Iowa's Search for New Head Coach Gets Help from Committee and Dick Vitale

B.Senior Analyst IMarch 21, 2010

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 06:  ESPN analyst Dick Vitale surfs the crowd with the Cameron Crazies before the start of the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 6, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As March Madness intensifies, so does Iowa's search for a new head coach.

Over the weekend, while most of the state was captivated by Ali Farokhmanesh's three-point invincibility , the University of Iowa announced that a five member committee will assist Athletic Director Gary Barta in finding the next men's head basketball coach.

In addition to Barta, the five-member committee will consist of:

Fred Mims, Associate Athletics Director
Betsy Altmaier, Faculty Athletic Representative
Ellie Herman, Chair of the Presidential Committee on Athletics
Bobby Hansen, Former Basketball Student-Athlete

The committee will be tasked with finding a replacement for the recently-fired Todd Lickliter.

After compiling a 38-58 record in three years as head coach, Lickliter was relieved of his duties at Iowa. Iowa's 22 losses during the year was a single-season record.

The recently-announced committee is similar to the one constructed for Iowa's 2007 search, but one name sticks out more than the others.

Bobby Hansen was a standout high school basketball player in the state of Iowa that was recruited by coach Lute Olson and played a key role on the last Iowa team to reach the Final Four (1980). He went on to a respectable NBA career and earned a championship ring before he retired from the NBA in 1992.

On top of being a passionate, diehard Hawkeye, Hansen currently works as a radio analyst for men's basketball games. He knows Iowa basketball in and out, from recruiting to the rich tradition behind the program, and will no doubt prove to be an invaluable resource for the committee.

The committee is a week behind fans and analysts in the pursuit of finding the right candidate.  Hawkeye basketball fans have been hard at work for the past week, putting together hypothetical lists of the possibilities to replace Lickliter.

While no official names have been released yet, many of the potential candidates have already declared that they aren't interested in the position.

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl is a favorite for most Hawkeye fans, but doesn't appear to be interested in the lateral coaching move. Pearl was a former assistant at Iowa, and has navigated his Volunteers team into the Sweet 16 this year.

He has politely hinted that, while flattered, it would be highly unlikely to play out.

Providence head coach Keno Davis, the son of former head coach Dr. Tom Davis, is also another fan favorite. But, like Pearl, he recently told a reporter he wasn't interested.

"It would be tough for me to leave because of all that we've done to start turning the corner here at Providence," Davis explained to a local paper , "I'm not interested in that job and I’ve let everybody know it."

Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson is also a hypothetical candidate that likely won't come to fruition. Like Pearl, Jacobson has his Panther team in this year's Sweet 16, a feat that has the whole state of Iowa glowing with joy.

Jacobson is one of the more polarizing names on the list. No one can doubt his coaching ability, especially after guiding Northern Iowa to one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history, but many are wary to go the mid-major coach route again.

If the committee takes the advice of ESPN 's Dick Vitale, the mid-major coaching option wouldn't be a problem.

During a segment on ESPN about open coaching positions, Vitale suggested that Iowa look in former head coach Steve Lavin's direction.

Lavin is currently an ESPN game analyst, but has recently hinted that he would like to get back into coaching.

Like Jacobson, Lavin's name also seems to be a polarizing one on the message boards. Hawkeye Nation features a long discussion thread about Vitale's mention of Lavin, and a recent fan poll linked on the Des Moines Register 's website already has Lavin as the third-most voted candidate .

Fans love him for his past success at UCLA, his recruiting ability, and his enthusiasm for the game. Others see shades of Steve Alford, which makes them a little wary. His absence from coaching for the last seven years also has some thinking a better solution might be available.

Regardless of who the fans want, the committee will do their due diligence to select the best candidate for the job.

Hopefully that process is a quick and painless one.