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Hoiberg bolting a bummer for the Big 12

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Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Just when things were lining up for the Big 12 Conference to have one heck of a trio of men's basketball coaches at the top of the list — and an even deeper top-tier lineup farther down — Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg went and did something everybody knew he eventually would do anyway.

Bummer.

Hoiberg, who has agreed to leave his alma mater to take over the head coaching role with the Chicago Bulls, is bolting college basketball for the chance to work for a close friend, with a stacked team in a league that is so well suited to his style and skills.

Anyone calling Hoiberg anything other than brilliant right now just doesn't get it.

Unfortunately, though, his departure from the Big 12 is a significant blow to the coaching power in the conference.

That's not to say the Cyclones won't find a worthy replacement. The guess here is this search will be a lot like the one K-State had when Bob Huggins left and some guy named Frank Martin, who at the time was known as little more than a former high school coach in Florida, took over the Wildcats' program and continued the momentum that Huggins had started.

With or without Hoiberg, Iowa State would have a terrific team heading into the 2015-16 season. They return a ton of experience, some serious talent and should be ranked in the Top 10 when the preseason polls come out.

Add to that the idea that people probably will be doubting them a little bit now that Hoiberg is gone and you're looking at a potentially more dangerous team that before, whether they make a big name hire, go with Hoiberg's top assistant (T.J. Otzelberger) or hand the keys to Melvin Weatherwax.

So this season is not the issue. And if things go as well for the Cyclones as they did for K-State with Martin, then there's still plenty of reason to believe that Ames, Iowa, can remain relevant in the college basketball world for years to come.

That, of course, is not a given, though, and to call it anything close to that is to not give enough credit to what Hoiberg did and the culture he built there.

There's no doubt that the next guy running things in Ames, whoever he is, will do his best to follow in Hoiberg's footsteps and run things the way The Mayor did so successfully for all these years. That's a solid blueprint, but one that's much easier to want to follow than to execute.

Whether the new coach can get the same kind of transfers, recruit the same caliber of player or run the same kind of program — both in terms of practices and in-game demeanor — is all up in the air and those will be the biggest questions to answer when wondering whether Iowa State hoops can keep its spot as one of KU's top challengers year after year.

What is known already, though, is that, no matter who replaces Hoiberg, the program definitely just lost a lot of its national shine. There's just something appealing about the All-American, hometown kid coaching his alma mater and doing it with a smoothness and confidence that makes him easy to root for.

The loss of Hoiberg is a blow to Iowa State. But it's also a blow to the Big 12 both in terms of the competitive team the Cyclones can field and how bright the spotlight lit up Ames because of Hoiberg's presence.

All of this right after Texas did its part by adding Shaka Smart to the lineup.

Bummer.

Comments

Cary Ediger 6 years, 6 months ago

Class act, going to miss seeing him on the sidelines.

Andrew Holmes 6 years, 6 months ago

"That's not to say the Cyclones won't find a worthy replacement. The guess here is this search will be a lot like the one K-State had when Bob Huggins left and some guy named Frank Martin, who at the time was known as little more than a former high school coach in Florida, took over the Wildcats' program and continued the momentum that Huggins had started. "

God, I hope the coaching search follows that path and not the path from Martin to Weber. Iowa State could be sent back to the dark ages if the right guy isn't found.

Joe Ross 6 years, 6 months ago

When youre the best, you want to play real competition. What I will miss the most about Hoiberg is the test he gave Kansas year in-year out. Wish him the best in Chicago.

Tim Taylor 6 years, 6 months ago

"or hand the keys to Melvin Weatherwax" - that made me laugh! Hate to see Hoiberg leave ISU and the conference. He is a great coach and seems like a really good guy.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 6 months ago

ISU's AD wants Otzelberger, and ISU's President wants a big name coach to take over. I don't blame the president for wanting a big name coach, but the reality is there's not a big name coach out there in early June in college basketball. The AD was hired to make decisions like this and their president needs to let the AD do his job.

Michael Sillman 6 years, 6 months ago

Iowa State will be fine for the next year or two but I'm doubtful whether they can remain among the elite without Hoiberg.

Replacing him at ISU is like replacing Snyder at K State.

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