Howe: Checking in on the Iowa Coaching Search

After Gary Barta held his press conference Friday, you got the feeling you wouldn't see him again until he hired a men's basketball coach. That's created a lot of rumor and speculation about his targets. Senior Writer Rob Howe joins the party with what he has heard on the search.

When Gary Barta conducted his press conference on Friday, he played his cards very close to the vest. When asked if he'd be going after a sitting head men's basketball coach, the Iowa AD didn't even give a hint as to if that might be the case.

Barta pointed out that he would prefer a coach with head coaching experience, and extensive time in that position if possible.

I really got the feeling that Barta was juiced about this opportunity to make his mark on the University of Iowa. And, his journey to find his new employee would be done privately with I's dotted and Ts crossed.

Barta's desire to keep this search process under wraps has led to the reporting of suspicions, hearsay, and second- and third-hand information being distributed in order to quench the curiosity of the Hawkeye fans.

Expect that to be the course for the rest of this run. The next time you hear or read anything significant from Barta will be when he's at the podium introducing his new guy.

Well, if that's what we're left to do, I might as well throw out what I'm hearing in regards to the Iowa men's program:

*Bruce Pearl clearly has emerged as the favorite among Hawkeye fans and many in the media, but as of Monday, the Tennessee coach had not been contacted by Iowa.

I don't find this to be too odd as Barta may still be getting his ducks in a row before lobbing out contact calls.

I'm pretty sure Pearl would take the call if contacted, but I'm not sure if that would be due to true interest in the Iowa gig or a desire to pump up his pay with the Vols. Remember, he is third fiddle at that school.

*Rick Majerus is a name being thrown out there, and this hasn't been the first name the big guy as been mentioned for coaching vacancies.

I think Majerus has some interest in listening if the Hawkeyes called. Again, this could be a guy having difficulty in saying bye to coaching or a sincere interest in Iowa.

It would make sense in that he would be close to his ailing mother in Wisconsin. Majerus has always been complimentary of the Iowa fans and program and he knows he'd be a BMOC here.

*Dana Altman seems to be the safest bet among people trying to call the horse that's going to win this race. You can obviously see why.

It really doesn't come down to money, as Altman makes excellent coin in Omaha and he's not only the only game in town, but in the state.

I hear he has interest, but I've heard that before as it relates to Illinois and other openings. I know the Illini wanted him to keep an assistant from the previous staff, but I don't know if that was the deal killer. I think it was more that Altman got cold feet over leaving such a good thing that he has.

I'll go out there and say that Altman is not the guy.

*Chris Lowery, for me, fits the bill for Iowa if Barta fails to land the big fish. He's a system guy that will work at Iowa much like Dr. Tom was a system guy that worked at Iowa. Lowery's teams play suffocating defense, something the Hawkeyes did well when Steve Alford succeeded. It's something they'll need to continue to do because it's not realistic to think they'll recruit with the top teams in the country.

I'm going to go out on the limb and see this is the guy that ends up at Iowa.

Lon Kruger could be a wild card in this. I'm told he would listen if Iowa calls. It seems like UNLV folks wouldn't mind if he left with Reggie Theus waiting in the wings. He has to be on Barta's radar. The guy might not stay for long, but he wins…in college, at least.

*Other names to keep an eye on would be Kevin Stallings, Mike Montgomery, Lorenzo Romar, Jay Wright, Theus and Gregg Marshall.

-Stallings seems to fit, but I'm not sure how much he excites the fans. I think he'll get a look.

-Montgomery could be another wild card. Barta holds West Coast connections and he can offer enough money to get MM to listen. Yeah, he's 61, but he's a real good coach that proved he can win at an academic school with very good, but not great talent.

-Barta played a role in getting Romar to Washington, but I'm not sure much else fits here. Wright and Theus would like the money, but not sure either fits.

-I like Gregg Marshall, a lot. But I liken him a lot to Altman in that he is pretty comfortable where he is located. I still make the call.

*In a related note…I first thought that Tyler Smith was a sure bet to bolt after Alford and Neal skipped town. Now, I'm not so sure. I'm hearing that Tyler isn't real keen on sitting out a year and is waiting to meet the new coach.

Smith likes it at Iowa and enjoys his teammates. He also wouldn't need to re-establish himself and would be the No. 1 option no matter who comes in.

*I'm told Barta did a really nice job selling his vision for a new coach and gained the confidence of the holdovers and recruits. I don't see any guys leaving and I think there's an excellent chance that Jake Kelly ends up here. Dairese Gary still needs grades, but also might stick with his commitment. Jarryd Cole seems like the likeliest to ask out, but from talking with him, I think he can be won over, especially because he seems to have bonded with guys on the Iowa team.

*I was watching the Steve Alford to New Mexico press conference on Friday from press row at Carver when a few Hawkeyes strolled in. I asked if they wanted to watch it with me and they all declined. As far as I could tell, none of them watched it, but they had arranged to work out together and scrimmage.

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