Fred Hoiberg was fresh off of a second consecutive Big 12 tournament championship and an unfortunate early exit in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones return arguably one of the best teams it has ever had, and a Naismith Award Candidate in senior forward Georges Niang. What is the most “Iowa State Thing” that could happen? A star player hurt before the season starts? No. Recruiting violations and possible penalty? Try again. Off-court misconduct with players? Nope. Losing its head coach, one of the most decorated and loyal Cyclone around to the NBA? Yep. Fred Hoiberg, kept quiet amidst rumors he would be heading to Chicago, and well, shortly after…here we sit. Fred Hoiberg, the Mayor, doing his best Lloyd Christmas impression by telling Iowa State “Big gulps eh?…welp, see ya later,” moving on to the windy city.
Iowa State fans are very familiar with heartbreak, regardless of sport. In 2004 the football squad lost a home overtime game to Missouri for the Big 12 North title, and in 2005 lost to Kansas in overtime, again for the Big 12 North title. In basketball, who could forget the memorable 1999-2000 team that went 32-5 with Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley, arguably the best Cyclone team to ever set foot on the court, ultimately losing to Michigan State in the Elite 8? Or how about Ohio State’s Aaron Craft hitting a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds in the 2013 Round of 32 to send the Cyclones packing. Or this past year’s one point loss to UAB in the first round as a #3 seed and trendy pick to make a deep run? Key moments in which the Cyclones were unable to get over the hump and were left saying, “What if?” Just when Iowa State envisioned long-term relevancy in the Big 12, it loses a vital piece of its nucleus. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, “Iowa State Thing,” it is similar to that of Murphy’s Law, which states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The fact that Hoiberg accepted the Chicago Bull’s coaching vacancy proves that Ames’ golden boy, The Mayor himself is not even immune to the “Iowa State Thing” syndrome.
Of course this is the most pessimistic way of viewing Hoiberg’s decision, and of course I don’t think there is a superficial curse or force that causes Cyclone Nation to suffer. The fact of the matter is, Cyclone Nation did not think (or want to believe) one of its most prominent figures would leave them behind. It was well-known that Hoiberg had large aspirations to one day be the head coach of an NBA team, and you can argue that the timing was right for him now. However, Hoiberg’s ambitions to coach an NBA team came at a time that Iowa State was poised to make a very dangerous run as well. There is some sense of betrayal that lurks around Ames. In the end, the NBA opportunity outweighed retaining one of the (if not the) most talented Iowa State roster(s) in its history, a likely top-10 ranking, and a legitimate chance at a Final-Four run. If you’re a Cyclone fan, yes, you’re going to feel betrayed. How could you not? It is a decision that the Cyclones will have to forgive and forget.
The focus now rests on Athletics Director Jamie Pollard finding the right individual that can come in and maintain what Hoiberg started just five short years ago. The talent is there to win, and win big, in 2015-2016 and is the expectation that lies within Hilton Coliseum and Cyclone faithful. Anything less than that, well, it would just be an “Iowa State Thing”.
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