Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jamie Pollard and I Agree -- UNI's Greg McDermott Should [And Will] Be Iowa State's Next Coach. And, By the Way, Sorry About That, Iowa

I'm putting my money -- well, all 2 cents of it -- on Greg McDermott being a success as Iowa State's next basketball coach.

The more I thought about it, he became my choice to be the successor to the fired Wayne Morgan.

Know what? Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter and Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard agreed with me.

McDermott was the last man standing.

He's getting the job today.

It could be that Iowa State was scared off by the $900,000 buyout in Jeter's Wisconsin-Milwaukee contract.

They teach you in your freshman year of Athletic Director School that, when two coaching candidates appear equal in ability, take the guy who has the cheapest buyout.

In this case, it would be McDermott, whose buyout at Northern Iowa is a bare-bones $25,000.

Pollard probably got an "A" in that freshman class at Athletic Director School.

Then again, it could be that McDermott had a great interview with Pollard.

Whatever, Jeter told the newspaper in Milwaukee today that he's no longer a candidate at Ames.

After surveying the situation, he pulled the old "I didn't call them. They came after me, and I'm flattered. But I'm staying right where I'm at" routine.

That left only McDermott, who has been a hot coaching property around the nation.

By hiring McDermott, Iowa State accomplished another significant thing.

He won't be available to go to Iowa when, as expected, Indiana hires present Hawkeye coach Steve Alford for its coaching job.

I know Jeter [left] had been a favorite of Pollard for quite a while.

But McDermott, 41, has been a big winner at Northern Iowa, knows what it's like to coach at Hilton Coliseum in Ames and obviously is familiar with the state of Iowa.

Whether he can recruit at the national level to be able to compete for Big 12 Conference championships remains to be seen.

But I'm convinced the guy can coach after taking UNI to the NCAA tournament again this season.

That's more than I can say about Wayne Morgan, the guy he'd be replacing.

McDermott [right] has a 90-63 record at UNI and has taken three of his teams to the NCAA tournament.

His 2005-2006 squad faded down the stretch and lost in the first round of the tournament to Georgetown.

But a lot of teams around the nation fade down the stretch. Some -- like Iowa State -- don't even make the NCAA tournament. Or even the NIT.

And a lot of teams lost to Georgetown this season. One of them was Big Ten power Ohio State, which bowed out of the NCAA tournament after losing to Georgetown in the second round.

Morgan was fired last week after three years as Iowa State's coach.

Jeter, 36, the son of former University of Iowa football standout Bob Jeter and a man who took Wisconsin-Milwaukee to the NCAA tournament in his first season there, was interviewed for the Iowa State job yesterday and was waiting to hear back from athletic director Jamie Pollard.

"Obviously, they knew who they wanted to speak to," Jeter told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in reference to himself and McDermott. "I'm not in the business of hiring coaches, but they did it quickly."

The Journal Sentinel said Jeter and McDermott are "two highly-placed candidates" for the Iowa State job.

However, it appears Jeter has been reading the stuff I've been writing about McDermott -- or someone has been telling him about it. He told the Journal Sentinel today that he's staying at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

It could very well be that Jeter was allowed to get out of the running for the Iowa State job after being told by Pollard that he was zeroing in on McDermott.

Jeter's Panthers had a 22-9 record, won the Horizon League regular-season and post-season tournament titles and has known Pollard a long time.

Pollard administered the Wisconsin basketball program when Jeter was an assistant coach there. Pollard was a deputy athletic director at Wisconsin.

I'm sure Jeter will become an outstanding collegiate coach, but the guy has been in a major-college job only one season and knows little about our state.

That's why I'm hanging my hat on McDermott.

McDermott, whose Northern Iowa teams played Iowa State once every season, and Morgan were not the best of buddies.

The two of them had a shouting match that was laced with four-letter words late in a UNI victory over Iowa State two seasons ago.

Although they seemed to get along better during the game UNI played at Ames in the 2005-2006 season, I doubt they went to lunch together earlier in the day.

Now, ironically, McDermott will be moving into the coaching office that Morgan just left.