Who Are the "Realistic" Candidates?

You've probably heard a lot of names connected with the Iowa coaching search this week. But which ones are "realstic" targets. HawkeyeInsider.com Publicher Rob Howe takes a look at who he believes might be the Top 5 coaches Iowa might have interest in and the best shot to land.

IOWA CITY, Ia. - One of the most interesting discussions related to Iowa's search for a new men's basketball coach is the debate separating "realistic" candidates from those viewed as "dreams." Opinions vary greatly.

A lot of grey area exits here, which usually makes for the best wrangling. None of us really knows the answer. Athletics Director Gary Barta may not know, although he has the best handle on it.

A lot of what goes into a search is research. We're not privy to Barta's exploration, at least not until the new man is hired.

We don't know what Barta will pay a candidate. We don't know what other incentives might be.

We don't know how a given candidate "really" feels about his current job as opposed to what he might say in public. We don't know how a given candidate views Iowa.

We could go on and on about what we don't know and also locate a reason for almost all candidates as to why they don't fit. Welcome to a coaching search.

I've reported on one of these in football (Kirk Ferentz) and three in basketball (Steve Alford, Lisa Bluder, Todd Lickliter). Two were expected. Two came out of the blue.

So, who knows? These things are fluid and they need to play out, even though that creates anxious times for fans and media.

I've found it best to dig as deep as I can and have fun with it. Think of the possibilities.

In that vain, I'll take a look at who I believe are the Top 5 most "realistic" candidates, meaning there would be mutual interest (listed from least to most likely):

5. Jamie Dixon: The current Pittsburgh coach makes $1.4 million a year. Iowa certainly could sweeten that and move him from inside the Steele City sports section to the front page of it in the state of Iowa. Let's keep an eye on how the Panthers do in this tournament. This guy has moved to the top of my wish list after hearing this week that Bruce Pearl wasn't going to listen.

4. Josh Pastner: He's already come out and said he's happy at Memphis, where he's only been the head honcho for one year. From speaking with some folks, I think this rising star might be comfortable enough with the Tigers to rebuild and wait for what he views is a better job.

3. Keno Davis: I probably would have slotted the son of Iowa's all-time winningest coach higher than this to start the week, but I'm hearing he likes how things are moving forward at Providence. That could be a smoke screen.

2. Brian Gregory: Tom Izzo's former assistant at Michigan State might be ready to take the next step in his head coaching career. He's been up and down with the Fliers but the pedigree is there.

1. Tony Barbee: The John Calipari offshoot has succeeded at UTEP and recruited well wherever he's been. He's high on Iowa's list, boasts an impressive resume and is a native of Indianapolis. I think he jumps at a chance to run a Big Ten program.

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