Now that former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has made the jump to the NBA, having just agreed to become the coach of the Chicago Bulls, the university needs to name his successor. Unfortunately, it looks like that process is going to take a while.
According to CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, AD Jamie Pollard wants to hire team assistant T.J. Otzelberger. There’s nothing to suggest that he isn’t an ideal candidate, given that he knows the team and has a reputation as a solid recruiter. Before returning to Ames this year, he also spent two seasons under Lorenzo Romar at Washington. Long story short, he has the means to succeed with Iowa State and pick up where Hoiberg left off, despite being just 37 years old.
But then there’s university president Steven Heath who, per Jon Rothstein, thinks the school should go after a bigger name. Granted, that isn’t the worst idea as the Cyclones are a Final Four contender and maintaining momentum in the Big 12 is important. It could also put boosters’ collective minds at ease that the team is in the hands of someone who has indeed been a head coach before and isn’t just an assistant getting a grand opportunity.
And this the part where I say that while I understand that Heath wants to do his due diligence, his overall reasoning is kind of ridiculous.
“He feels the level of the job has changed since Fred got here,” one source said of Leath. “He wants to bring in someone with some pedigree. It’s a battle of wills right now.”
I’m sorry, but let’s take another look at Otzelberger. He knows Hoiberg’s system, knows the players, and is familiar with the culture of Iowa State. If there’s anyone who can keep the team performing at a high level and make the post-Hoiberg transition smooth, it’s him.
And yet, Heath is insistent on luring a big name to Ames instead of taking a step back and thinking about how the players would respond to a new system suddenly thrust upon them.
Nothing on ISU’s coaching search and/or Otzelberger’s status is official yet, but Campus Sports will update this story as it develops.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports