Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm Not Believing for One Minute That Alford Is Interested In Missouri. It's a Smoke Screen. He's Just Hurt That Indiana Seems To Be Stiffing Him

As much as I'd like to think that Steve Alford has rescued Iowa's basketball program by going into a mating dance with Missouri, I'm not buying it.

Alford has already proved plenty of times that he's not the smartest basketball coach in the universe.

Those defeats at Ames, Evanston and Minneapolis -- plus blowing a 17-point lead in a loss last week to Northwestern State in the NCAA first round -- demonstrate that.

But I doubt he's dumb enough to get involved with Missouri, whose athletic leadership ranks right up there with the most pitiful in the nation.

I mean, they're spending more time investigating athletic director Mike Alden's role in the firing of basketball coach Quin Snyder a number of weeks ago than they are in looking for a new guy.

Some boosters want Alden fired.

People down there are talking about hiring Bob Huggins to replace Snyder. Huggins? Hell, I don't think anybody in the program graduated when he was coaching at Cincinnati. That includes the ballboy and maybe even the athletic department tutors.

As many as eight of Missouri's players say they might leave because interim coach Melvin Watkins isn't going to be retained.

That's how stable the program is in Columbia.

Any talk of Missouri being interested in Alford or Alford being interested in Missouri must be a smoke screen of some kind.

The way I look at it, Alford figured he needed some attention in this state because Iowa State was getting all of it with the firing of Wayne Morgan and the hiring of Greg McDermott.

So, on the first day McDermott is wearing his red Iowa State cap, word leaks that Alford might be interested in coaching in the Big 12.

Hey, Alford hasn't ever been a Big 12 guy. It's Big Ten blood that runs through his arteries.

Surely Alford can't be naive enough to think he's going to get a raise at Iowa by taking a drive south to interview at Missouri.

Bob Bowlsby, Iowa's athletic director, gave Missouri permission to talk with Alford -- but Bowlsby is certainly no dummy.

Just because Missouri wants to imply that it's interested in hiring Alford, Bowlsby isn't going to feel threatened.

If I were Bowlsby, I'd tell Alford, "Stevie-boy, if Missouri can't afford the moving expenses from Iowa City to Columbia, we'll be glad to help you out with Mayflower."

My guess is that Alford feels hurt that Indiana isn't showing much interest in hiring him.

Alford is the golden boy of Indiana basketball, but when the athletic director at Bloomington pays more attention to the night janitor at Assembly Hall than he does to Stevie Wonder, it does raise a question or two.

Stay tuned.

It's going to get even more interesting.

Maybe the next thing we hear is that Alford wants to be the athletic director at Drake.

The job is open, you know.

* * *

My West Coast Correspondent had a great line when he heard that Missouri might want to interview Alford for its basketball job.

"If Alford goes to Missouri, Greg McDermott will have two chances a year to beat him," My West Coast Correspondent said in reference to the two games a season that Missouri and Iowa State always play.

* * *

Of Alford's possible move to Missouri, Iowa fan Al Schallau writes:

"This is looking encouraging. I am thinking that all the bars in Iowa should be getting ready to play those famous lyrics from Kool & The Gang, that go:

"Celebrate good times ---- come on."

* * *

Another man who is keeping up on the Alford-to-Missouri situation writes:

"Alford was liked in Springfield, Mo., where he coached Southwest Missouri State [now Missouri State]. They liked him taking SMS to the NCAA Sweet 16, but even then -- coaching at a mid-major school -- his ego and arrogance were off the charts.

"Aside from a close group of friends, he had no time and no interest in even being civil to just about anyone he crossed paths with.

"I was told that Sam Alford [Steve's father, who then was one of Steve's assistant coaches] even had to sit him down at one point and tell him that his ego was out of control, and he had to tone things down. It didn't appear to have worked.

"My biggest fear is that he ends up back in Iowa City next season, but I have a feeling that interviewing at Missouri would be the point of no return for him and the Hawkeyes. Then again, if running a clean program is more important than wins to those in Columbia, maybe Alford is the right man for the job."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Those who have been around Alford are well aware of his inflated view of himself. He is, after all, a legend. All you need to do is ask him].

* * *

Al Schallau, again:

"How ironic is it that Greg McDermott's first act as the Cyclones' basketball coach was to put on an Iowa State baseball cap -- when it does NOT have a baseball team. I sure hope athletic director Jamie Pollard will remedy that bit of administrative stupidity in the near-future."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: There's a move afoot to maybe bring baseball back as a sport at Iowa State, but that was probably delayed another few years because of the millions of dollars it's paying McDermott to come and Morgan to leave].