Most of us have been in relationships, jobs, or situations where we try to make the best of it, only to see it end badly or with resignation. When you break up with someone (girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.) the most common phrase being used today is “It’s not you, it’s me.” You try not to place blame on the other person for the breakup, and you try to take accountability for your own failings or change of heart. Maybe you were not into that person as much as you thought you were.
That phrase can be easily applied to Monday’s announcement by Iowa athletic director Gary Barta that Todd Lickliter will not be retained as the men’s basketball coach. It just didn’t work out.
Everyone can blame Lickliter for the “Butler”-style offense, the number of players transferring, and the lack of interest. But what we can’t dispute is that he is a good coach and and a good individual. He was successful at Butler, so he’s isn’t a terrible coach. It just didn’t work out.
Lickliter was the anti-Steve Alford. Iowa fans hated Steve Alford so much, that when Lickliter was hired, Hawkeye fans had already decided not to show up at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch the team. In simple terms, Iowa fans quit on Lickliter before he coached his first game. Furthermore, as proven during the football season, Iowa fans want to be a major player on the national scene. If we want to be talked about and noticed, then we need to shell out a lot of money to get the best coach. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Today, we want the anti-Lickliter. We need to make up our minds and stick with it. Sportswriters in this state were never wrong with they say that Iowa fans are the most fickle and the pickiest when it comes to coaches. Everyone’s a backseat coach.
The Iowa basketball program, as Sean Keeler pointed out in his column on Monday, needs a makeover. I agree with him, and I’ll add another reason that a makeover is needed: Iowa is still stuck in the Alford era. That’s all everyone wants to talk about. The less the program and the fans stop talking about it, the better they are in looking forward.
Iowa and Todd Lickliter tried to make it work. It just didn’t work out the way they had hoped for. That’s the reality of it. They parted ways on Monday with no animosity towards each other. Too bad most fans can do that on their own.
Now it’s up to Iowa fans to adjust their attitude and get out of the “Alford” mentality and accept the fact that they are more John Caliparis (big recruiter, a bit of a snake-oil salesman) than there are Dr. Toms (nice guy, taskmaster, stickler to the rules).
Get the best “coach” out there, not the popular one that fans want. Fans are usually wrong, including me.