When I woke up this morning and headed to the kitchen for breakfast, I noticed that I had a text message waiting for me on my cell phone. It was a Rivals.com update referencing a report out of Omaha stating that McDermott was offered and had accepted the Creighton job. Somewhat shocked, I sat down to eat breakfast. But after finishing just half my meal, I had to get up again to re-read the text message to make sure I wasn’t misinterpreting something while in a 5 o’clock haze. It read the same the second time around.
In case you’ve had your head in the sand for the past few days, let me catch you up to speed. Over the weekend news broke that Creighton men’s basketball coach Dana Altman would leave CU to take the job at Oregon. Shortly thereafter rumors started swirling that Creighton was interested in Greg McDermott and that McDermott would listen if contacted. Late Sunday it was reported that the job had indeed been offered to McDermott. Finally, around mid-afternoon today, it was reportedly a done deal.
So there you have it: McDermott to Auburn, er… Creighton. Yes, lightning apparently can strike the same place twice, and Jamie Pollard has to feel like the luckiest man on earth. Iowa State has once again been bailed out of a bad coaching fit by another university. I will never fault Pollard for the Chizik or McDermott hires. They both looked great at the time, and most Cyclone fans were excited about the future. Things just didn’t work out for a multitude of reasons, none of which I will discuss in this post.
In a previous post I speculated that McDermott would leave for another Missouri Valley job, if offered. I just didn’t think it would be Creighton. In my opinion, it was only logical to conclude that McDermott must be a terribly unhappy individual given the results of the past four seasons. I also concluded that Pollard’s decision to retain McDermott must have been a financial one, all things considered. Occam’s Razor is a logical principle that states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum necessary. Ultimately, the simplest solution is usually the correct one. In my mind, coming to any conclusions other than the two I just laid out would simply require too many illogical assumptions.
So if the coach is unhappy, and his boss is only retaining him because he can’t yet afford to buyout the contract, then it’s not much of a leap to speculate that said coach may be willing to explore other opportunities should they present themselves. Many Cyclone fans were attacked for presenting such speculation. We were told that McDermott would never give up before the job was done. Well, guess what. People do interesting things when faced with desperate situations. Not only did McDermott not finish the job, but he will leave the program in worse shape than when he found it. Perhaps all future speculation will be met with more of an open mind.
While we’re on the issue of information being met with an open mind, something else needs to be said. When the rumors that Jeff Grayer would be hired as an assistant at Iowa State started circulating, I suggested on a Cyclones messageboard that the move appeared to be a bit of a PR stunt. This was based primarily on the fact that Grayer has a recognizable name, but no college coaching or recruiting experience. I stated that this was not a healthy environment in which to introduce a Cyclone great to the world of college coaching. The suggestion was not well-received.
My guess is McDermott wasn’t confident that these staff changes would be enough to turn things around at Iowa State, otherwise he wouldn’t have left his home state for a mid-major job. He was running out of ideas and time to implement them, so he decided to get out of town ahead of the posse. Unfortunately, Jeff Grayer became another victim along the way. Maybe he’ll get another opportunity to return to Ames at some point in the future.
A lot of damage has been done to the ISU men’s basketball program over the past several years, but now is an opportunity for healing. It’s going to be a difficult task, but it’s time for the caretakers of Cyclone basketball (Jamie Pollard, Gary Thompson, and the like) to complete an in-depth examination of the program. Steps have been taken to improve some of those things outside of the coach’s control, such as practice facilities and academic support structures. Obviously, the coaching search will get most of the attention from here on out, but Iowa State needs to turn over every stone to ensure that our new coach will have the best possible opportunity to succeed.
We’ll get into the coaching search in more detail down the road. There’s a lot of information out there to process after this whirlwind of a day, and it’s still hard to believe how quickly it all transpired. Hopefully Iowa State can emerge from this mess as cleanly as McDermott already has.