IU COACHING CANDIDATE: Steve Alford

Steve Alford was given virtually no consideration the last time the IU coaching position was open, but will the story be different this time around? HoosierNation.com looks at what makes Alford a legitimate candidate, what makes him a long shot, and what the end result will likely be...

Steve Alford probably didn't see this coming two years ago.

After being summarily dismissed as a candidate to replace Mike Davis as IU's basketball coach by IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan in 2006, the former All-American might get a second look now that the IU coaching position is open once again.

Two years ago, Alford was coming off his best season as Iowa's head coach. Led by the veteran trio of Greg Brunner, Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska, the Hawkeyes went 25-9 and won the Big Ten Tournament title. While the season ended with a disappointing first-round NCAA tourney loss to Northwestern State, many thought it was a foregone conclusion the New Castle, Ind., native would be the pick to take over the Indiana program.

Not so fast. As it turns out, Alford was not only passed over, but was never given serious consideration. Greenspan opted to go outside of the "IU family" and eventually picked Oklahoma Coach Kelvin Sampson to head the Hoosier basketball program. According to sources close to the situation, Greenspan actually never spoke with Alford (or other former IU players-turned-coaches such as Randy Wittman) about the job, a perceived slight that left a bad taste in plenty of peoples' mouths.

Fast forward to 2008, and Alford is once again being mentioned as a potential replacement, this time for Sampson. HoosierNation.com sources indicate Alford's representatives have been putting out feelers to judge what kind of interest there is this time around, although it's unclear how seriously Alford would be considered.

Alford is in the midst of his first year at New Mexico, a program he took over after spending eight years in Iowa City. Despite a 152-106 mark at the Big Ten school Alford's popularity waned during the second-half of his tenure, prompting him to look at IU and Missouri two years ago and then to depart for New Mexico last season.

His first season at the Mountain West Conference school has been a success. The Lobos are 24-7 and 11-5 in conference, earning them the No. 3 seed in this week's postseason tourney. Led by former Kansas player and recently-named MWC Player of the Year J.R. Giddens, New Mexico has an excellent chance of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team if it doesn't win its conference's automatic berth.

Alford signed a six-year deal at New Mexico that pays him close to $1 million annually – approximately double what New Mexico paid its former coach, Ritchie McKay. New Mexico also recently built a new basketball practice facility, and it about to embark on a $12 million renovation project of its home arena, The Pit.

What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: The 42-year-old Alford is a former All-American at IU and has enjoyed successful coaching stints at Southwest Missouri State, Iowa and now New Mexico. There are many who didn't like the results when IU opted to go outside of the family for its most recent coach, and they'd like to see Greenspan turn the program over to someone with IU ties. Few have stronger ties to the university as well as the state as Alford, who still returns to Indiana in the summers to conduct a summer basketball camp in Franklin. He would also figure to be a big hit with many high-level donors, something that goes a long way in coaching searches. While the Lobo program has a new practice facility and is about to renovate its basketball arena, Alford would still jump at the chance to return to his alma mater. While he's been rumored to have a less-than-cozy relationship with Greenspan due to a supposed incident when both were in the Missouri Valley Conference (as well as the results of Greenspan's last basketball coaching search), the chance to return to Indiana would be too good of an opportunity for him to pass up.

What Makes Him a Longshot: Alford got out of Iowa City before the fans ran him out, so his Big Ten track record is far from flawless. Some of the reasons Iowa fans never warmed up to him might have been because of his Indiana roots and his close ties with former IU Coach Bob Knight, but it was obvious that their attitude was, don't let the door hit you in the *** when he left last summer. While his overall winning percentage hovered around 60 percent, he only made three NCAA tourney appearances in his eight seasons with the Hawkeyes, and his teams had a sub-.500 league mark and generally under-performed during conference play. Those kind of results weren't acceptable at a historically middle-tier Big Ten program, and they clearly wouldn't be accepted at one of the league's most tradition-rich schools.

HoosierNation.com's Take: I've got to believe if Greenspan is making the decision, Alford doesn't have much of a chance. Feathers were ruffled two years ago when Greenspan didn't formally interview Alford and didn't even call him as a courtesy to let him know he wasn't going to be considered for the job. While many might not think such a gesture was necessary, many others think that Alford deserved at least that much in 2006. Of course, Alford's second chance at his admitted dream job could come nonetheless. After all, Greenspan's job is far from secure thanks to the alleged violations committed by Kelvin Sampson's basketball staff, and the IU AD suggested he was far from the only one involved in making the Sampson hire in the first place. That would give Alford some other avenues to pursue while trying to get his foot in the door to his alma mater.

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