Thursday, March 16, 2006

'Wayne Morgan Is Toast' As Iowa State's Coach -- 'You Don't Contract To Schedule Games And Get Players In Return'

Those who know Wayne Morgan and his bosses at Ames are saying that the Iowa State basketball coach doesn't need to shop for a new lunch pail at K-Mart anytime soon.

It probably won't be necessary for him to bring a ham-and-cheese sandwich to work much longer.

The future of ol' Wayne, they maintain, is very bleak after what happened yesterday:

1. Standout guards Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock -- again proving that their university education hasn't made them clear-thinkers -- said they're taking their acts to the NBA.

2. The news surfaced that Iowa State's coaching staff had a tie-in with a sleazebag California scheduling-and-recruiting company.

"Wayne Morgan is toast," a reader tells me in an e-mail. "Iowa State is in a lot of trouble over this.

"You don't contract to schedule games and get players in return. [Athletic director] Jamie Pollard will blow out Morgan in a matter of weeks. That's my feeling....."

Another reader says in an e-mail, "Jamie Pollard [right] might not put up with too much shit from Morgan [left].

"At Wisconsin [where Pollard was deputy athletic director before coming to Iowa State last September], he rolled some heads of folks who were under him.

"If those two players [Stinson and Blalock] leave, the prediction of some people might come true -- Iowa State have to eventually fire Morgan."

* * *

Still on the subject of the basketball mess that Iowa State is in, a man who goes by the handle "Midwest Fan" writes:


"In the words of the popular character Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo cartoons, all I can say is 'YIKES!'

"If there was a cyclone hovering around Iowa State, it isn't painted in cardinal-and-gold. First the Gregg Doyel article, which was jaw dropping and interesting, and then the press release around 5:40 p.m. that Stinson and Blalock has decided to forgo their senior season. There's trouble in River City.*

"Ron, you are being swamped with responses on the Doyel article [on], but I'll stay with Stinson and Blalock with this e-mail. What in Hades are they thinking? Is the situation over at the Jacobson Building and Hilton that bad for them to say, 'That's it, we're out?' I have a bad feeling that Morgan is either:

"A. Over his head with the personalities of his team,
"B. Letting several of the players turn the locker room into the peanut gallery, or
"C. [Fill in the blank of whatever comes to mind]

"If Stinson and Blalock believe that the team will not improve next year, with Carr leaving, and Marsden, Gray, Taggart green behind the ears, and leaving the team high and dry is their reasoning, then to me they are making a horrible mistake. They are not mature enough to handle the pressures of the NBA [and we're not talking about their playing skills]. Stinson is known in losing his temper when things are not going as planned on the floor, Blalock was so fustrated that he called out his teammates for poor play. Ironically, the both of them couldn't handle it was gut-check time."

Midwest Fan

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Stinson and Blalock are no more ready to play in the NBA than my Uncle George, who couldn't shoot beyond 2 feet, couldn't go to his left and never wanted to follow instructions. Let's hope Stinson and Blalock don't sign with agents so they can play their senior season at Iowa State -- if, of course, they'd be eligible. Naturally, there's no assurance of that].

* * *

"Midwest Fan's Twin Brother" checked in with this e-mail:


"I do believe that the NIT should send a gift basket to your family, as they took your advice and passed on Iowa State for the NIT. What should be more embarrassing for the Cyclones? Michigan, Creighton, and Missouri State received first-round byes and will host the first-round games. Yes, the Bluejays and the Bears. Secondly, Minnesota, Penn State and a soft Colorado team will be playing this week as well. Let this be a lesson to Iowa State. With the team they had this year, if Iowa State would have made an effort to play up to their talent and not down to their competitors, Iowa State would be winning the NIT, or at least get a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament.

"This week, ESPN and reporter Shelley Smith will be following Tennessee and coach Bruce Pearl. Earlier this evening, they were showing Pearl, with his wife, and player Dane Bradshaw sitting nearby. Bradshaw asked Pearl about where the teams would be going and where they could be going. Just as Pearl said that they could be going to Jacksonville or Greensboro, Tennessee's name was called up as a No. 2 seed. As the crowd erupted and wife in shock, Pearl's eyes bulged from his eyesocket in disbelief. Thankfully, he was aware that he wired with a microphone, because if anyone could read lips, I'm very sure he said, without sound, "Holy ----!'
"The discussion of Drake going to Division III was something my father and I talked about briefly last summer. He felt that Drake should be playing D-3 and join the Iowa Conference. I retorted back and said, 'Keep dreaming.' If Drake was to even join the Iowa Conference, they have players who are biggest, faster and stronger in each sport and Drake would just dominate the conference.

"This is just me talking, as a graduate of an Iowa Conference school, would it be a more feasible solution for Drake to leave the Missouri Valley and join a lesser-level conference, or drop to Division II? I bring up Division II since I think it would be a better fit for Drake. They will be able to attract students to a high-academic school, and compete with other teams, such as the MIAA or the North Central Conference [for which Morningside was a former member].

"Upper Iowa, which was best suited for the Iowa Conference, decided to move up to Division II, and William Penn moved down to NAIA after leaving the league. William Penn's decision actually may have helped them. The verdict is still out on Upper Iowa. Morningside's move to NAIA has been a savior for them. The football team qualified for the playoffs, the women's basketball team won back-to-back NAIA championships, and the men's team continue to be a threat year in and year out.

"It remains to be seen whether Drake will continue competing on the Division I level in basketball and I-AA in football. It will either depend on who the new athletic director is, or if Drake will seriously consider their options. The thought of Army, Navy, and Drake competing with Wartburg, Central, Mt. Union, and Pacific Lutheran sounds like three bullies walking into town.

"I would imagine that you decided to pass on watching the useless pandering of Billy Packer and Dick Vitale, and Digger Phelps on Sunday. For the first time in my life, I didn't sit in front of the television to watch the selection show. I went to grocery store. Best 90 minutes I spent this weekend!

"Take Care!"

Midwest Fan's Twin Brother

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: The decline of Drake basketball continues to be one of the saddest stories around. It's hard to believe a university that sent a team to the Final Four in 1969 can't field a competitive squad in the Missouri Valley Conference now -- even with the man [Tom Davis] who was the winningest coach in University of Iowa history calling the shots. I'd like to say that the future is bright for Drake basketball, but that's certainly not the case. A drop to Division II or III would be difficult for Bulldog fans to accept, but 19 straight non-winning seasons aren't easy to accept, either].

* * *

"Sadie from Schleswig" -- not her real name, not her real hometown -- brings up a familiar name for a basketball coaching job that likely will soon be open:


"What a great win for the Hawks [in the Big Ten conference tournament over Ohio State]. They played with a lot of heart, guts and determination. They were not going to be denied....I feel good for Horner and Brunner that they can end their regular season with such an awesome victory. I know the talk about Alford leaving will intensify. I have a perfect solution. Hire Tim Floyd!!!! He was an excellent coach at Iowa State. He should never have left. He couldn't cut it in the NBA, but I think he was good as a college coach."

Sadie from Schleswig

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Steve Alford hasn't said he's happy at Iowa, so I assume he's getting ready to take the Indiana coaching job when the Hawkeyes' season is over. Tim Floyd [pictured at the top of this column], who was at Iowa State from 1995-1998, was the best coach the school has had for the past 30 years -- but I doubt he's going to leave Southern California after one season. Floyd, 51, had a 17-13 record in his break-in year at USC, but what happened to him at the end mirrored what took place at Iowa State. USC was snubbed by the NIT despite beating North Carolina, Arizona and UCLA during the season. Like the Cyclones, USC lost seven of its last nine games. USC will be playing in a new arena next season, so I'm assuming Floyd is looking forward to that. I predict he'll be a big winner there. Besides, I don't think there was any love lost between Floyd and University of Iowa officials when he was at Iowa State].

* * *

Iowan-turned-Californian Al Schallau sent this e-mail:

"I am a member of a very small minority group who believe that Division I basketball coaches don't have to recruit eight academic dunderheads to have a winning team. From what the national press tells us, Coach K graduates almost all his players at Duke.....

"That old line, 'We can't win in our conference because of our high academic standards' is so much bullshit. That is the readily available cop-out for losing coaches who are exactly that -- losing coaches.

"From 1970 to 2002, Drake University made some spectacularly bad hiring decisions in their choices of head basketball coaches. They they ranged from mediocre to really awful. Drake University's chronic lack of success in men's basketball since 1970 can be laid squarely at the doorstep of the athletic directors who hired Drake's head coaches.

"I will stand by my position: If Drake University hired Vance Walberg as head basketball coach, the Bulldogs would own the Missouri Valley Conference after his third year.

"There are many Division I head coaching vacancies popping up already. Keep your eye out for Vance Walberg. He will be hired by some Division I school.

"Best regards,"

Al Schallau

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I certainly agree that a school can be successful in basketball without recruiting idiots. Idiot players have a way of getting a coach into trouble in more ways than one].

* * *

Writes Barry Crist of West Des Moines:

"The happiest man in the world today is Matt Leinart as he will now not have to live in the toxic waste dump known as New Orleans. Drew Brees may have gotten a great deal from the Saints, but the QB yelling 'God Almighty, Glory Be to Jesus', was not located anywhere near a swamp.

"Will Matt Be ballroom dancing tonight?"

Barry Crist

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: With the millions Leinart, the quarterback from Southern California, is going to make in the NFL, he can dance every night of the week. Every day, too].

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[Ron Maly is a four-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year and also is the best-selling author of "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," which is in its second printing as both a hardback and softback book. The book is about the rich football tradition at the University of Iowa. Maly has a heck of a lot of fun doing what he's doing. Ron's columns about sports, newspapers, his family, medicine, travel, the people he knows, the people he doesn't know, a few people he'd like to know better, a few people he once knew and is trying to forget, a few people he has already forgotten, and anything else that trips his trigger appear regularly at and]