Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Short List, v. 2.0
I think the running opinion now, at least among non-delusional Iowa fans, is that Barta will make a solid, safe choice now that Pearl is out of the picture. That only pushes Dana Altman closer to the job (if he will take it, that is). But there is one interesting scenario in play: the short-term PR fix.
The biggest problem for Barta now is Minnesota's signing of Tubby Smith (a masterstroke, especially coming off the confusing Tim Brewster hire). There is nobody else on the radar with the same star power as Smith, but Barta doesn't want to be seen as falling behind Minny. The smart play would be Altman or Lowery, a young coach with a proven track record from a mid-major program who would bring stability and, hopefully, success to the program. But Barta may feel pressured to make a big move. Imagine getting Majerus or someone of that ilk, a stand-in coach with a big name who can give you three to five years of his time until another successor is ready. For that reason, I'm moving Majerus to 10:1 odds and leaving the door open for Steve Lavin, Huggy Bear (still highly unlikely, but maybe a little less so), or another big-name coach waiting in the wings. I still don't see a big-money run at Gillispie or Stallings in the mix, though.
I still think this is Dana Altman's job to lose. But that's not to say it's a mortal lock.
By the way, Bruce Pearl is a class act. He could have declined the call, thereby diminishing the stature of the program. He could have played Iowa's offer for a raise from Rocky Top (like Alford or Ferentz has done routinely in the past). But he praised the institution and the program, then said he was happy in Knoxville. So thanks for making the rejection sting just a little less, Bruce.