioner (a former Hawkeye, and very close to Iowa AD Bump Elliot) wanted the situation cleaned up.

Iowa had had its own experience with the Illini methods. Tom Paine, who played on Bucky O'Connors Hawkeyes in the late 1950's, had a son, Michael, who had been raised to be a Hawkeye; and Michael had a Quincy, IL teammate named Bruce Douglas, maybe the best player in the state, that Iowa wanted very badly and thought was committed to the Hawkeyes--until young Douglas told the senior Paine that Illini boosters were providing him mom a house, and no way could he pass that by.

Bruce Pearl at the time was Tom Davis' point dog for recruiting in Illinois, and when Pearl told Davis that he feared that a Chicago kid named Deon Thomas was backing out of his verbal commitment to the Hawkeyes and that he suspected that Illini Coach Lou Henson's chief assistant, Jimmy Collins, or Illini boosters were once again offering improper financial inducements, Davis informed the Iowa AD of Pearl's suspicions.

Bump Elliott was a long term AD, one of the most respected in the nation, and very influential in the Big Ten. Most of those close to the situation assume that Bump brought the matter to the attention of other ADs around the BT. But in any case, Elliott decided that Pearl should tape record his further phone conversations with Deon Thomas. Bump requisitioned the necessary equipment and had workers from the U of Iowa electrical staff install the tap on Pearl's home phone and instruct him in how to use it.

Pearl taped the conversation, immediately turned it over to the AD--who later made the tapes, U of Iowa phone records, fiancial transactions, etc available to Dave Berst, head of NCAA Enforcement at the time.

That pretty much was the extent and the end of Pearl's involvment, with the exception of course that he was interviewed extensively by NCAA Enforcement.

There was one other development in the incident that involved Pearl directly. A high school pal of Deon Thomas had talked to Pearl prior to this, interested in finding out how he would go about trying to become a ball boy at Iowa when he enrolled the next year, and hoped Pearl would put in a good word for him. The kid had tipped off Pearl even before the taped phone conversations and told Pearl that Thomas was talking to his friends about the Illini offer--with the specific details (type of car, amount of money) exacly the same as Thomas mentions in the taped phone conversation with Pearl.

The NCAA wanted to interview the kid--whose family had sent him out of the city to stay with relatives after the major gang in that part of the city, the "Disciples" threatened his life (there were alot of ties between gang leaders and public league coaches). The kid remained in hiding until the NCAA investigation was over.

The NCAA's investigation ended in frustration. As a private non-governmental organization, the NCAA naturally has no subpoena power or any means to compel testimony or the production of records. Illinois stonewalled the NCAA, refusing to make the relevant internal records available, And the NCAA has no power to require testimony under oath & the threat of sanctions for lies and evasions.

In the end, Berst held a press conference in which he pointedly said that the NCAA basically thought Illinois was guilty of serious improprieties but they could not be proved. He emphasized that they were not exonerating Illinois, just unable to obtain the necessary evidence to find Illinois guilty of major infractions.

NCAA Enforcement did manage to nail the Illini for minor infractions, censured the program, assigned minor penalties.
It was left to the U of Illinois to clean up the mess itself--which it did a year later. It forced Henson to retire, terminated Collins employment, and brought in squeaky clean Lon Kruger to restore integrity to the Illini program

(Great irony that Kruger now is being discussed along with Pearl as coaches that Iowa is interested in).

If you're interested, Dave Berst was extensively quoted in the newspapers at the time, the NCAA released its own report and extesive summary, and Iowa & Chicago newspapers gave extensive coverage to the events, including related matters such as the account given by a kid named Ellis from East St Louis to his coach at Notre Dame of a similar offer to that made to Thomas.

The ire of Illini fans toward Bruce Pearl is unabated after more than fifteen years. The explanation for this is very simple, and hasn't changed from the start. While it was Iowa AD Bump Elliott who decided to "blow the whistle" on Illinois and authorized the tape recording of the Pearl-Thomas phone conversations to get the evidence, there was no way that Henson and Collins or the Illini apologists were going to target the highly respected Bump Elliott, a man of great influence in college athletics and an individual of unquestioned integrity--so instead they scapegoated Bruce Pearl,a brash young Jewish kid from inner-city Boston who did the job his boss assigned him.

All the principals have now moved on--Knight is in Texas, Keady retired, Phelps working for ESPN, Elliott and Davis retired, Henson & Collins forced out, new ADs everywhere, Berst promoted to cushy pre-retirement.

No earthly reason why the affair should have any bearing on Iowa's pursuit of Pearl to succeed Alford, if Barta decides to find out whether Pearl would be interested in the iowa job.

I got a lot of the details from conversations with Berst, who I had dealings with thru our company's contracts with the NCAA, and with Al Grady (the superb sports editor for forty years for the Iowa City Press-Citizen), George Wine (the Iowa SID then) & a former student of mine, then a reporter for the Tribune, all of whom were aquaintances of long standing.

Many of the key participants are still very much around--Berst no longer Director of Enforcement but still in the NCAA hierarchy, verging toward retirement, Bump lives in retirement in Iowa City, so does George Wine, Tom Davis just retired at Drake. I've no idea how willing any of them would be to reopen such a rotten waste can, but hopefully someone is going to write the definitive story of the whole affair--its a classic tale, and there is still so much need for real reform in college athletics that its a tale that needs to be heard by everyone.
Tigger, please. Thanks for chronicling an indispensably important piece of Hawkeye history.

Can't get enough Steve Alford?

You, sir (or madam) are in luck: Steve Alford has a blog (all thanks to an anonymous tipster in the comments). I'll keep a link on the side as well.

And if you're wondering if the locals are falling all over themselves to worship Alford, the answer is: yes, boisterously.

I want to thank Carl Holderman and everyone at El Pinto for having us out on Sunday for brunch. The breakfast burrito was excellent. For the record, I had green on the side. They actually had some Steve Alford Gold Medalist Salsa that my family and I thought was really neat.
That's really neat!

I have a stern warning for the people of Albuquerque: Stop. Stop it now. Once he gets used to adulation, he won't be able to get enough of it, and he will demand it. He's never going to earn it; he just needs it, like some sort of fame vampire. You are in a world of hurt.

We're not done with Alford

Sounds like Alford's already started recruiting down at New Mexico. That's all fine and good, except he's recruiting Iowa signees:

Jake Kelly, who signed a national letter-of-intent with the Iowa men's basketball program in November, told The Gazette last night that Steve Alford has invited him to play for his new team at New Mexico.

[...]

"He said he'd like for me to come and that he thinks he's got a good future here,'' Kelly said. "He said it's a big-time place and he's excited about it.''
Whoops. Fred Mims in the athletic department here declined to go as far as to call it an NCAA violation, but that isn't ultimately his call to make. I hope the NCAA throws the book at him.

The author of the story, Jim Ecker, indicates Kelly confirmed multiple times that Alford invited him to play down in New Mexico.

The crazy part is that Alford was never a rule-breaker at Iowa. He was a crappy coach, but he was a crappy coach the right way.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My name is Oops Pow Surprise, and I run this joint

At this point, the reliable, non-contradictory chatter is almost non-existent. I've heard Altman's off the list and I've heard he's the top choice. I've heard Kruger doesn't want to go anywhere, and I've heard he's Iowa's current target. I've heard Rick Majerus wants to coach at Iowa, and I've heard that's stupid. Maybe Magic Johnson actually will come coach. Who knows?

Gary Barta, if you're reading this (which he is most definitely not), drop me a line and give me a heads-up. I'll even make it a blind item so everyone can doubt it. But we'll know.

My name is Deke, and I run this joint

OPS invited me to contribute around here. I took him up if only to subvert a blog and turn this mother inside out. The beginning of the revolution is an incredibly long introduction.

As I've mentioned to OPS, I treat "tha Gel" as an extension of the Hawks Nest Online, which is the greatest assembly of sports fans known to exist. It's a tightly knit community of ladies and gentlemen who have collectively suffered and triumphed through the past 8 years of Hawkeye sports while swapping stories, recipes, and death threats.

The posts at HNO will introduce their reader to a myriad of young retards and old curmudgeons. Among these men and women number nutjobs who, for example, swear that Bullitt is and was the greatest movie ever made, compose flowery lyrics proclaiming sweet love for the varied daughters of Kirk Ferentz, claim to own the marketing rights to all uses of the term "Alfraud," attempt to convince others Hilary is a flat-out awesome candidate, or use words like "vituperative" without batting an eye. It's quite a collection.

It is a sliver of HNO's heterogeneity that I hope to bring to "tha Gel," because let's face it: when it comes to OPS and Buddy, things can become frightfully homogeneous, if you detect what I did back there and are consequently privy to my insinuation as to their sexual orientation. Furthermore, I hope that my appearance is encouragement to HNO folks to come over here and pollute OPS's comments section with assorted musings and unnecessary name calling. Why the hell not?

Finally, I can't say how frequently or with what effect I will post to this blog. I don't know that I have many more things to say about our dear, departed hoosier**. Instead, I'll remain in my HNO mode and ring in on a few things Hawkeye and maybe introduce a few Lifestyle posts into the mix, such as:

  • Charming anecdotes from my garden
  • A profile of the kid on my Babe Ruth team that made out with some Iowa City skank at the '85 Spring Game in Kinnick and wound up getting herpes because he got mouth sores right after (at least that's what my neighbor Shane said at the time)
  • An ode to the purity of video pong
  • Pictures of the dashing figure of J. Hayden Fry
  • A link to some incredibly hot yet tasteful elephant porn.
Beyond the sky, the only limit here is the patience of the proprietor of this mofo, one OPS, aka Big Baby Herky, aka Herk McSquirt. That is all.


**HAHA. Of course that's a lie. I will never, ever tire of the secretary jokes. Ever.

OK, now I'm depressed

I'm a little upset about this whole Bruce Pearl thing, for a number of reasons.

1. I like Bruce Pearl, a lot. I think he would have been great at Iowa and he would have been fun, because, let's face it, he's bat-shit crazy. That being said, I understand where he's coming from. He has a great thing going at Tennessee, why should he leave? It's probably for the best on both sides.

2. The teams that I love never do what I want them to. They always seem to fall short of my expectations when it comes to performing (usually), recruiting, signing free agents, and hiring coaches. But I should not bitch about all of this, because it's my fault. These are the teams I have chosen to root for and I am not about jumping ship every chance that I get. That's for kids from Chicago who root for the Cubs their whole lives, then when the White Sox start doing well they all pick up accents, don a black cap, and forget to shave until it's bed time.

3. It looks as though Dana Altman is the #1 candidate for the job right now, and I do not want Dana Altman yet. I don't know why, but he just doesn't do it for me. I think that Barta is doing the right thing, going after a big-name guy like Pearl, especially because of the Iowa ties. But don't stop there.

Note to Gary Barta:
Please do not settle. Go get a top-liner, not the most convenient choice.
Thanks,
Buddy L.

Creighton during the Altman era has done well, I will give them that. They have made 7 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1999 (coincidentally the year our "fearless leader" was hired; how many did he get to?) and have made it out of the first round twice. I'm not saying that's bad, making the tournament that many times; I wish Iowa would have done that. And I may eat crow if Altman comes here and wins, but all I'm saying is keep looking.

Give Majerus an interview, see what he has to say. He's a proven winner. He went "Dancing" 10 times from '91-'03 and had a tournament record of 17-10. He turned out pros like Keith Van Horn, Andrew Bogut, Andre Miller, and Michael Doleac. All of this at freaking Utah.

Also, take a look at SIU coach Chris Lowery. He's been to the tourney each of his 3 seasons as coach. His regular season record is very impressive. He's 3-3 in the tourney. He's only 34 years old, which means he could be here for a very long time (unlike Captain Bypass listed above, who may not live tomorrow). I think it would be in Iowa's best interest to give him a serious shot.

After all of this if Barta finds Altman to be the best candidate, then by all means hire him. I will give Altman a chance should he be the next Iowa head coach, but don't just rush to hire a coach for the sake of hiring a coach. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get the rights to firedanaaltman.com so that I can try to extort all of my tuition money back.