Q: You've been a high school coach, your relationship with high school coaches in this state, do you try to cultivate that?
Todd Lickliter: I would love to. Coaches at all levels have a lot to offer. I don't mind giving. I like to give, but I'll also receive. If I have the opportunity to cultivate relationships and learn from those high school coaches... it's not just about recruiting. It's about the relationships, the enjoyment I have of the game. I don't think there's anybody that loves the game more than high school coaches. There are a lot of great AAU coaches that do it for the love of the game and there are other college coaches. My best friend in the business is an NAIA coach out of Northern Indiana. We spent a lot of time talking, I have another great friend that's a Division III coach. They can't help me recruit, but they can help me, and I really appreciate that. We'll do ti the same way, and if cultivating those relationships leads to better recruiting,m we'll accept that too.
Q: Gary, was the time line about what you expected?
Barta: I didn't pinpoint a date. I set out, I had a process I needed to take, but I had to make sure I went through each step before I went on the next one. Some of them happen at the same time, obviously. It surprised me that we left his car back in Atlanta. Some of you trailed a plane that took us home last night. I didn't know that we'd return with a coach from the Final 4. But I didn't eliminate the possibility. I was looking for the right coach. When the right time came and it was time to make the offer, we knew that the outcome was the most important thing. Finding the right person was the most important thing. Once we knew we had that, I called President Fethke, he came to Atlanta, we made the offer, and that ended the process.
Lickliter: May I say this, they didn't have to offer twice (laughs) Secondly, I'm not going to leave my car there, I am going to retrieve it at some point.
Q: What influence would you say your father was on you? What age did you think you'd be getting into it as a professional?
Lickliter: I don't think I could put into words what influence my father was on me. It wasn't just my father, it was my mother. My father coached from the time I was 5 years old. I didn't think I ever thought you could do anything else. Once I realized I wasn't going to be able to play the game... once a college coach told me, "You're the worst athlete ever to play division I." At that point I thought maybe I won't be able to play at the next level. (laughs) It was a natural sort of thing to go into coaching for me. I saw the influence my father had in a positive way. I guess selfishly I wanted to have that too. I had former players call me today congratulating me, and I don't know that there's anything more gratifying than that.
Q: What's your relationship with the other coaches in Iowa?
Lickliter: Greg McDermott, we played him when he was the coach at Northern Iowa and I was at Butler, utmost respect for him.
Q: Does Iowa basketball have what it needs to get to where it needs to be?
Lickliter: I think there's a tremendous commitment to it. As I said before, I don't think this is a "football school" i think this is a school that has a tremendous football program. I was able to meet Kirk today and I was incredibly impressed. I see why. It isn't alone. The programs throughout this department have been successful. If you can have success in one program, why can't you have success in another? If Florida and Ohio State are football schools, I'll take that label.
Q: Have you talked to Barry and guys who have left Butler before you about making that jump and what it's like?
Lickliter: We talk about just about everything, to be honest with you. I'm sure that's come up, the differences and all, there are differences. I don't think you can say one's good and one's bad. It's how you perceive it at the time. I think a lot has to do with the institution. There are institutions that might be perceived or might be in the BCS that I might stay at Butler and not go. Iowa wasn't that one. Iowa has the ingredients I was looking for in a school of this size. It's in what I think is the best conference, ti's a wonderful conference. I saw this as a very special situation.
Lickliter: There was a lot of praise for what our guys did, but more importantly, the reaction in our locker room was, "Who's next?" That's why we were able to do it. We had a couple players say after the Florida game, "We didn't come to scare them, we came to win." That's the only way you're going to be able to come in and compete at that level. Our guys believed in what we did and believed in themselves and I believed in them. The results are as you mentioned. Hopefully that will be in the same mindset here.
Q: What was your message to the players?
Lickliter: It wasn't anything earth-shattering. I just wanted to introduce myself. This wasn't something they expected, and this is part of life. Things change. How we respond to change will determine a great deal of how we live. I just wanted to let them know who I was and give them my phone number, let them know we'd be in close contact, encourage them to meet all the responsibilities in the classroom, work out, and tell them I'm looking forward to it. I've heard nothing but great things about these guys.
Q: Were you approached by any other schools this off-season?
Lickliter: There's confidentiality in these things. You know what? Iowa was the one that I spoke to first. I don't think I spoke to anybody else and I moved forward on it. Gary moved forward and it seems like a moot point. I don't know, maybe if everybody came calling, this is where I'd want to be, in my opinion.
Q: What is your time line as far as coming here?
Lickliter: I'm here. My car's in Atlanta. We're going to balance that. I'm going to be here just as much as I possibly can. There are some traveling, a recruiting period will open here on Thursday then reopen in another week. We'll be in and out. I want to get settled in. My wife was out today looking at homes. Iowa City is home, and we're going to get here as soon as we possibly can. Me first, then she'll come when it's possible.
Q: Iowa signed 3 HS seniors this past season, have you had a chance to speak with any of them?
Lickliter: I have not. I wanted to wait until we completed some of the formalities and some of the things we did. I told these players that two thoughts were on my mind. That was to speak with the guys that committed to Butler and to speak to the guys that committed to Iowa. They're here. They're upholding this tradition. I wanted to speak with them first. That's not to say the guys who aren't here yet who have committed haven't done so also, but we will speak with them.
Q: What did you tell the guys at Butler?
Lickliter: Unfortunately, I had to tell the goodbye. That's all I can say. They're a great group and I think they committed to Butler. It's a great school and it's the right place for them. I wish them much success. Just like I told the team last night, I hope they have even a better year next year. I'll always pull for Butler, unless we're playing them.
Q: One of the kids that committed to Iowa, you recruited. Would that give you an advantage in retaining him?
Lickliter: I don't think there'll be any problem. I'd be speaking out of turn, I think we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Q: In your discussions with Gary, did a practice facility come up?
Barta: I said it'd be done next week, do you think we'll be OK?
Lickliter: I thought you said a month? He's pushing it. He did. I trust that it's going to happen. They've already made progress that way. I've come from a situation, we've talked about the success we've had, Iowa's had success, we can share. Until we get this practice facility, I can't wait for it, it'll eliminate some problems. But until then, it doesn't hurt to make some sacrifices. There's one basketball and five guys will share it. We can share this facility and still accomplish what we want. I'm still glad they have the resources and commitment to build a practice facility, we're going to be thankful for that.
Q: (A question about when you need to know who's going to stay with the team, who's still coming, etc)
Lickliter: Yesterday. (laughs) I think if anybody has had a change of heart they need to let us know. I'm anticipating anyone who's committed coming to Iowa. As long as we agree you're going to come here and meet your responsibilities, be a part of the Iowa program, be a good teammate, and earn your degree, I anticipate everybody being with us. The recruitment will be for 08.
Q: Gary, do you remember when you popped the question and Todd said yes?
Lickliter: BARTA It is kind of like getting married. But I remember, I'll tell you, my wife and I dated for a year then were engaged for a year. I didn't have any time to pull out of this marriage. I'm sorry, go ahead and finish your question
Q: Do you remember what the first words out of your mouth were when he said yes?
Barta: I honestly don't remember, but I remember the anticipation of when we got ready for that last visit. President Fethke was there and I was so certain at this moment. I told you about the first two pieces of the puzzle, the winning and the academic commitment, I knew about that, over the course of the weekend, I became more and more convinced that the fit was perfect. That came in not only visiting with Todd, but in visiting with some other coaches, that it was the right fit. As soon as he said yes, I probably asked if he'd be willing to leave his car in Atlanta and fly back with me
Lickliter: And I said, "What car?"
Q: Did you get a chance to talk with Thad Matta?
Barta: I talked with a lot of coaches, but I never talked with anybody about who I was visiting with. As you know, our process stayed very confidential. The only way I could do that was not talk with people about with whom I was talking. Sometimes I'd have conversations and sometimes I 'd talk about 4 or 5 people and get their opinion on those 4 or 5 and in the mix might have been one of the candidates I was talking to. I did talk with Coach Olson, I did talk with Coach Nelson, BJ was obviously on our search commitment. By the way, I want to thank all of our search committee for the help they gave, our president, our administration. I'm going to leave the people I talked with, other than the two I just mentioned, leave that where it is.
Q: Some people might ask, "Why leave?" Indiana guy, Butler grad, is the time just right, or is it the situation?
Lickliter: Iowa Hawkeyes. I just couldn't turn it down. I believe in them. They say, "once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye." I'll always be a Hawkeye now. I'm just thrilled with this opportunity and what this presents. As I said, I wouldn't leave Butler for just anywhere. I just think there's great opportunity here. I'm honored, I'm flattered and thankful for being named the coach. If I could take one liberty, if I may, and just say that I have two sons at home and I want to just say that you'll love it here and I'll get you here soon..