“Indiana wants him, but he may not go back there” #NBPRD

Here is the 1st “recycled” post in honor of #NBPRD!

The following was my first ever blog post, titled “Indiana wants him, but he may not go back there” which talks about the rumors that former Iowa coach Steve Alford could return to Indiana, where he was a star player.  This was written on February 20, 2006 for Juice.

“Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there.” — R. Dean Taylor from the song “Indiana Wants Me,” 1970

With Mike Davis stepping down as Indiana coach, Iowa fans is anxious to line up Dubuque Street in Iowa City to give Steve Alford his farewell tour en route to Bloomington.

Steve Alford, still an Indiana boy at heart

With that said, I wouldn’t be so quick to say Steve is leaving right away. Consider the facts: after six years of moaning and griping, the Hawks are in first place in the Big Ten for the first time since Lute Olson was patrolling the sidelines in the old Iowa Fieldhouse (I wonder if Lute made a deal with the devil for his good looks. He hasn’t aged since 1970).

Alford has finally found his comfort zone with this program. This year, there has been no Pierre Pierce, no academic casualties, and no one being thrown under the bus (yet). It’s a given that a good number of fans are still not down with Alford, but give him credit for learning from the mistakes he has created prior to this season. Unfortunately, our friends to the east (Indiana) seem to keep screwing it up for us.

It’s ironic that something crazy happens at Indiana at this time every year. Remember the histrionics that followed Bob Knight around when his teams went to the Big Dance? You know, the whip he “used” on Calbert Cheaney, the verbal berating of the NCAA public relations guy, the allegations of him mentally and verbally abusing Neil Reed and the video evidence prior to one of their first round games? General Robert Montgomery Knight was and is still good for college basketball., depending on how you viewed him.

What if, and that’s a big “if”,  Alford doesn’t want to go back home? Indiana expects national championships. Iowa is content in beating ISU and going to the Big Dance. Indiana is a pressure cooker, while Iowa is the little kettle brewing hot tea.

Indiana may want Steve back, it’s likely that he may not live up to their “expectations.” Just being “Back Home in Indiana” doesn’t necessarily equate to a coronation or a free pass. If he struggles in the first 4-5 years like he has at Iowa, Hoosier Nation will get ugly real fast, regardless if he’s an ‘Indiana man’ or not.

Steve Alford has to win games. His body of work, coaching-wise, isn’t good enough for Bloomington. Alford has to establish himself more in the area of coaching and managing a major Division I team before he can be considered getting another gig. He was successful at D-III Manchester (Ind.) and did reasonably well at Missouri State. This is a different animal he’s working with.

Alford isn’t the only guy on the wish list in Bloomington. Assistants and players like Dan Dakich (Bowling Green), Jim Crews (Army), Dane Fife, Keith Smart, and Isaiah Thomas, and heaven forbid, former assistant Dave Bliss (ex-Baylor) could be looked at. I don’t expect Indiana to be associated with dead bodies if Bliss gets hired. He’ll be pulling up to Assembly Hall with a funeral hearse.

The Alford critics may not enjoy hearing this, but he could stay. It’s about 50/50 right now. I could be wrong, but I bet that they are the same group who ran Dr. Tom Davis out to find someone who would take the Hawks to “the next level.”

Be careful what you ask for, because you might get something you will regret.

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