Monday, March 26, 2007

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.

No comments: