Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Think It's Nice That the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves Gave The Mayor An Office Job, But It's Time for Him To Be Back In Iowa Where He Belongs

Now my big question is this:

How soon does Fred Hoiberg sell his house, pack his bags, call the moving van and get back to Iowa?

That's what The Mayor is supposed to do, you know.

The officeholder from Ames...the guy who played his guts out 100 miles-a-minute...the kid you wanted shooting a one-and-one at the free throw line when the Cyclones were behind 75-74 with 2 seconds to play...his job is back in an arena near you in our state.

I think it's a neat thing Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor did -- giving Hoiberg a job in the team's front office after the soon-to-be 34-year-old Iowan decided it was too dangerous to continue his playing career because of heart problems.

But let's get back to reality.

Consider me old-fashioned, but I think Iowa is where Hoiberg belongs -- not Minnesota, a place we make jokes about.

Give Hoiberg a year. Maybe two. Then somebody in this state should offer him a job --preferably a job in basketball, certainly a job in athletics.

When Bruce Whatever-His-Name-Was had the door shown to him at Iowa State a while back, I suggested that Hoiberg was the guy who should be the university's next athletic director.

He was, after all, Mr. Clean-Cut and a guy everyone at Iowa State adored. He could back-slap with the best of them while hobnobbing with the alumni on the mornings of big football games at Jack Trice Stadium, and he'd bring a new look to Cyclone athletic department. He'd sell tickets.

Not just to basketball games. To everything.

Sure, he'd get the grads to put their dollars in the university's cash register, too.

But The Mayor wasn't ready for that yet.

He still had the NBA on his mind. He talked to a few teams, but got nowhere.

Hey, there's no pro basketball team in America that wants to risk putting a guy on the court who's had his chest opened up to fix an aortic aneurysm. No owner wants to be the pioneer who puts the first guy wearing a pacemaker into the lineup during an NBA game.

Some of them may have heard how Hoiberg tells the story about his first day home from the surgery.

The Mayor, the father of four young kids, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he climbed a few stars, fainted and fell. He was unconscious for 2 minutes, and when he woke up he was in the arms of his wife, Carol.

"Don't leave me," Carol said.

"I remember the look on her face when I came to," Hoiberg said. "I just can't imagine what that must have been like for her.....I just can't put her through that again."

[Hoiberg is pictured at the top. Fred and Carol's wedding photo is below it].

Hoiberg's problems actually started when he was at Iowa State.

In his sophomore year, he learned he had a problem with his aortic valve, but it wasn't considered life-threatening then. He was monitored by Iowa State with echocardiograms.

He averaged 11.6 points in that 1992-93 season, which saw Johnny Orr's Cyclones go 20-11 and lose to UCLA 81-70 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Hoiberg scored at a 20.2 clip in 1993-94, which turned out to be Orr's last. Iowa State had a disappointing 14-13 record and didn't even get picked for the NIT. It didn't help matters that the truck center Loren Meyer was riding in was hit by a train in Des Moines at about 3 o'clock one morning.

I don't think anybody has figured that one out yet. But maybe it convinced Orr it was time to get out of coaching.

Then in came Tim Floyd to coach Hoiberg's final season. The Mayor was the Cyclones' captain, and the team went 23-11, beat Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament and lost to North Carolina 73-51 in the second round.

Included in that season was a phenomenal performance Hoiberg turned in at Hilton Coliseum when No. 3-ranked Kansas came to town.

Hoiberg scored 32 points that included an unbelievable 17 straight in the last half in a 69-65 Iowa State victory. Less than a month later he soared to a 41-point performance against Colorado.

With that kind of stuff as a backdrop, it would be only natural for Hoiberg to come back to Ames or some other place in Iowa to provide athletic leadership.

He's an Iowan, and our state needs him.

Heck, if Iowa State can't find a place for him, maybe Iowa can.

An assistant basketball coach waiting in the wings to be a head coach. An assistant athletic director who later gets elevated to the top job.

Now, wouldn't that be something? Maybe it could be the Dan Gable scenario all over again, where a Cyclone legend makes it big as a Hawkeye.

Nah. Couldn't happen.

Iowa State won't fall for that crap again.

Oh, well, just get back to Iowa, Fred.

Maybe you can move to Ames and become the real mayor. You'd win in a landslide.