Johnny Orr came to
"It wasn't much fun at first because we were losing," Orr said. "I told assistant athletic director Steve Cox that I couldn't go out there like that to those cheers, and then get beat.
"He told me we wouldn't do it that night. I walked out there, and they played it. Finally, we won some games, and later on it was hard for anybody to beat us (at Hilton Coliseum)."
Orr turned a lifeless Cyclone program into a Big 8 contender, and more than doubled attendance figures. He finished his 14-year stint with a 218-200 record and five 20-plus-win seasons. His 218 wins are the most in school history.
also guided the Cyclones to six NCAA Tournament appearances and led ISU to the
Sweet 16 in 1986 when the Cyclones upset
also attracted some
But the on-court success was just a part of what made Orr popular. His charismatic persona left an indelible mark in Clone fan's hearts.
"He was as much of a personality as he was a coach," said Orr's longtime assistant Jim Hallihan. "Tim Floyd and Larry Eustachy were great coaches, but Coach Orr had the personality of a movie star. People were drawn to him."
came to ISU almost by accident. After leading
In the end, Orr took the ISU job and Frieder was named the Wolverines' head coach.
After three sub-.500 seasons, Orr's club earned an NCAA Tournament bid in 1985 where they lost to Ohio State in the first round.
That initial plunge into the tournament led to one of the biggest moments in program history the following season.
Jeff Hornacek hit a long jumper to beat
The Wolverines were ranked in the Top 5 entering the tournament, but Orr's club upset the Wolverines in front of 39,000 fans.
was my biggest win (at
"They were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation, and it was an awesome victory in front of 39,000 fans. That's the game that sticks out the most."
The revenge factor made the win even sweeter.
"I enjoyed that, although it was against my assistant coach (Bill Frieder)," Orr said. "It was a heartbreaking loss for him. It was a great day for me, but he was sick."
Cyclones lost to
several more successful seasons Orr retired after the 1994 season. Many thought
that Orr was tired and had health issues, but according to the coach it was a
feud with then-ISU President Martin Jischke, who arrived in
"I didn't want to (retire)," Orr said. "I had a lot of disagreements with (Jischke). I thought it was best not to be disappointed or negative and get out of it. I was 67, but health-wise I could still have coached. I could still coach now."
who is 79, still lives in
the summer Orr attends
also takes care of his wife of nearly 57 years, Romie. Romie was diagnosed with
Alzheimer's disease three years ago. The Orrs have also raised over half a
million dollars for Alzheimer's research. The couple has participated in
walkathons and golf tournaments and also testified in front of congress and have
participated in efforts in bringing a memory center to
said he loves
"When the 1984-85 team came back last year to be honored when they unraveled a banner with his name on it with the retired numbers in the rafters, the people went wild," Hallihan said. "He comes back and does work with Iowa Network Services, and he is still popular."