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.
Monday, March 26, 2007