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.

"So much love, and also so much information."

More bad news today. The Hair Gel's favorite college basketball blogger, Big Ten Wonk, is hanging up the Chuck Taylors after this season. Sort of. Not really. Says the Wonk:

I've decided that this will be the last season of "Big Ten Wonk."

Next season I'll continue to write on a regular basis on college basketball. I just don't know where, exactly. Watch this space for a referral.

Regular readers know that this past season I spent less time on, say, Northwestern than on North Carolina, Florida, UCLA, Kansas, Georgetown, and Butler. I know this shift befuddled a few of you and, given this blog's title, any befuddlement was entirely reasonable. So now I want to end that confusion: I want to write about college basketball. The whole thing.
Tearful and despondent, I was moved to rip off poetry. With a doff of the cap to Jack Byrnes...

You gave me tempo-free,
You gave me PPWS,
You gave me Oden.
Your name was Wonk,
A wonk from the Big Ten.
But you were also a wonk of the rest of basketball,
And it needed you, too.
I selfishly tried to hold on to you,
While other conferences ate away at your heart,
Like an unstoppable rebel force.
And now we'll meet in Heaven,
And I shall see you
Probably next year, probably next year, (sniff) probably next year.

Re-re-calibrating the odds

Dana Altman: 50%
Rick Majerus: 25%
Chris Lowery: 15%
Lon Kruger: 5%
Tom Crean: 5%
Bruce Pearl: 0%
Steve Alford: 0%

Goddammit.

Things just got a whole lot less interesting

It took Bruce Pearl less than half an hour after the contact announcement to turn down the Iowa offer. Sweet.

University of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said today he’s "not interested" in the head coaching vacancy at Iowa.

"I’m not leaving Tennessee," the Vols coach said.

The University of Iowa had officially contacted Tennessee and requested permission to talk to Pearl about its job.

UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton said today he had granted Iowa permission to speak with Pearl.

"They made contact with me this morning," Pearl said. "I listened out of respect for their program. I thanked them for their interest.

"The thing we need in this program is stability. It would be my decision to be at Tennessee for a long time."

Things just got very interesting

Per the Knoxville News-Sentinel...

The University of Iowa has officially contacted the University of Tennessee and requested permission to talk to Bruce Pearl about its vacant head coaching position.

UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton said today he has granted Iowa permission to speak with Pearl.

Huge news. HUGE. Assuming there's no clandestine negotiating going on, Pearl is clearly Iowa's first choice. He and his staff both have big ties to the state of Iowa, so a move back makes sense for him too.

There are two ways this scenario will end: Bruce Pearl will either be coaching in Iowa City next season, or Tennessee is going to make him incredibly wealthy. He makes $1.3 million a year in Tennessee right now and is returning a much better team; Iowa had better be prepared to shell out TONS of money.

Quick odds recalibration

Altman: 40%
Pearl: 20%
Majerus: 20%
Lowery: 15%
Crean: 4%
McConathy: 1%
Alford: 0%

I'm still not ready to put Altman at 50%, but I have heard some unencouraging things about everybody else recently. For the record (and I'm sure you were all dying to know): I'm happy with all those candidates except for the last two.

The first candidate to officially consider

For all the speculation we do, it's useless next to good, old-fashioned paperwork. And there's finally one coach who has filed all the necessary paperwork to become the next coach at the UI.

And it's... the guy from Northwestern State. Seriously.

You bastard.

You magnificent bastard.

Now, look. We know that there's no possible way this guy's getting past "considered briefly by the committee before they mail him back their own poop" status. We get that. And there's something pristinely reasonable (albeit specious) about the logic behind, "I did better than your coach with those guys, imagine if I could recruit to your school."

The fact remains that offering to coach here is a dickish proposition usually reserved for plot twists in Prison Break (season finale, next Monday). Its sheer audacity leaves us as flabbergasted as Ron Burgundy when he learns Baxter can eat a whole wheel of cheese. We're not even mad.

Mike McConathy is a man who has ripped out the Hawkeye faithful's heart, only to discover some serious aortal blockage (and if you think we're above comparing Steve Alford to cholesterol, you are high). He has since facilitated its removal and placed our heart back in. And yet, our heart remains damaged because some guy dressed in purple RIPPED IT OUT OF OUR GODDAMN CHESTS.

In short, well played, you fucking asshole. Thank you for using the biggest kick in the nuts in Iowa history to drum up some free publicity. To do so requires nuts so big, you need a wheelbarrow to cart them around. And that is why we hate you, Mike McConathy... but we respect you.

(P.S. Fuck no you can't have the job.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

The next Iowa head coach will be...

...named soon!

C'mon. You didn't really think I had the answer, did you? Of course I don't. Gary Barta doesn't even know who it'll be yet. If you want me to start tossing out baseless rumors, I'm going to aim a lot higher than who will coach a college basketball team. I aim big. Like "aliens run the shadow government and have a mind chip in George W. Bush's skull!" big.

That said, I do hear rumors, and while I don't have permission to repeat them verbatim, I'm ready to give my odds on who the next coach will be. You'll notice that nobody's at even 50% yet. That's because nobody has established themselves as a leader yet; there's too much going on outside of Iowa's control still. Nonetheless, let's start breaking it down, Hair Gel style.


1. Bruce Pearl, Tennessee head coach: 35%

PROS: Rumors are flying that he doesn't have any grand designs on staying in the south, where--and I'm sure this will come as a shock--the culture isn't perfect for a Jew from Boston. Coaches a fast, aggressive style of play that aggravates opponents and entices high-level recruits. Would evoke guttural feelings of hatred from Illinois fans that may spark interstate military escalation.

CONS: Already in a very financially advantageous position in Tennessee. May be assassinated upon arrival in Champaign-Urbana. Has no qualms about appearing on national television without a shirt on. May be insane.

VERDICT: If he wants the Iowa job, it's his. The only major worry--and it's substantial--is that Tennessee can afford to throw as much money around as Iowa can. Also, Michigan could very well come calling, and it would be awfully hard to call the Iowa job more attractive than the one in Ann Arbor.

2. Rick Majerus, former Utah head coach: 30%

PROS: Won six straight conference championships. Took Utah to NCAA championship. Has recruited numerous all-conference players and several high NBA draft picks. Basketball genius who is reportedly looking to get back into coaching. Closely connected to current UI strength coach Chris Doyle.

CONS: Innumerable health concerns. Diabetic. History of heart problems. Backed out of deal to coach Southern California a few years ago. May not be a long-term solution for Iowa basketball. Would force me to register www.RickMajerusDeathWatch.com.

VERDICT: If the rumors are true and he wants to get back to coaching, Iowa would get a long look. He is apparently on a strict health regimen with the help of Doyle, so some health concerns may be allayed. On that note, though, his health has improved since he left coaching; returning to such a high-stress job would most certainly be a detriment. If he were 100 pounds lighter and 5-10 years younger, he could coach wherever he wanted in the NCAA. If he determines that he is capable of coaching and recruiting while not placing his health at risk (which does not, at this point, seem likely), then he ought to be welcomed at Iowa.

3. Lon Kruger, UNLV head coach: 15%

PROS: Wins everywhere he goes; has taken four different teams to NCAA Tournament. Universally respected by peers. Has made a habit of taking lousy programs and turning them into winners. Would, once again, infuriate Illinois faithful, especially after first win in Champaign-Urbana. "Without a doubt, Lon is one of the best tacticians in the game. I love Lon. He does everything above board. He has a program fans can be proud of." - Coach K.

CONS: Goes a lot of places; Iowa would be his seventh head coaching gig. Has the stink of coaching for the Illini on purpose. Another prime candidate for assassination in Champaign. Has not given too much indication thus far that Iowa is an attractive destination. Already in mid-fifties. May kill you if you fall asleep.

VERDICT: If the Bruce thing doesn't pan out, Iowa would love to land Kruger. The problem is, so would Michigan. And then there's that whole business that the Krugers love Las Vegas and probably wouldn't go and move again just for an extra $400,000 a year or so. Not much about the move makes too much sense for Kruger, which is a shame for Iowa.

4. Dana Altman, Creighton head coach: 15%

PROS: Has taken Creighton to the NCAA tournament in seven out of nine years. Got new stadium built. Has incredible relationship with city of Omaha. Still in mid-forties. Lacks obnoxious haircut. Would take Iowa job if offered, after having turned down multiple offers from other schools (including Miami-FL).

CONS: Not an "exciting" head coach. Left KSU after mediocre performance. Questions abound about recruiting capabilities. May not be best available coach in MVC (Lowery, SIU). Hell, just look at the guy. You getting pumped? No? Nothing, huh?

VERDICT: Although he's not a top-tier, "home run" candidate, Altman would be a safe bet. He's classy, wants to coach here, and probably wouldn't bolt to the NBA or anything crazy. If the Pearl and Kruger deals don't come to fruition, look for Altman to come to Iowa City. Iowa could do a whole hell of a lot worse.

5. Tom Crean, Antarctic explorer: 5%

No, wait, wrong Tom Crean. Let's try that again.









5. Tom Crean, Marquette head coach: 5%

PROS: Has built Marquette from a mid-major into a major force in the Big East. Can recruit very well. Is universally respected in college basketball.

CONS: Not much, except there's the whole "how would Iowa be a step up in any way, shape, or form for Crean" business. Has never explored the Antarctic.

VERDICT: Hey, until he says he's not interested in leaving Marquette, the door ought to stay cracked open here. What if he gets an offer of $2.5 million from Iowa or something wildly outrageous? It's a theoretical possibility.



6. Steve Alford, New Mexico head coach: 0%

God, that just feels so good to see in print.

Notes from the Gary Barta presser

Gary Barta was awfully impressive in his half-hour stint in front of the microphone. Ultimately, that won't mean much; the proof will be in how he builds the athletic department, not in how professional he sounds when he talks to reporters. Nonetheless, I have a great deal of confidence in him right now.

One of the best aspects of his press conference was a genuine faith in the quality of the Iowa program. There was no garbage like, "we have to be realistic about what we can offer a new coach, and I'll be honest, it's not very much." He thinks the Iowa athletic department is one of the best in the nation (true), and he'll hire accordingly.

He mentioned a need to be swift for hiring a replacement, but wouldn't set a deadline. That's very good. The last thing Iowa needs is to go to a backup candidate who's more willing to relocate just because of an arbitrary deadline that was set a couple weeks prior.

He then mentioned something that, quite frankly, begged to be twisted and misconstrued, especially by the serial twisters and misconstruers. He's forming a small search committee. Now, a lot of people remember Bowlsby making a committee to help with the football hire. That turned out okay (Ferentz), but it wasn't Bob Stoops (who had no designs on ever coming here as long as Oklahoma was hiring), so a few mentally incapable people blamed Bowlsby and the existence of a committee on that fact. Whatever. Anyway, Barta himself said that he alone would be making the final recommendations to the president, and that the committee's function would be to narrow down the field until all the candidates meet all of Barta's criteria. Seems fair enough to me.

As far as what the criteria are, the new coach should know basketball and be a proven winner. Barta expects Big Ten championships and postseason success. In other words, if Alford were a candidate right now, he probably wouldn't even get past the committee. Barta also wants the UI to be competitive academically, and wants a coach with a track record of recruiting kids who want to go to school and earn a degree. The new coach ought to have leadership skills (I apologize if this part sounds like a Coach K commercial) and the ability to develop his players into young men (sorry about that). Last, Barta emphasized that above all else, the new coach ought to represent the UI and the state of Iowa with integrity and class at all times. That was pretty awesome.

The question time didn't tell us much new. Barta just said that he's going to prefer having a great deal of D-I coaching experience, so that Mike Dunlap guy is pretty much out of the running. That's fine. He also said that experience at the UI wouldn't be necessary, but the new guy ought to fit in well at Iowa City. That was about the 15th time during the conference that Barta could have put "unlike Steve Alford" at the end of a sentence, but refused to do so.

The money issues came up, and Barta (wisely) wouldn't commit to a number right away. He did say that the UI would be competitive as always, and would pay based on what the new coach brings to the table. If it's Bruce Pearl (wink), expect somewhere around $1.2 to $1.6 million. Also, someone asked about shoe deals. Barta gave a response that, while non-committal, left little doubt that Iowa would continue to deal with Nike. I don't think any of the candidates would mind switching to Nike.

Barta was asked pretty frequently about Alford's departure. As usual, Barta kept it classy and kept telling the reporters to ask Alford instead. He said their conversations had been regular, so there wasn't much of a shock to his decision to resign and go to New Mexico. Personally, I don't think he gave much of a fuck about why Alford was leaving. That's irrelevant, isn't it? He wanted to go, screw it, let him. It's like if you're gorgeous, but you pigeon-holed yourself into a relationship with a hairy, sweaty beast of a person with a poor attitude (works for either gender or non-traditional lovers). If they tell you they want out of the relationship, aren't you doing cartwheels in your head?

Near the end of the presser, we at the Hair Gel did get some bad news. Barta said himself that he doesn't go online to any of these sites. :-( Gary. Make an exception for the Hair Gel. I'll let you write stuff, and I won't even edit it, unless you spell and punctuate like a 3rd grader. Sorry... just a pet peeve.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Notes from the Steve Alford presser

Sadly, Dr. Schmidly didn't talk much. It turns out he's just the "incoming" president. Huge drop of the ball by UNM. If a man is named Schmidly, you give him hours with a microphone. Hours.

Nonetheless, after an unjustly brief introduction, they brought out the UNM AD, whose name is Paul Krebs. Schmidly and Krebs! This is too good.

Krebs's introduction was also brief, but two things jumped out. First, Alford was their first target the entire time. That was the case despite the fact that Steve Alford is Steve Alford. Honestly, I just don't understand athletic directors sometimes. The other big fact was that Alford is making a hair under a million per year at UNM. So he's resigning and taking a pay cut to join a school in a conference that has never rated as high the Big Ten in its entire existence? That makes so much sense my brain just melted.

Krebs (heh heh) didn't stick around long before they introduced Steve Alford, at which point Alford put on a garish, Sidney Lowe-looking red blazer. Immediately, he couldn't help but make a reference to his Indiana playing days, remarking about the 20 years it had been since he wore that color. The poor guy just can't let go, can he?

Alford was remarkably gracious to the UI througout the press conference, and made some cute jokes about putting green chilies on eggs. It was good. The thing is, though, the guy's always been good at introductory press conferences. The people in attendance were giving him a standing ovation before he even said a word. That hadn't happened in Iowa in years. His hair looked impeccable (of course). Standing there and making promises that people can't call BS on yet, smiling for the cameras... that's Alford's comfort zone. So of course it went well.

He did keep referring to the passion surrounding New Mexico basketball and their commitment to winning. Huh? How can he pretend that wasn't already there for his taking at Iowa? Before his teams stopped winning, he had all the support in the world at Iowa. The student section was freaking gigantic. And he screwed it all up.

Speaking of promises made that he can't back up, he repeatedly stated that he wanted his team to be the most physical, best-conditioned team in the conference. I'm amazed that nobody raised their hand and asked him to explain why there are only two or three players on Iowa's team with any sort of visible muscle definition. Alford also told the press corps that he and Neal specialized in individual development. Amazingly--and I did have the sound up extremely high to hear the reporters' questions--nobody in the entire room yelled "Bullshit!"

The most telling moment of the entire press conference didn't come until the very end, when some asshole asked him to describe the toughest lesson he learned in Iowa City. Alford's response was a stammering diatribe about the media's inability to understand why he needed to support his players. He didn't mention Pierre Pierce by name, but that would have been unnecessary. Who it was isn't important. Alford's reaction to it is. And as he stood up there and said he may not have been actually talking about a "lesson" (he wasn't), the message was clear. He hasn't really learned anything. And New Mexico ought to expect no more than what he brought to Iowa: a soul-crushing blend of self-promotion and mediocrity.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Watch the New Mexico and Iowa press conferences online

[Both sites require Internet Explorer. Sorry.]

Both schools are part of the CSTV network, which is good news for online content. Thus, both schools are webcasting the press conferences free.

3 PM CDT - UNM press conference
Go to golobos.cstv.com and click on "All Access" on the right, above the chick with the large head. From there, register if you have to (it's free and takes about 5 seconds), then click on the "PRESS CONFERENCES" tab.

4 PM CDT - UI press conference
Go to hawkeyesports.cstv.com and find the "All Access" button on the right again. It's a bit harder to locate, but it's there. From there, repeat the above directions.

I'll be watching both and posting notes here if you can't watch either of them.

Oh, and in case this sounds like an advertisement for CSTV, it's not. As a matter of fact, I recommend unclicking all the e-mail options when you register.

LATE UPDATE: Both videos are also available at kcci.com. Thanks to The Wizard of Odds.

More as yet unsubstantiated rumors from the internets and ebays

"Van Coleman said he talked to Pearl, last summer, and Pearl told him Iowa would be the only job he would leave Tenn for."

Seen here.

All unsubstantiated rumors, yes, but...

Word on the street is that Bruce Pearl is interested in coming back to Iowa City.

Fan reaction to that rumor is hilariously split. Some are welcoming Pearl back with open arms and advising Iowa spend $5 million a year on him (yeah, that'll happen). Others are pointing to the similarities between last night's OSU-Tennessee game and the Iowa-UNLV loss in '87 and drawing parallels between Pearl and Dr. Tom. Those people are about the same ones who try to spell "terrible" and end up having as many A's as R's in it.

Barta ought to at least give Pearl a call. If there's no interest or he starts asking for $3 milly-plus or something else unreasonable, then the negotiations end there. He's got a great setup in Knoxville as it is. And if there's any truth to the rumor that Pearl's interested in the Michigan job, I will throw up, eat the throw-up, then throw it up again. Michigan basketball is still hugely popular, and their budget is gigantic. Pearl could very well lead a return to dominance up in Ann Arbor, and even imagining it is making me queasy.

Iowa needs to make a quick move at Pearl and--at the very least--get a good gauge on his interest. That's probably already there. Therefore, it's logical to deduce that it's just a matter of money to get him into Iowa City. Iowa pays coaches extremely well. We can pay out the ass for whoever's going to replace Alford.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Not to do Barta's job for him, but...

I think he owes Mike Dunlap a serious look. Oh, and I strongly recommend you read the article itself: I can't do it justice--not in 45 minutes and over a beer.

Anyway, the guy's basically the Kirk Ferentz of basketball.

  • Intense early practice schedules.
He coaches his players to get up at 4 a.m. for 6:00 a.m. practices. No shit. And here's the thing--it just might be a good idea. As he said:
"We’re not going to apologize for a big day of practice, for hard work. I think the kids actually enjoy it ... It gets the hard work out of the way, so they can concentrate on academics the rest of the day."
  • Emphasis on academics.
He teaches the kids to be good students and follows their progress fanatically. Missing class or not keeping up their notebooks results in a two-mile run with a medicine ball. The cool part is, he runs the first mile with them while carrying the medicine ball; the second mile, the medicine ball is theirs.
  • Prefers the college game to the pros.
Dunlap coached under George Raveling (who, as irony dictates, could not coach his way out of a wet paper sack). Raveling had this to say about Dunlap:
"Mike could coach in the ACC, Big 10 or PAC-10 right now," added Raveling. "It’s just a matter of time before an A.D. snatches him up."
Hahahahaha... snatch. Anyway, other coaches have also remarked on Dunlap's insatiable passion for the game.
"I certainly respect how he always has the kids’ best interests at heart, but all he ever wants to do is talk basketball," said Chaney about Dunlap. "I got to eat some time, but all he does is talk basketball."
John Chaney, of Temple (and insane meltdown) fame said that, ostensibly in jest, about Dunlap. But why don't we see what Dunlap himself has to say about his pedigree and commitment to basketball?
"I’ve definitely been blessed with older coaches that have been able to tell me what to do and when I was making a mistake or just when I needed to pull my head out," said the 46-year-old Dunlap, who just finished his seventh year at Metropolitan State. "I’ve been drinking from John Wooden’s cup; I’ve worked at Pete Newell’s Big Man Camp for 10 years. I try to pay attention to guys that care, like John Chaney, Eddie Sutton."
It's not as if Dunlap's got no business coaching at the D-I level. He clearly does, and he's got a great coach's mindset. I don't know anything about his family life, but I sincerely doubt anybody would want to marry such a crazed basketball addict. Wait, check that, very first paragraph, very first sentence of the article: Mike Dunlap called his wife and kids. Okay. Never mind.

Bottom line is: the guy has a slight air of insanity to him, but it's the good kind of insanity (see: Bob Knight), not the bad kind (see: Mike Tyson). He'd be a big addition to the Iowa basketball program. I know I was calling for a huge name a couple hours ago, but if he ends up looking like the best candidate after the interviews, freaking hire him. He's a goddamned gladiator.

Gary Barta has no use for your goddamned questions

As the move to New Mexico looms, reporters have hounded Gary Barta for further details. Gary Barta doesn't give a fuck.

Shortly after, Barta entered the office and — after a 32-minute meeting with Alford — told waiting media that a press conference will be held tomorrow afternoon in Iowa City.

When asked to elaborate on the meeting with Alford, Barta said: “I have no additional comment.”
No additional comment? Not "hell yeah he's leaving, what the hell did you expect?" Nothing? C'mon. This Alford secret's about as well-kept as McDonald's Big Mac sauce (Thousand Island) or what really causes hurricanes to hit the U.S. (magnetic attraction to Southern Baptists).

I do kind of like that Barta's a dick to the media, though. It's not as if sportswriters serve any real purpose here in Iowa. I'm glad Barta's showing who runs shit around here.

Thank you Steve!

I would like to openly thank Steve Alford for his services here at the University of Iowa. Steve, as you probably know is leaving Iowa City for sunny Albuquerque not for the golf, but because it's a basketball school and not a football school, like Iowa (eleventh paragraph).

The thing is, when Steve Alford came to Iowa (ugh... 7 years ago), Iowa was a basketball school. The football team won 4 games over the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The basketball team was a combined 37-28 over those same academic seasons, and they had quality players in Luke Recker, Reggie Evans, and Dean Oliver (specifically in the 2000-2001 season). They made it to the NCAA Tournament and got the only win during Alford's tenure. The prospects for the hoops team were very bright. Dean-O left but Iowa still had their stars. Unfortunately, they proceeded to throw the next season, then flew to sunny Mexico after a first round home loss in the NIT to LSU.

That season was the turning point. The football team stepped it up late in 2001 and continued to grow (unlike Alford's boys) in the coming seasons. 2001 saw a trip to the Alamo Bowl, followed by one of the greatest seasons in Iowa history which led them to the Orange Bowl. The proverbial tables were reversed. When Iowa had a chance to be one of the best schools in the two major sports, one team stepped up and one (Alford's) team wilted.

The reason Alford is leaving is his own doing. The University of Iowa was a basketball school, but Steve played a big role in making it a football school. His quality teams decided to make spring break plans that didn't involve a 64-team tournament, he vouched for felons, he sold out his student section, he crapped on some of his better players (most notably Jared Reiner) and he drove his recruits to transfer (Marcellus Sommerville, Nick DeWitz, Carlton Reed, just to name a few) and now he's leaving because Iowa is a "football school. " Thank you Steve. Instead of Iowa being a formidable power in both major sports (like Florida, Ohio State, Wisconsin, LSU, or Texas), you made Iowa a "football school."

Minnesota just made the first big move of the off-season

So Minnesota just put their names on the front page of ESPN.com with a gigantic hire of Tubby Smith. It's huge in terms of name recognition, and it's huge in terms of money--he's reportedly getting about $1.8 milly a year.

It'll be interesting to see who makes a move next in the Big Ten. Will Michigan or Iowa land a coach first? Will Ed DeChellis get the axe at PSU--and would anybody notice?

Minnesota making this move first sets the tone for publicity and expected pay in the Big Ten this year. If Iowa counters by hiring some no-name coach from a nearby high school, Barta's going to get murdered in the papers and on the internets. It's not necessarily fair, but for all the "on-the-job training" Iowa had to endure with Alford, choosing a guy with even less experience at the college level to take over would be asinine.

No, Iowa needs a big name here. They need to "out-name" Alford. Barta looks awfully good already for saving the buyout money and pushing Steve out to the wastelands of New Mexico; now's the time that he uses that money and announces, "Oh, we lost Steve Alford? The Steve Alford? That's an awful shame. Oh, by the way, we're paying twice his annual salary to Bruce Pearl now. See you in the Elite 8."

There are some very good candidates out there. Kevin Stallings was a good choice before he went to Vandy. He's bumping up against the ceiling of success there already; now would be a good time to bring him into a program with a bigger budget and arena. Mike Montgomery might like to rekindle some of that Stanford magic. I already mentioned Pearl, and why not swing for the fences and throw a ton of money at John Calipari? What's he going to do, say no--which is where Iowa would be if they never offered him in the first place.

Fuck it, Barta. Aim high. You've got the money to do it. Find anyone who's coaching right now (short of Boeheim, Self, Roy Williams, or Coach K--I think they're set) and offer an insane amount of money. Put Iowa back on the map immediately. Do it.

Andy Katz runs this shit

Updated news from Andy Katz and ESPN--the deal is done, and Alford and Neal are going to New Mexico. The press conference, as predicted before, will be Friday.

It's not a big surprise anymore, granted, but it's still pretty interesting. Alford bailed out as soon as the AD started talking tough, and he's even taking a cut in pay and prestige to avoid being fired. The "basketball school" nonsense is just that; he'll regret that as soon as he sees UNM's budget hampered without a cash cow like Iowa football on it.

Now it's time to figure out who's coaching here. Buddy Light and I will be having intense team-building exercises* over the next few days as we try to decide who the candidates will be for the job. We haven't ruled out Coach K, P-Diddy, or Erin Andrews at this point.

*case races of the beer he named himself after

Are you there, God? It's me, Steve.

Dear God,

This is Steve. Steve Alford. I know it's been a few hours since I last talked to you, but I wanted to ask you for a few more favors.

First, let everybody in the state of Iowa understand why I'm leaving them. There will probably be a few confused and hurt people, especially near the team. Please show them that I'm at a school that, if you ask me, barely knows basketball exists, and I can't deal with fielding a team that can never bring in more than a fifth as many fans as the football team does. That's not the type of environment that I thrive in, and I'll do anything to make sure I'm the big news. Right now, Iowa fans care far less about basketball than I do, and I can't stand that.

Second, please let Pierre Pierce know I've forgiven him. It was hard, but we're both better off, I think. Pierre is out of jail now (thanks, by the way!), and he's trying to get his act together. I sure hope he does. He betrayed my trust back in '04, and I had a hard time getting over it. It hurt to get screwed over like that. Yessir, I can't think of anyone else who's gone through more pain after getting screwed by Pierre Pierce without giving him permission.

Also, I want you to watch over Tyler Smith. He's all Iowa's got next year--what with me leaving and all--and he needs all the support he can get. He's incredibly talented, but he still plays young. He's got a child to raise, too, and I don't envy the position he's in. I know every day I've spent away from my kids hurts, and I was at least lucky enough to have a lot of money before they were born. Tyler doesn't have that luxury, and I hope you bless him with the grace to manage his priorities to the best of his ability.

Speaking of the kids that are still at Iowa, I pray that you give Seth Gorney the strength and ability to play basketball well. I know it's probably an affront to you that he's begun taking up yoga and everything, but he's not a bad guy, and I bet he'd still like to hear from you and bask in your wisdom when it comes to playing the post. I don't know what that foreign garbage is that's tattooed on his arms, but he'll come back to the flock if you try harder with him.

I know I mentioned them earlier, but please bless my family. They mean very much to me--I even still let my wife and daughter sit next to the court where the cameras can see them. I know my daughter looks ridiculous and Tanya isn't much to look at, but they're my family, and most of the time it feels like they're all I've got.

College sports are cruel and fickle, and in basketball, one good player can be the difference between a coach like me keeping his job and getting fired. I owe you a whole lot that I haven't been fired yet, God, and I'm so glad you're giving me this way out of Iowa City with my dignity intact. I just hope people can see that I'm not a bad guy and I always wanted to win every game. I just need to be somewhere else now.

Oh, almost forgot--thanks again for the hair! TTYL!

"No comment" tells us plenty, thanks

Local columnist Susan Harman has today's Alford update for the Press-Citizen. It still looks awfully likely that he's gone, but now might be a good time to make sure you know what cabinets the Xanax and Black Velvet are in.

That's because for all the certainty of Andy Katz and his unnamed "multiple sources," there's still an awful lot of people who don't know anything about him leaving--like, say, the starting point guard:

News about New Mexico's official interest in Alford filtered through Iowa's locker room Wednesday.

"We've heard about it, but we haven't talked to coach Alford, so I really can't comment on anything," Freeman said.

When asked if he expected Alford to coach at Iowa next season, Freeman said: "Definitely - at least I hope so."
Steve. How are you gonna do Tony like that?? All the kid wants is a little honesty. Well, also about fifteen more shots a game, but I don't think Alford can give him that.

Even the incoming recruits don't have a clue what all the talk is about. We've already heard from that kid out in Maryland telling us Alford signed a 5-year deal, and now incoming forward Jarryd Cole is the latest victim of the system:
Jarryd Cole, who signed a letter of intent with Iowa last fall, said he hadn't talked to any of the Iowa coaches about the situation.

"I guess confusing is the best way to put it," Cole said. "I've just got to stay positive, keep my head up and hope it isn't true."

Cole said he wasn't sure what he would do if Alford leaves Iowa. He is bound by the letter of intent but some schools grant waivers when coaches leave before the student-athlete matriculates.
Look what you're doing to the kids, Steve. Think of the children. You know who didn't just up and leave when things got tough? Yup... Jesus. It's time to live up to the bracelet, even if that means Craig Neal's going to betray you for 30 silver pieces and the Cyclones crucify you. It's WWJD, not WWATPD (What Would A Total Pussy Do).

Steve can put a quick end to a lot of speculation by simply stating that he's the head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes and he intends to stay here. Never one to consider Iowa fans stupid, though, he leaves the work for us to read between the lines:
Alford, who flew out of the Cedar Rapids airport Tuesday but was expected to return to his office today, declined comment through the Iowa sports information office.
Well, that's probably all we need to know, isn't it?

Isn't it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Note to Barta: Bring in an Asshole, Please!

In the past season's media guide the section on Steve Alford was 13 pages long. Read that again, 13 pages!! Included in the Alford section were the scores from every game that he has ever coached at the Division I level. Sadly, we were denied the pleasure of seeing his Manchester victories individually.

But since we may be looking for a replacement, I want somebody who's more selfish. Someone who will take up more of the media guide than a measly 13 pages. But who would that be?

Steve Lavin: The former UCLA head coach (1996-2003) has a career record of 145-78. The Gene Keady disciple had 6 20-win seasons in his tenure including 5 Sweet 16 appearances (not bad). And let it be mentioned that he is already a Hair Gel Hall-of-Famer. Also helping his cause is that he's losing his marbles. Can't you see Tony Freeman blowing by somebody (ok, maybe you can't) and hearing Lavin yell "Beep Beep!" from the sidelines. I can hardly contain my excitement. But a big drawback is that he coached at a place called Ucla. I've never heard of Ucla. Why did he coach there? Why didn't he coach at a place I've heard of, like Pepperdine? I've heard of Pepperdine.



Mike Krzywslkjdfoaidjfoiejaski: The current Duke coach has a career record of 771-256. Coach Unpronounceable has won 3 national titles and been named National Coach of the Year 8 times in his 27 seasons as Duke head coach. His wins alone should take up more than 13 pages of the Iowa media guide. But I don't want to have to spell Krzywslkjdfoaidjfoiejaski for however long he would coach the Hawkeyes. What a pain in the ass that would be, and if he gets hired the Hair Gel will have to buy out my five-year deal that I just signed because I won't spell his name over and over.

Jim Boeheim: The current Syracuse head coach is too good. I like him too much. He will never ever come to Iowa, not even for a road game. Damn!

Larry Eustachy: The former Iowa State and current Southern Mississippi coach would be an excellent fit... 3 years ago. He has a career record of 298-193 which has included stops at Utah State and Idaho, in addition to ISU and USM. But he's too far off-the-wagon for me. I like my coaches drunk, really drunk. I liked the way he ran ISU, lot's of thugs and idiots, that makes life exciting. On the down side he had some fun players and I drink better beer than he does. Natty Light, come on... that's simply pathetic.



Skip Kenney: The current Stanford Men's swimming and diving coach who's story was reported here last week, is one of my favorite people EVER. He's already sponsored by Nike, and he's led his teams to 26 consecutive conference titles before. He's a former Olympic head coach (like Coach Unpronounceable) and a total bad ass! He will have no problem taking up more than 13 pages in the next media guide--he'll even remove some players and records if he has to. Not to mention he actually might be able to keep the Hawks afloat in the Big Ten race. (Thank you... thank you.) [BOOOOOOO! HISSSSSS! - Ed.]

And finally...

Steve Spurrier: The former Heisman Trophy winner and current South Carolina football coach may be well worth the investment. The "Ol' Ball Coach" is definitely full of himself. He wears a visor and is never shy about how awesome he is. He'd be expensive and he'd probably ask for more free stuff in Iowa City than the new New Mexico basketball coach, but his 157-50-2 record as a college coach is acceptable. He's won conference coach of the year 8 times and won his conference title 7 times. He won a national title in 1996-1997 with Danny Wuerffel "running the point" which is like winning 3 national championships at once. Why not?

MSNBC basically rips off Andy Katz, reports Alford is out

The article itself adds absolutely no new information--it looks like MSNBC took Katz's article, snipped a few sentences, and called it their own. I'm mentioning it for two reasons: A) It's another major news service reporting that Alford is on his way out, and B) the picture of Alford pinching off a grumpy onto the United Center sideline. Oh hell, I'll post it here.

HNNNNRRRRRGGGGGH

The Worldwide Leader says Alford is leaving

The hits just keep pouring in, folks. Now Andy Katz (oh yeah, him) is citing multiple sources to report that UNM is thiiiiiis close to hiring Alford, and now they're just working on details.

The article included a couple interesting points that I hadn't heard before:

The connection to Alford started in largely part because the new UNM president, David Schmidly, was formerly at Texas Tech, home of Alford's former coach Bob Knight.
I don't know what's funnier: the fact that Alford is STILL riding Knight's coattails, or the president's name (that's him to the right). Schmidly. He sounds like an unpopular science teacher in some Disney Channel sitcom. "Oh no, here comes Mr. Schmidly!"
Sources close to Alford said he was looking for a new challenge after going through some tense seasons in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes haven't been devoid of issues off the court, notably with Pierre Pierce's legal troubles during Alford's tenure.
"Legal troubles" is a nice euphemism. It's certainly more polite, if less accurate, than calling them "raping troubles."

All in all, even if Alford's deal falls through, it seems pretty safe to assume that Barta's rolling up and putting away the welcome mat in Iowa City as we speak. I hope he's already thumbing through the Rolodex to find a new coach. I hear John Wooden's available.

P.S. I am sorely tempted to make a Schmidly avalanche. But the better part of me is keeping the avalanche where it belongs: in Pat Harty's house.

It is damned near official: Alford is history.

According to WHO, KXIC, and various Hawkeye sites on the internets, Alford is going to New Mexico. The announcement will be at the end of the week.

I'll miss you, Alford. I seriously will.

By the way, here's the best link I could find for now. I have a feeling tomorrow will bear us a plethora of good sites to link to.

Greg Oden's AAU coach needs a new neighbor

There's a post on the New Mexico boards that I don't feel like searching for, but reads as such:

Lobo fans, greetings from Indiana. I am a long time lobo fan and former member of this board under another handle (lobopig). Here in Indianapolis, I have a friend and neighbor who is a Coach of one of the powerhouse AAU teams in the area. Greg Oden, Mike Connely, Jr. are some of his recent players. At any rate this guy has contact with D1 coaches everyday and this morning he sent me an e-mail stating that Steve Alford was going to be the next New Mexico coach. This guy is extremely reliable and was instrumental in the recruitment of Eric Gordon to Indiana after a verbal to Illinois. The press conference is going to be Friday. This will cause particular waves here because Alford wasn't offered the IU job despite the wish of many IU fans here in Indiana.
A quick little google work says Greg Oden's AAU coach was... Mike Conley Sr.! Well, well, well. In case you hadn't been paying close attention to the Buckeyes (understandable), Conley the Elder has begun being involved in sports representation, anticipating his son's and Oden's big payoff. It seems only academic to deduce that he's got plenty of contacts within coaching circles at this point; it's not a statement he'd make if he was just guessing.

So the father of an OSU basketball player and one with huge ties to the coaching circles says Alford is gone by the end of the week. I'm overjoyed, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go streaking on the Pentacrest. Happy days may well be here again, Hawk fans.

OH HOLY SHIT YES

If you're rooting for Alford to get the hell out of Iowa City, well, today is a red-letter day.

“University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs has asked permission to contact coach Steve Alford in regard to the head coaching position at New Mexico,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement today. “I have granted that permission to New Mexico officials.
In case you were wondering, that makes two coaches that UNM has asked to contact--Alford and Winthrop's Gregg Marshall. Marshall has been long linked to the South Carolina job, so there are probably some teeth to the rumor that Alford's been yapping that the Lobos job is "his if he wants it."

It feels kind of strange to think that the Alford era is so quickly approaching closure at the UI. We never had the "oh, he's got to go" year that typically precedes a firing, and it's not as if he had the huge year that normally facilitates a step up to another school (or the NBA). He's just ducking out to some second-tier conference in order to avoid an inevitable termination.

So we've spent the last eight seasons waiting for the Hair Gel to live up to his self-made hype (which he accomplished about 10% of the time), knowing full well that he had no intentions of staying in Iowa City for the next 20 years. Now, just like that, he's got one foot out the door to Albuquerque. Sheesh. Even his departure doesn't have a money shot.

Keep your eyes on this one, folks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What's with all the running? I think you're really just trying to run from the past.

Now the latest rumor in Albuquerque and the internets says Alford might want to be a Runnin' Ute, not a Runnin' Rebel, next season. Unfortunately, the Albuquerque Journal's site is registration-only, and I couldn't find confirmation of that article online when I did register. So don't.

In fact, here's all that was quoted from the article:

WE HAVE CONTACT: Winthrop sports information director Jack Frost told the Journal that athletic director Tom Hickman has given UNM AD Paul Krebs permission to interview Gregg Marshall for the Lobos' coaching vacancy.
Frost refused to relay a message to Marshall for an interview request.
IF YOU'VE GOT THE MONEY HONEY: Apparently Iowa's Steve Alford's got the time. The latest word in coaching circles is that Alford is telling folks the UNM job is his if he wants it and he is negotiating with Eastman & Beaudine about possibly leaving Iowa.
... Meanwhile, a source in Iowa says that Alford is also campaigning for the vacancy at Utah.
Wait, what the hell is Alford thinking? First, the job isn't his until they hire him; in fact, the longer it takes them to pull the trigger, the less likely it's going to be Alford they take. It's not as if anything he's done in the last ten years stands up to any sort of scrutiny whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I think Jesus specifically warns against counting your chickens before they hatch. Or maybe that was Mother Goose. I don't know, I'm not a religionologist.

Second, if he's already got the UNM job, why is he trying to get in with Utah? Andrew Bogut's not walking through that door! Andre Miller's not walking through that door! Keith Van Horn's not walking through that door! Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala--sorry, wrong sport. OK, let's start again with KVH... Keith Van Horn's not walking through that door! Michael Doleac's not walking through that door! Rick Majerus can't walk through that door!

Either way, I'm ambivalent about seeing Steve looking around so much for new digs. On one hand, the dark ages of Hawkeye basketball would draw to a close. That's a positive. But if things start going well again, well... what the hell would there be for me to write about?

A little love here, Gary Barta?

Weird news out of the UI yesterday... FireKirkFerentz.com, FireLisaBluder.com, and FireGaryBarta.com are no longer available for purchase. As a matter of fact, if you click on the sites, you'll be taken to an interesting destination. Go on, try it.

Yep--the athletic department bought the domains themselves. Interesting move, Barta. On one hand, it's a pre-emptive strike that may be tactically brilliant over the next few years. On the other hand, you're a (very) public university, and word got out awfully quickly about the purchase. Any other shaky votes of confidence you want to give your boys? Why don't you renew Kirk Ferentz's parking spot at the practice facility through, say, mid-October? That'd be about as supportive.

(Also, readers, if you think I'm not bitter that I didn't even get a warning--much less a cease and desist letter--from the athletic department, you're crazy.)

It occurred to me today that it's easily possible that Gary Barta hasn't seen this page yet. Gary. I know you google yourself (I mean search for yourself on google.com; that's not a euphemism for bedroom behavior) on a regular basis. Everyone does! And there I am, on the very first page of results! Just give it a click, you'll enjoy yourself (once again, not a euphemism, I'm just talking computers). Hell, I'll even give you your very own post to say whatever you want. Win-win. What do you say, Barta? Come on by.

[EDIT: The inimitable Wizard of Odds broke this story.]