Big 12 News

Mike Krzyzewski Tells T.J. Otzelberger He Almost Took the Iowa State Job Before Duke

NCAA Basketball: UNLV at San Diego State

While Iowa State fans have come to love having head coach T.J. Otzelberger in Ames, it’s nearly impossible to avoid imagining life with legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski leading the Cyclones.

Coach K was joined by Otzelberger on SiriusXM’s Basketball & Beyond show and told a story about being offered the head coaching job at Iowa State back in 1980.


“In 1980, I was offered the Iowa State job,” Krzyzewski said. “I went there and almost took the job, but I was still in the running for Duke. I decided to stay with Duke, and then they hired Johnny Orr.”

Krzyzewski went on to coach at Duke from 1980 until his retirement in 2022, a 42-year span that included five National Championships, three Naismith Coach of the Year awards, 13 regular-season ACC titles, 12 ACC Tournament Championships, and many more accolades.

While TJ Otzelberger is still relatively early in his career as a head coach, he has experienced a solid start to his career in Ames with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and a career winning percentage of .648 (57-31). Coach K, on the other hand, retired as one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of college basketball with a career winning percentage of .785 (1,129-309).

While Coach K has been enjoying retirement and TJ Otzelberger has the Cyclones playing their best basketball in the past three seasons, stories like Coach K’s make you wonder, “What If?!”

To Top