It's no secret that I think Iowa State University made the right decision to fire men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy. Especially for those who listen to my radio show.
It's also no secret that a lot of you, maybe even a majority of you, disagree with Iowa State and me about that decision.
It's definitely no secret that Larry Eustachy has as much chance of successfully appealing this decision as I do of fitting into size-34 jeans by Christmas. It's not going to happen. All of this bluster, on both sides, carries little substance. All of the public relations work on both sides – whether it be Eustachy's plethora of national media appearances or ISU's sudden release of Eustachy's "cash payments" to players last Friday – is full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Those that categorize this nightmare as strictly a Bruce Van De Velde vs. Larry Eustachy loser leave town match are missing the bigger picture. There's simply no way ISU's athletic director would've stepped onto that ledge by himself. You can't argue for Bruce's ineptitude while at the same time contending he is orchestrating this whole mess. That conventional wisdom is incongruent. He's either a dolt or Machiavellian, but he can't be one in the same. Now, that doesn't mean the athletic department gets a free pass in this fiasco. More on that later.
Believe me, it's the administration and ivory tower folks who are driving this train. They've decided they simply aren't going to put up with a basketball coach who they view as having "profoundly embarrassed" them any longer. They've apparently also decided that they're not going to let a select few boosters in the athletic department decide for them what should be the standards of conduct for their university nor how those standards will be upheld.
Make no mistake, the powers-that-be are going to get their way because you can't fight city hall. And it's likely Jerry Crawford and Doug Gross, Eustachy's very qualified and capable attorneys, are well aware of this.
What is going on now between both sides is strictly about money, no more and no less. As usual the fans are caught in the cross-fire. And that's where I'd like to focus the remainder of this column.
It's counter-productive for fans and media on both sides of the issue to continue debating it. It's a fate accompli, and after all the language is worked out and Eustachy finally leaves after his attorneys successfully negotiate whatever buyout ISU is willing to fork over, ISU athletics and the Cyclone Nation will remain.
Somehow, we're all going to have to work and live together when this cardinal-and-gold civil war is over. And what I'm afraid of is that nobody that should be is considering that. Forces on both sides are so entrenched right now that I'm beginning to wonder if anybody realizes the collateral damage that is being inflicted inside the ISU fan community. I know many of you reading this disagree with my stance on Eustachy's termination, but regardless I've always viewed my editorial role with this endeavor as a "voice of the fan" more than a "voice of the coaches" or a "voice of the administration." And it's the fan base I am primarily concerned with henceforth.
When all is said and done, many of you were here long before Van De Velde, Eustachy, and Cyclone Nation arrived; and you'll be here long after they're gone.
Those fans that think Eustachy did nothing wrong or seem to be basing their opinion of this matter strictly on wins and losses do not deserve to be heard from inside the administration and athletic department. However, that seems to be a small minority and they'll likely be placated if the right successor is hired anyway.
It's the plurality of those supporting Eustachy that ISU needs to be concerned about. Those are people who either know Eustachy personally or were so moved by his statements of contrition and admittance of his alcoholism last week that they would prefer the University extend him a second chance. There are many loyal ISU soldiers in this category, and somehow an olive branch has to be extended to them. The administration may argue it is making this stance out of conviction, and in this case I happen to agree with them. That's all well and good, but the administration and athletic department do not live in a vacuum, either. They can't completely disregard the opinions of their loyal consumers and then expect to keep them.
Now, I'm of the belief that real and effective change can take place only after an honest assessment of how we got here in the first place occurs. The fans, boosters, and alumni that factor into that second group of Eustachy supporters should settle for nothing less than that in the aftermath of Eustachy's departure. I would strongly advise the administration and athletic department to be very proactive in this regard once the verbal shackles of this appeal are unhinged.
Many of you have very valid questions about how we got from Point A to Point B.
Many of you have very valid questions about why things were handled as they were.
Many of you are suspicious that you are not being told the full story.
Many of you are disappointed at the prospect of personal feelings getting in the way of what you think is best for ISU.
And you deserve answers to your questions when this over. You are ISU athletics, not the coach or athletic director. Sometimes those that hold those titles have to make decisions that on the surface seem disagreeable or reactionary. We have to trust their judgement. But we can only do that when they're willing to hold their decisions up to scrutiny.
(Steve Deace can be heard each Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. on 1460 KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network)