Category archive: Iowa Hawkeyes

There's been a lot of talk lately about a new, separate division in college athletics. The big boys breaking away to govern themselves, fleeing the controversy-riddled NCAA.

The five major football conference commissioners each had a turn during their football media days last month to discuss the future of the NCAA -- and they weren't shy about the topic. The overall theme was a need for change, and everything seemed to be on the table.

So the threat of separation -- talk of which has been around for years but never really taken seriously -- is real now. At the NCAA convention in January, a revolution could be at hand -- at the very least dealing with the way the NCAA is administered.

What effect could this have on the sport of college basketball? Could the most sacred of all NCAA championships -- the men's basketball tournament -- be radically altered as a result of these changes?

Not likely, say the three commissioners who run the highest-profile hoops-driven conferences that don't sponsor Division I football (Big East, A-10 and WCC).

"My starting point is that this is not recent,'' said new Big East commissioner Val Ackerman. "These comments aren't that new. I agree we need to take a hard look at the structure and the divisions and see what the role of conferences and the NCAA headquarters should be. I think the discussion that would seem to be most appropriate is around football, whether or not there needs to be a new kind of division.

"But I think basketball is a different sport, as are the other sports, in ensuring that no matter what structure [of the NCAA] is devised, the basketball tournament should be preserved. People want the great stories -- Florida Gulf Coast, Wichita State or Butler. That's what college sports is about.''

A basketball tournament without schools in basketball-rich areas in the Big East, for example,  wouldn't make any sense, she added.

"Participation of all Division I schools in a Division I championship in basketball, field hockey or whatever is worth fighting for, regardless of football decisions,'' Ackerman said.

College football already is separated to some degree, with the conferences keeping the bowl money and controlling the sport's championship. The NCAA is only in place to administer the rules and regulations. Ackerman, a member of the Knight Commission, thinks "at the very least the NCAA should be compensated," something she would likely find strong resistance to from her conference commissioner colleagues in the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12.

"[The NCAA] doesn't get any share of football revenue," Ackerman said. "The conferences have it both ways. They want the NCAA to deal with academic eligibility and enforcement, but they don't get any revenue out of the pot.''

Ackerman does believe there needs to be a restructuring within the NCAA and is in favor of delving deeper into the stipend issue, especially in light of the ongoing O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA that deals with profiting off player images.

But Ackerman sees no scenario where the NCAA tournament would be touched by any major structural change to college sports.

Neither does West Coast Conference commissioner Jamie Zaninovich, who is currently on the men's basketball selection committee.

"There is going to be change, but it's unclear what that change looks like in the NCAA,'' Zaninovich said. "We think we all make a strong case that we bring a lot of value in men's basketball and in other sports. But at the end of the day, we're not the ones making the decision.

"But I haven't talked to anybody -- and I talk to a lot of people, but anybody with a significant voice -- that doesn't believe there should remain a consistent NCAA men's basketball championship, and all championships that we have. They are all very successful properties and are very successful for the student-athlete experience.''

The NCAA membership relies heavily on the 14-year, $11 billion men's tournament deal that was signed in 2010 with CBS/Turner.

"I'm confident that whatever happens with the NCAA, those things will remain the same,'' said Zaninovich of the championships. "The consensus is with our TV partners, city hosts and student-athletes that one of the best things we have is our championships.''

Zaninovich didn't dismiss some sort of new cut for Division I dealing with allocating resources, cost of attendance and so on. But he scoffed at any notion of changing the existing NCAA tournament model to segregate the financial haves and have-nots among the schools.

"It's obvious how important the funds of the NCAA tournament are to the NCAA budget,'' Zaninovich said. "That can't be understated. But the tournament has never been healthier. Our digital and mobil growth audience is all trending in the right direction. Florida Gulf Coast was one of the best stories ever covered. Those things are hard to replicate in other sports, especially if you only had 60-something schools with access to the event. There is no scarcity in the underdog story. That's what is compelling.''

Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade agreed that there should be change in the governance with all 32 conferences represented on the board, but she wouldn't be opposed to weighted votes based on each conference's financial influence in the NCAA. The current board has 11 permanent Football Bowl Subdivision representatives and seven rotating Football Championship Subdivision reps.

"So much of the NCAA's core fabric is the basketball championship,'' McGlade said. "A nationally relevant, basketball-centric league and the big five conferences can coexist together. We have to take the concerns of the BCS-level leagues seriously. We need to address them. We voted for the stipend. We are aligned philosophically.''

McGlade scoffed at the idea that the top three or four in the A-10 or the new Big East wouldn't be able to compete with the top of the big five football conferences. Everyone knows in basketball that is true. So a tournament with those conferences alone doesn't make sense to the commissioners, and they don't see how the public or the television partners would ever agree to such a proposal.

"The overall massive appeal is driven by the Cinderella story and with everyone having a chance to win,'' said McGlade, who also pointed out that the five football conferences don't touch much of the population-heavy Northeast (outside of Boston College and Syracuse), where the A-10 and Big East dominate. Holding a tournament without the majority of the Northeast corridor would exclude important markets.

"I'm optimistic that the big five don't want to destroy the championship,'' McGlade said. "They want to seek change, but everyone puts a tremendous amount of value on the championship."

Iowa has no more excuses. This is the season.

The expectation is to contend for a top spot in the Big Ten and, at the very least, make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

A trip next week to England and France should be the start of something big for the Hawkeyes, the beginning of a program-changing season for fourth-year coach Fran McCaffery.

"There's no question about it," McCaffery said. "A lot of people expect it of us. A lot of people will pick us to be ranked in the top 25 in the preseason. That means you're an NCAA tournament team. The challenge is, are you a top-25 team? Are you an NCAA team?

"We can talk about a lot of things, but we have to take care of them. We have to be healthy, be consistent, be a better road team, a better 3-point shooting team. All of these things that we say are going to happen, we have to make them happen."

McCaffery hasn't shied away from what must be done. A year ago, in a similar conversation, McCaffery discussed how the Hawkeyes were close in 2012 but didn't defend well enough to get into the NCAAs. Iowa reached the NIT second round. The Hawkeyes won eight Big Ten games, 18 overall.

Last season, the numbers showed two more NIT wins to the title game (before losing to Baylor), one more Big Ten win and seven overall.

There were plenty of late-possession losses, notably on the road at Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Iowa won only three road games -- at Penn State and Northwestern and then in the NIT quarterfinal at Virginia.

"We were way better, but we missed some opportunities to close games," McCaffery said. "We have to establish that we can make 3s, be more consistent offensively, get more individuals to score the ball on offense."

This isn't a team full of stars, but a crew that can produce at every position.

The roster is loaded with experience in Melsahn Basabe, Mike Gesell, Roy Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe, Aaron White, Josh Oglesby, Anthony Clemmons, Gabriel Olaseni and Adam Woodbury -- all significant contributors. Add Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff and freshman Peter Jok and the Hawkeyes can go 11 deep.

"We're a deeper team, a more experienced team, one that has now proven it can defend but now has to be more consistent making shots," McCaffery said. "I think we will."

Last season, Iowa's schedule was front-loaded in the Big Ten, playing Indiana, at Michigan and Michigan State in the first three games. The Hawkeyes lost them all, and the hole was too deep to crawl out from in the end. They also didn't get a chance to play Michigan or Ohio State at home in the unbalanced schedule.

This winter, the Hawkeyes play Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin twice. The one-play road games are at Indiana and Penn State with the two at home against Purdue and Nebraska.

There are no excuses with this schedule. The opportunities are aplenty. Taking on Xavier in the Battle 4 Atlantis and then likely Tennessee and then perhaps Kansas in the title game offer power-rating points in the Bahamas. Hosting Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and going to rival Iowa State will be two more RPI boosters.

"We were probably one more road win from getting in last year," McCaffery said. "We had four times where guys hit shots in the last 15 seconds. We have to make sure that doesn't happen."

It starts with this trip to Europe.

Gesell won't play due to a broken finger. That means everyone else has to play meaningful minutes. Olaseni is from London, so this trip is in part for him. But with a whopping six games on the schedule, it's clear McCaffery is intent on more than just sightseeing. He needs to incorporate Jok and Uthoff, and the trip will provide some answers on whether the team can really go 11 deep.

"I want to see Olaseni be more aggressive offensively. I want to see Woodbury be more aggressive offensively. I want to see Marble and White do what they're supposed to do and upgrade their game a bit," McCaffery said. "Uthoff, McCabe and Basabe should be scorers. We need those guys. Our strength lies in that very few teams will have as many good players. Some may have stars we don't have, but we have a lot of players capable of double figures."

Woodbury and Olaseni need to benefit as centers on the trip while Uthoff logging minutes after sitting out for a year is imperative, according to McCaffery.

The talk is done. The quest to complete the four-year plan of making the NCAAs and being nationally, not just regionally, relevant is now at hand. Iowa has won just one NCAA tournament game since reaching the 1999 Sweet 16.

The trip is the first step of what should be many if Iowa is truly going to be a March player once again.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Craig Neal knew the pasta Steve Alford would like for lunch at this particular Nob Hill area restaurant a mile or so from New Mexico's campus.

Alford took Neal's recommendation, and after a few bites knew it was a good call.

Throughout lunch, and on the car ride back to campus, it became obvious how much Alford and Neal are alike. Finishing each other's sentences isn't an uncommon thing.

They are all about basketball and family, with the two interwoven throughout the past five seasons -- a period in which a sense of stability has returned to New Mexico.

The Lobos have been to the NCAA tournament twice in the past three seasons, winning a game in each of those two appearances. UNM has also won or shared the Mountain West Conference title in three of Alford's five seasons and won a combined 58 games in the two NCAA seasons.

New Mexico is expected to challenge for a tourney bid again, pushing league favorites UNLV and San Diego State along with Colorado State and Nevada in a top-heavy MWC.

Part of the reason for UNM's success is Alford's ability to keep Neal. He could've easily returned to the NBA as an assistant coach by now. He's been a finalist for several college head-coaching jobs.

But Alford has made Neal one of the top-paid assistant coaches (an estimated $250,000 salary), with plenty of perks. And their friendship has made it extremely difficult to leave.

"It's easy when you get along and you're best friends," said Neal, who was with Alford for the latter part of his eight-year tenure at Iowa.

"[Also] I pay him too much," Alford interjected with a laugh. "He gets a country club membership and he's got Harleys."

"He does pay me too much and it makes it hard for me to leave," Neal said. "I get to play golf with my boss. I've got a good gig. It's not always easier somewhere else. I found a place where my family is happy and I'm raising them in a good place.

"It's been very helpful for both of us here that it's a place that reminds us of home with the enthusiasm of basketball. It's not always greener on the other side. We have a great thing going and it's hard to leave. It would have to be a special situation. He'll let me know what that is."

The two former Indiana high school stars competed against each other in the early 1980s. They went to two high-profile colleges -- Alford to Indiana and Neal to Georgia Tech -- and then both had stints in the NBA, with Neal enjoying a 16-year professional career as a player and coach.

Alford was an Olympian. Neal stayed in the pros longer. Alford has been a head coach at multiple levels of basketball. Neal has been a trusted assistant in the pros and in college, lately for Alford.

They played for their fathers in high school, Steve in New Castle, Ind., and Craig in Washington, Ind.

"We grew up in basketball families and then Steve and I went our separate ways," Neal said. "But we kind of always viewed things the same way."

"We were both coaches' kids and played at a high level," Alford said. "We've been around a lot of good programs -- him in the NBA and me in college. He played for [Bobby] Cremins and I played for Coach [Bob] Knight. We played for our dads. If you can't figure out a blueprint then you should be doing something different. We've been together for eight years and averaged 25 wins a season with six championships of some sort in those eight years. They gave us the opportunity to really do the things we want to do with that blueprint here."

And in an interesting twist, for the past few seasons they have watched their sons compete against each other in Albuquerque, last spring playing for the 5-A state title.

Eldorado, where Saint Mary's-bound senior Cullen Neal plays, beat La Cueva, where UNM-bound senior Bryce Alford plays, in the state title game at the Pit. Bryce will join his brother Kory on the Lobos' roster in 2013 as Kory begins playing this season after redshirting in 2011-12.

The state final in March between Eldorado and La Cueva tipped off after the Lobos beat San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas. Soon after the net cutting and postgame news conference, Alford hustled to his hotel room and Neal to his and they watched the state title game online, on their respective laptops.

Neal said they were texting each other throughout the game. Neal had the final say, as Cullen scored 34 points for the Eagles' first state championship since 2005. The two teams will be favorites to meet again in the state final this school year.

"It's been fun with the kids growing up together the last eight years from the end of elementary to middle school to high school," Alford said. "We've watched them grow and mature from boys into young men. Our families are very close. Kory is here. Bryce is coming here. Cullen is going to Saint Mary's and [younger brother] Dalton is looking around. We've got four boys that are here instead of New Castle and Washington."

Added Neal: "It's been fun, even though they're at different schools. The most satisfying thing is when they work out with our guys and spend time with us."

New Mexico helped Alford and Neal quite a bit by upgrading the famed Pit and producing a quality practice facility with basketball-only weight and training rooms, as well as plush locker and meeting rooms.

The departure of San Diego State to the Big West in 2013 means UNM and UNLV will be the clear leaders in facilities and coaching salaries in the Mountain West.

On the court, the Lobos lost Drew Gordon off last season's NCAA third-round and MWC champion team, but they should challenge again.

The return of 7-foot center Alex Kirk from a back injury will help. The backcourt is as good as any in the West with Kendall Williams, Demetrius Walker, Tony Snell and Hugh Greenwood all back.

The schedule is improving under Alford with road games against Cincinnati and Saint Louis, an appearance at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands (which includes UConn, among others), home games against likely SoCon favorite Davidson, possible Pac-12 sleeper USC, co-Horizon favorite Valparaiso, Summit League champ South Dakota State and the annual home-and-home rivalry games against New Mexico State.

Tack on a round-robin slate against possible NCAA teams UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State and Nevada and the Lobos have plenty of power-rating points to be back in position for a bid again.

"This year we have a chance to be really good," Alford said. "Alex Kirk is back and should be one of the best big men out West. Our guards are back and we have really good guards. Anytime you have good guard play you can make things happen. We've got that. Next year we should be even better with the majority of our team back."

UNM basketball is the state's pro team. The fan base expects NCAA bids. And under Alford and Neal there is no reason to believe the Lobos won't be in the hunt for a bid every season going forward.

Lose Neal and the Lobos would take a hit.

But for now he's sticking with his best friend.

They look out for each other -- and the Lobos program and its passionate fan base has been the beneficiary.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is one of the 10 members of the NCAA tournament selection committee and was on the inside of the decision-making process that led to the change from a 65- to a 68-team field, despite the assumption nationally that the 96-team format was a done deal.

On Sunday night, Beebe emphasized that difference between perception and reality as he deals with the swirling rumors that his conference will implode after getting raided by the Big Ten and the Pac-10.

And that's why we need some perspective here before the assumption is made that the entire current format will be thrown into chaos with a land grab by the Big Ten and Pac-10.

Based on discussions Sunday night with a number of high-ranking sources throughout the NCAA (including those who have been in some of the direct talks on these topics during the past decade), here is some relevant information on the various possibilities:

• If the Big Ten can persuade Notre Dame to join the league, the expansion discussion is over. The Big Ten doesn't need anyone else but the Irish to accomplish its goal of increasing its value. The networks have lined up to get the Irish deal from NBC, and adding ND would enhance the Big Ten television property. All conference television contracts have a clause that they are subject to change if there is a membership change, meaning they can be worth more money (with Notre Dame) or less (if, say, the ACC were to lose members even after doubling its current deal).

• Being in the Association of American Universities is a major deal for the academic side of Notre Dame. If the Irish could be assured that they would get an 11-vote bloc of Big Ten schools to usher in Notre Dame as a member, that could sway the Irish hierarchy to move toward the Big Ten. If the Irish have no shot at the AAU, that could be a deciding factor against their joining the Big Ten. Getting into the AAU makes a Big Ten acceptance a lot easier.

• Romancing Notre Dame has been going on since the 1920s. The timing has to be right. There will be a critical mass of alumni who will want to remain as a football independent. For every other sport, being in the Big Ten makes more sense than the Big East, although this isn't a decision about the rest of them.

• Notre Dame wouldn't want to be one of five additions to the Big Ten. The Irish won't want their addition to be devalued.

• Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick have a longstanding relationship. Swarbrick was instrumental in bringing Big Ten championship games to Indianapolis while working in Indiana with the sports commission.

• Delaney won't get burned here. He's considered one of the most savvy and shrewdest negotiators in college athletics. He's not going to issue an invitation and get turned down.

• If Notre Dame were to join the Big Ten, the rest of the chatter would halt. The Big East could bump up Villanova football to FBS to avoid expansion, or it could add a member to stay at 16.

• If Notre Dame is the only grab by the Big Ten, there is no need to toy with Missouri and Nebraska.

• That means the ultimatum doesn't make any sense. Why would the Big 12 tell Missouri and Nebraska they have to be in or else? What's the consequence? The Big 12 isn't going to boot them out of the league. If they don't get an invite to the Big Ten, the chances are that nothing happens to the Big 12.

• The Longhorns won't do anything that won't benefit Texas. They don't want to leave unless they have to get out. Texas enjoys being the deal-maker in the Big 12 rather than just another school, albeit an important one, in the Pac-10 or even the Big Ten.

• Pac-10 presidents gave commissioner Larry Scott the go-ahead to look at expansion, but the academic profile of schools the league would invite is critical, much like the Big Ten. Not all the Big 12 schools meet this standard.

• UCLA and USC get the most money in the Pac-10 because of appearances. Both schools won't want to lose that status in a new, expanded conference.

• The Pac-10 can only expand and expect to make enough money on a television deal with Texas. Adding random Big 12 and/or MWC schools won't increase the value of a proposed television deal.

• The Big Ten Network deal that Delaney has is based on subscription fees and makes more money than the Pac-10 could on its own.

• The Pac-10's best hope is for a television merger with the Big 12, forming a mega TV deal. The Pac-10 and Big 12 television deals are up in 2012, and both leagues have confirmed discussions on a television agreement.

• A number of sources find it hard to believe that Kansas would somehow be left with nothing. Football drives this, but the power; prestige; tradition; and, most important, ratings of basketball do have serious value. It's akin to leaving out Duke in some sort of ACC chaos.

• Underselling the value of the new $10.8 billion deal with the NCAA tournament is a mistake. It matters. This is a football-driven discussion, but it's not at the expense of disrupting the entire NCAA tournament plan.

• A number of conference presidents are trying to ensure that any potential move makes sense. (For example, did Boston College to the ACC make sense?)

• Boise State would probably take a MWC invite, but does the MWC want to invite Boise State without knowing what will happen to the Big 12?

• All of this is relative to the discussions going on at the Pac-10 and the Big Ten. But so many of the doomsday scenarios could be tamed if Notre Dame were to tell the Big Ten yes.

Fran McCaffery has had quite a run of late, taking Siena to three straight NCAA tournaments, including two upsets in the first round.

The Saints are a trendy pick to win a third straight first-round game as No. 13 Siena goes up against No. 4 Purdue in Spokane on Friday.

Whenever McCaffery is done coaching this month, he'll have a decision to make.

Does he stay at Siena, where he has recently ruled the MAAC, or chase a bigger payday in a tougher conference?

Two years ago, he could have been a major player for the Providence job that Drake's Keno Davis ended up taking. McCaffery, however, was smart to stay put and not push for the job.

Now, McCaffery is definitely high up on the lists at Seton Hall and DePaul. If Norm Roberts isn't able to survive at St. John's, he could be in play there as well. McCaffery has the pedigree of someone who would be marketable to these Catholic schools. He was an assistant at Notre Dame under Digger Phelps. He is coaching at a similar institution now, though it is smaller and in a less rigorous conference. He has strong ties in the New York metro area, and there are no NCAA violations or any behavioral issues on his record. It would also make sense for Charlotte to look at him since he was once at UNC-Greensboro.

Still, he has to balance what would be a big payday with the assurance that it's the absolute right job he's taking.

He's a winner. But this is an intriguing situation for someone like McCaffery. There always seems to be the assumption that you have to go where the money and the league says you should. But do you?

I've covered the game for 20 years now, and I've seen plenty of questionable moves. The most recognizable ones came out of Butler. Few coaches have realized just how good a gig they've had in Indianapolis. Todd Lickliter left for Iowa and was fired three years later. Lickliter believed he could turn the Hawkeyes around. Barry Collier left for Nebraska. He was fired and ended up back at Butler as the athletic director.

McCaffery has to be careful here. He must make the right decision at a critical point in his career. Does also he look at Iowa, where he could be a fit since he was at Notre Dame and knows the Midwest?

The same could be true of someone like UTEP's Tony Barbee, who is a strong candidate at Auburn and DePaul. Barbee has the Miners in the NCAA tournament as a 12-seed and regular-season champions of Conference USA.

UTEP should be just as good next season, assuming the NBA doesn't grab Derrick Caracter and/or Randy Culpepper as early entrants. Barbee could be even hotter as a candidate with another successful season in El Paso. Another strong season could really improve his position in the market; he might not have to take a job at the bottom of a league that doesn't present much of an opportunity to move up in the standings quickly.

The most intriguing development Wednesday was Rutgers' announcement that it was sticking with Fred Hill. That news came to light hours after it was reported by the Newark Star-Ledger that Bobby Gonzalez was out at Seton Hall. Hill's contract situation didn't help Rutgers make a move -- he's reportedly owed over $1 million. But while Hill has had some attrition lately, such as losing big man Greg Echenique, he didn't draw attention to himself like Gonzo.

Gonzo's antics didn't help him. That fact was clear Wednesday. The lack of decorum of his Second Chance U. players -- from Keon Lawrence's wrong-way driving in the fall to Herb Pope's punch in the groin Tuesday night in the NIT loss to Texas Tech -- the Hall's appearance was not appealing.

Seton Hall should try to woo someone like McCaffery or Davidson's Bob McKillop, but the school is also smart enough to know that both coaches are in good situations. McKillop loves his life in the Davidson community north of Charlotte. Why would someone want to leave what makes sense for the craziness of the bottom of the Big East in the competitive New York metro area?

Still, the Hall will have to go with someone who has had no trouble in his past. Likewise, Fordham is trying to do that in looking for a replacement for Dereck Whittenburg. The Rams are looking to make a splash with the hire, but instead they need to ensure it is someone who makes sense, who wants to rebuild and doesn't mind grinding. That's why someone like Rhode Island's Jim Baron -- who might have overstayed his situation at URI after failing to make the NCAAs -- would be an interesting call. But why not look at a coach at a school that can't compete financially, like Northeastern's Bill Coen? There are coaches out there who need to take a gamble to move up rather than leave a comfortable situation. That's why places like Fordham and Seton Hall should also consider Tom Herrion, the top assistant at Pitt, or Hofstra's Tom Pecora. These might be jobs at which NCAA tournament appearances or success isn't the issue, but character and personality fit are more likely the answers. Pitt promoted Jamie Dixon as an assistant and that worked, right? Robert Morris' Mike Rice worked at Fordham, where he is an alum.

Some other quick hitters

• Hawaii already interviewed Gib Arnold, the former USC assistant, and Saint Mary's Kyle Smith. Arnold and Smith have strong ties to Honolulu. UH officials were on the mainland in Los Angeles on Wednesday talking to Gonzaga assistant and former Utah and Eastern Washington head coach Ray Giacoletti, Colorado assistant and former Wyoming coach Steve McClain and Southern Miss assistant and former San Jose State coach Steve Barnes. The Warriors couldn't go wrong with any of these choices. All have a sense of the difficulties of the job at Hawaii. I still contend it is a quality job.

• Charlotte is lurking as a quality gig for someone who can move quickly up the A-10 ladder. What will be interesting is whether former Charlotte assistant Dalonte Hill, now at Kansas State, can get a serious look after he left the 49ers and took committed player Michael Beasley with him to Manhattan. I would think the 49ers would get a lot of hits from head coaches.

• Oregon will wait until Gonzaga's Mark Few finishes the season before an official push. After that, expect the Oregon program to look long and hard at coaches with Nike ties who have been at a national-championship level. That's why Minnesota's Tubby Smith will be dangled as a candidate.

• Would Providence's Keno Davis go back to Iowa to coach the Hawkeyes after his father Tom was pushed out? I would say yes. Would they hire him? I think it would be hard after the way the Friars' season ended.

• I find it hard to believe that Trent Johnson would leave LSU and head back home to Boise State. Coaches are squawking about this occurring. I would be surprised if Johnson left an SEC job for the WAC. This was one bad year at LSU after winning the SEC West the previous season, but give him time.

• I'm not just shilling for a fellow colleague. I do love the knowledge Fran Fraschilla and Tim Welsh share with me on the game. They both were and should coach again if they feel it's right for them and their families. One coach just started with us and I wouldn't be surprised if he got a call this spring: former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried. He won with the Tide and reached the Elite Eight but had a number of injuries that derailed him late in his tenure. Gottfried deserves another shot.

• Was the Ernie Kent firing the longest, most drawn-out process recently? Why didn't Oregon just make it official when Mike Bellotti informed Kent? It made no sense to wait.

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