Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Fred Hoiberg is Ames, Iowa’s All-American boy, its beloved hero who’s never done wrong. He’s a former “Mr. Basketball” winner and State Champion at Ames High who decided to be loyal to his hometown and play his college ball at ISU. He’s the kind of good-looking, hard working, high character, Midwestern kid that most parents dream their boys will be one day. Everyone, it seems, loves Fred Hoiberg…until now.
Just one day after Coach Greg McDermott announced his resignation to accept the Creighton job, ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard made his move. And it’s a move that, surprisingly, is drawing the ire of many Cyclone fans. After all, this is “THE MAYOR” we’re talking about, right? The one every Cyclone fan loves? One look at the message boards on CycloneFanatic.com tells a different story. It’s a mixed reaction, seemingly split right down the middle, 50/50. Some think Pollard moved too quickly. Some are disappointed he didn’t hire former Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie, a guy with a great track record on the court, but some serious character flaws off it. Some can’t believe Iowa State would hire a guy with no coaching experience. Others are elated that one of the Cyclones’ beloved is coming home to lead the program. It’s a move that has some people saying, “Hoiberg!!!” and others saying “Hoiberg???”
I stand somewhere in the middle. When I found out yesterday that Coach McDermott was leaving, I was ecstatic. It could not have been a more perfect scenario. A good guy lands on his feet at a good place, and we get rid of a coach that was clearly not working out for our program. And it was really the only possible way a change could be made based on the financial situation at Iowa State. There was finally a reason to be excited about Iowa State basketball again. The slate was being wiped clean. The Hoiberg announcement kind of hit me out of left field. At first, I was really excited to hear that we have such a great guy coming back to Ames to lead our beloved Cyclones. He’s got a great reputation across the country and some NBA ties that should help on the recruiting trail. But at the same time, his critics are right—he doesn’t have any coaching experience at the collegiate level. Outside of being an All Big 8 player at Iowa State, he doesn’t have any collegiate experience period. So there are certainly some question marks about this hasty hire by Jamie Pollard--question marks that will be answered pretty quickly by the players he retains and recruits, and the results on the court next season.
This isn’t a slam-dunk hire by Pollard. I think it’s a decision he felt would be much more warmly received. And, I must say, I’m a little surprised myself at the reactions on the message boards to Ames’ All-American boy. All in all, if you look at the state of the basketball program today vs. one week ago, I think there is plenty of reason for Cyclone fans to be optimistic. Let’s face it; there was no hope with Coach McDermott. At least Hoiberg restores some flair and optimism for the future of Hilton Magic and ISU basketball. But starting soon, Fred Hoiberg is no longer “The Mayor.” Soon, he becomes Coach Hoiberg, Coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. And that’s a whole new ballgame.