Iowa State University’s decision to hire a former star player with absolutely no coaching experience might seem like a reach to outside observers. But upon further review, the appointment of Fred Hoiberg as Men’s Basketball coach could prove to be the saving grace for a program that has been near the doormat of the Big 12 for the last several years.
Hoiberg’s relationship with Ames and the Iowa State community will be his greatest asset. He starred in both football and basketball at Ames High before beginning his playing days with the Cyclones. Hoiberg built his legend from the moment he stepped on the court in Hilton Coliseum. He spent four glorious years with the Cyclones and received a write-in vote in an Ames mayoral election, earning him the nickname “The Mayor.”
After a ten-year pro career and a four-year stint in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, the Mayor is coming home–to a rundown shanty with no furnishings.
Ever since Larry Eustachy got caught partying with coeds, ISU’s program has been decimated by player defections. It began in the Wayne Morgan era, when mysterious tactics lured talented ballers like Mike Taylor and Tasheed Carr to Ames. They didn’t last long.
Greg McDermott was hired to restore stability within the program. He did anything but, watching numerous role players transfer, along with the mega-talented Wes (formerly Wesley) Johnson.
McDermott is gone, along with NBA prospects Craig Brackins and Marcus Gilstrap. Center Justin Hamilton announced he was transfer to a school closer to his native Utah, then promptly enrolled at LSU.
Hoiberg received a five-year contract and presumably is on a long, long leash. Without any tangible coaching experience, he will have to learn on the job. That shouldn’t be a problem.
The most important part of college basketball is recruiting. Hoiberg is well-respected in the basketball community and should have plenty of connections. He has the experience to identify talent. Assuming he has a personality, he should be able to convince a fair amount of decent players to come to Ames.
Iowa State A.D. Jamie Pollard deserves credit for going out on a limb. Iowa State needed to make a move to return to basketball relevance.
It won’t be long before the magic returns to Hilton.