Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Night Beer: The Mayor Returns to Ames

Iowa State's hiring of Fred Hoiberg to replace Greg McDermott might be so crazy it just might work. The main knock on Hoiberg is his total lack of coaching experience. Big concern? Absolutely. But lack of experience does not ensure failure, just merely raises a big concern. It all revolves around how Hoiberg builds his staff to address his lack of experience. One year ago, some people laughed at the idea of Trev Alberts jumping from television into the athletic director's chair at UNO. It only took two months for people to stop laughing.

ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard got another mulligan with his coaching hires. After misfiring with Gene Chizek, he went for someone who knew and loved the state of Iowa in Paul Rhodes. Most people reacted with skepticism, but leading the Cyclones to a bowl game last season certainly validated Pollard's decision. Now, Pollard reached deep to bring Hoiberg back to Ames.  Crazy? Yes. But it's not as big of a reach as you might think. He's vice president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, in charge of scouting, the salary cap, and the draft. So he's got the administrative experience.

The big thing he brings is instant credibility with fans from playing eight years in Ames as "the Mayor".  That will buy him time with fans and boosters who haven't had much to celebrate in basketball since Larry Eustachy popped the top on a few Natty Lights.  They'll be more patient with Hoiberg than any other candidate.

But even that goodwill won't matter if Hoiberg doesn't eventually win.  Brandon Vogel points out the aura of the "dream job" and whether Bo Pelini might covet the Ohio State job down the line when Jim Tressel finally steps down. Right now, Pelini is riding high in the state of Nebraska on the basis of three years of success at Nebraska.  (Yes, I'm counting the 2003 defense along with the 2008-09 seasons.) But how much slack will Husker fans give him if Nebraska has an off year?  Look at how Briejay fan turned on Dana Altman; the common response this weekend from the Hilltop wasn't so much sadness as it was relief.

One of the surprises of the NFL draft to me was that Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander went undrafted. Turns out that I shouldn't have been so surprised; Alexander underwent knee surgery once again after injuring cartilage in Senior Bowl practices. I'm sure that knee injury scared NFL front offices, but Alexander's productivity on the field should ensure he'll get a chance if and when he's cleared to play.

With Ndamukong Suh and Phillip Dillard being drafted last weekend, it's time to close the book on the 2005 Husker recruiting class.  Remember that hyped class?  Five players from that group of 30 were drafted (Zack Bowman, Cody Glenn, and Matt Slauson were the others).  Not bad, you say?  Well, let's put it in perspective.  Nebraska's 2002 recruiting class (you know, that #40 rated class that was used as an excuse to fire Frank Solich) had 4 players out of 18 drafted -- including two first-rounders (Adam Carriker and Fabian Washington).

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