The Iowa basketball fans who have lost faith in Steve Alford should listen to Bill Rowe. "Steve is going to do a good job at Iowa,'' Rowe said. "He's too thorough a coach. He doesn't overlook anything.''
Rowe is in his 20th year as the athletic director at Southwest Missouri State. He took a chance on Alford in 1995, hiring him from a Division III coaching job at Manchester College, and never doubted he did the right thing.
"I'd love to have a son of mine playing for Steve,'' Rowe said. "I know his values. I know what he cares for. I know Iowa isn't winning all of its games this season, but I have every confidence in the world that he'll do well.'' On the other hand, Rowe said, "I wish we could have kept him a little longer because, candidly, he'd have matured more at our place. He would have had to undergo some of the things he's undergoing now at Iowa.
"In the bigger pond, it draws more limelight. But he had to go when he had the opportunity to go-and he wanted to go to the Big Ten.''
Alford's teams at Southwest Missouri State had records of 16-12, 24-9,16-16 and 22-11. His 1998-99 team made it to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Then Iowa came calling.
Rowe made his comments about Alford to me late in a 2001-2002 season that has been a huge disappointment for the Iowa coach, his players and Hawkeye fans. Iowa was expected to challenge for the Big Ten title and has been ranked as high as No. 9 nationally in Alford's third season. But the Hawkeyes finished the regular season with only a 16-14 record and they were a drab 5-11 in the Big Ten.
Fans have been brutal, accusing Alford of being in over his head in a conference that actually is having a "down'' season. Critics say the university oversold the coach and the coach oversold the players.
Unless the Hawkeyes can get their act together in a hurry this week and win the Big Ten postseason tournament for the second straight time, they'll wind up in the NIT-where few teams want to play-instead of the NCAA.
"Steve and I still talk weekly,'' Rowe said. "My wife talks to Steve's wife even more often than that.'' Rowe is well aware of the frustration Alford has gone through this season. "He mentioned to me a few weeks ago that they were going through a deal where ‘our younger players don't respect the older ones, and the older ones don't really care that they do,''' Rowe said.
"Steve said it's kind of a meshing right now that hasn't been working for Iowa. It's been an awkward deal with Luke Recker. He came from Indiana (and later Arizona) and wasn't in great shape at the beginning of this season because he'd had surgery.''
Critics have felt since the Big Ten season began that Iowa hasn't gotten the leadership needed from seniors Recker and Reggie Evans, and that Alford hasn't known how to handle the adversity.
But Rowe looks for better things in the future from Alford. "I know he has a good recruiting class signed for next year,'' Rowe said.
Rowe said Alford's name was referred to him by Eric Harmon, an official who had worked games in the Big Ten and other conferences.
"Harmon mentioned to me that he wanted to recommend Steve as a possible coach for us,'' Rowe said. "Steve was at Manchester then, and I didn't even know he was coaching because we don't get any Division III news in our area.''
The rest is history. Rowe hired Alford to succeed Mark Bernsen, who had a 48-37 record at Southwest Missouri after succeeding Charlie Spoonhour.
By the way, Alford's disinterest in returning to Indiana hasn't surprised Rowe.
"We had discussed that a lot,'' Rowe said. "His wife (Tanya) in particular wasn't high on going back to Indiana. Our team went up to play in Indiana's tournament one year, and it was an unreal deal. He was able to go nowhere without people stopping him, wanting this, wanting that, asking him to sign this and sign that. He had no peace at all.
"I'm not saying that, down the road, Steve might not want to coach at Indiana, but (his wife) preferred that he not follow Coach (Bobby) Knight. And Steve indicated that coaching at Indiana wouldn't be his first choice in the Big Ten.
"He loves Iowa City and is very devoted to University of Iowa basketball.''
Only Bob Knight Can Use Profanity Like Bob Knight
I've already made up my mind that I'm not going to like the made-for-TV movie "A Season on the Brink,'' but I want to point out that there will be two versions of it on premier night Sunday.
The unedited version of the movie will be shown on ESPN. Another version, with some of the salty language taken out or toned down, will be on ESPN2.
The movie is based on a book about Bobby Knight when he coached at Indiana. I've seen enough previews of it to draw the conclusion that actor Brian Dennehy can in no way portray Knight-regardless of how much swearing he does.
I'll watch the movie, but I'd rather watch replays of 25 of Knight's postgame press conferences instead.
Only Knight can be Knight.
Will Tim Floyd Be Arkansas' Next Coach?
Tim Floyd's name is being circulated as a possible replacement for Nolan Richardson, who was fired last week as Arkansas' basketball coach. Floyd, who had records of 23-11, 24-9, 22-9 and 12-18 from 1995-1998 at Iowa State, was dismissed earlier this season by the Chicago Bulls Make no mistake about it, Floyd would be a big hit at Arkansas. But it's only one of a number of collegiate opportunities he's going to get. Coaching basketball at the that level is something he does very well.
What Was That Guy Doing in Jayson Williams' Bedroom?
I always have a lot of questions. One on my mind today concerns the situation involving Jayson Williams, the former NBA player who has been charged with manslaughter in the death of Costas Christofi, 55.
Christofi was found shot to death in the master bedroom of Williams' home on a 65-acre estate in New Jersey.
My question: What was Christofi doing in Williams' bedroom?
An Award Ken Fuson Deserves
Veteran Register reporter Ken Fuson has won the 2001 Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing, and he deserves it. No one puts together words any better than Fuson. Besides, he's a good guy.
The New Look in Obituaries
One of the strangest obituaries I've seen in a while appeared in the morning paper last week. In it, there was this quote from someone who was familiar with the dead man: "He was a big man-he wore size 13 EEE shoes. I never met a man with a bigger heart.''
I hope that doesn't start a trend. The last thing I need to read in further obituaries are lines like these:
"They called him ‘Tiny,' but he was a big man-he wore size 60x40 bib overalls.''
"She was a small lady-she did her shopping in the children's clothing department. But she had a big heart.''
"He was only size 28 around the waist-but don't let that fool you. He was a big man when it came to cribbage.''
"She was a big lady-she never met an apple pie she didn't like. And the autopsy proved it.''
Vol. 2, No. 13
March 4, 2002
About the Author:
Ron Maly wrote and edited at the Des Moines Register for 39 years and 9 months. He somehow kept most of his sanity and some of his health during that time. He was voted Iowa's Sportswriter of the Year four times, won lots of Associated Press writing awards and a number of other writing awards that he can no longer remember.
He liked covering Rose Bowls and NCAA basketball tournaments, Woody Hayes and Hayden Fry, Dan McCarney and Johnny Orr, Maury John and Larry Eustachy, Bo Schembechler and Bobby Knight, Chuck Long and Fred Hoiberg, Willie McCarter and Dolph Pulliam.
But he also found time to write stories about a bar in Donnybrook, Ireland, churches in Russia and the home he grew up in at Cedar Rapids, Ia.
He had fun doing what he did, and he plans to continue writing occasionally about anything that interests him.
Ron Maly once had dinner with Bob Knight and some of his friends from Indiana at The Lark restaurant in Tiffin. Steve Alford was not present. Knight even authored a guest column for Maly in Ron's previous writing life. Now Knight is gone from Indiana, Maly has a new writing life and The Lark has burned down. But somehow life goes on. If you have anything on your mind about Knight, Alford, The Lark or anything else, e-mail Maly at firstname.lastname@example.org]