Outside the men’s room: Commemorative coin curse

By Kirk Haaland, Contributor I’m a Jamie Pollard fan. In his near five years of being in Ames, he has been in the limelight on many occasions making many bold proclamations, controversial decisions and coaching moves. While some of his coaching hires have turned out unsuccessful, it is difficult to argue that any of them were bad hires at the time with the information available. There are only a few mistakes that stand out in my mind over this time, though.

One of them being the curtain and the Iowa/ISU wrestling dual fiasco (I understand not moving the mat in order to avoid disenfranchising the season ticket holders but how hard would it have been to just lift the curtain, leave the mat, and sell more tickets? It should be noted there has been some notion that this was also a Cael Sanderson issue more than a Jamie Pollard issue), and the other being—you guessed it:

It was a goofy marketing ploy from Jump Street. In Gene Chizik’s case, this coin was issued before he ever even coached in a game. Have “Pop” Warner, Clay Stapleton, Johnny Majors, Earle Bruce, or Dan McCarney ever had a coin minted in their honor? Exactly. By the way, if you are offended by the omittance of Jim Walden from that list, there is other news from this week with him that I will mention later.

Both Chizik and McDermott were very new to the ISU athletic department and both were Pollard’s first two “splash” hires that were supposed to take us to the mountaintop. As it turned out, they were never able to scale the hillside in the southwest corner (or any corner for that matter) of Jack Trice Stadium. I’m not saying that these coins actually were the root of the failings for these coaches at ISU, but you just can’t ignore facts.

Surprise hire? Check. Impressive credentials? Check. Struggling start with signs of some promise? Check. Program spiraling downward after said promise? Check. Knights (Auburn & Creighton) on white horses storm into Ames to save the day? Check. Unbridled optimism after an initial successful season for the new coach? Pending.

So why do I bring this up, you ask? I bring this up because ISU has been an absolute PR machine since Jamie Pollard has ran the show as Athletics Director. Machine. If there has been an advantage to be gained through the media since the fall of 2005, Jamie Pollard has exploited it. Every time.

This has already been touched on by many, but with that guy called Fred coming into coach the basketball team and bringing that nickname—The Mayor—along with him, the marketing options will be absolutely endless. The ISU athletic department marketing staff is probably in overdrive as we speak gearing up for the summer promos for the basketball program. There’s already been plenty of message board chatter about changing the name of “Cyclone Alley” to “City Hall”, songs and videos being incorporated to Fred Hoiberg’s entrance to every game and cute naming rights throughout Hilton have already taken place on the message boards. Just please; don’t mint a coin with his picture on it.

Conference re-alignment heats up

I have no idea what will happen in all of this Big 10/Pac 10/every other BCS conference expansion talk. I think worst case scenario the Big 12 will lose Colorado (Pac 10), Nebraska (Big 10), and Missouri (Big 10). If that were to happen I would rank their replacements based off of geography (yes I think that matters), TV markets, and overall fit as such:

1. Arkansas – Not so likely to get the Razorbacks or any other SEC school.

2. BYU – Strong football and basketball programs over the past 10 years (arguably better than Colorado) and the Mormon fan base spread out across the country to help with the viability of enhanced TV contracts.

3. Louisville – Not a complete geographic reach with a tradition rich basketball program and a respectable football program.

4. Cincinnati – A lot of recent success in football under Brian Kelly and a very good basketball tradition (NCAA titles in 1961 and 1962).

5. Memphis – A strong basketball program and an underwhelming football program that in my mind would grow into respectability by becoming a member of the Big 12.

6. Boise State – You can’t argue with their football tradition on their level, as long as they get rid of the blue turf (by the way, does anyone else think Boise State gains an unfair camouflage advantage by playing on the blue field in blue uniforms?).

I have felt all along and still do that Texas is leveraging the threat of them leaving as a means to avoid revenue sharing in the Big 12. The great irony being that they would make more money in the Big Ten, a conference with more equal revenue sharing, yet they are opposed to it in the Big 12. Another question to ask is, do Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State really want a college football giant to deal with on an annual basis? As currently constructed, there are only two BCS bids available in a given conference, which makes it tough sledding for everybody.

Just an anecdotal observation: I find it strange that in the beginning conferences were formed on a regional basis by playing other schools that were within close proximity. Now though, conferences have realized that they can make the most money based off of the number of “TV sets” in their geographical footprint. Meaning that proximity now means nothing and the dollars do in fact mean everything.

Like I said, the fear of the unknown scares the ever-lovin’ crap out of me. Thank God we have such a great commissioner in Dan Beebe to handle all of this, right? Okay, thankfully we have Jamie Pollard, who is no doubt working his tale off to make the best of all of this for ISU.

The “Jim Walden” thing

In case you missed it—and you’re lucky if you did because I can’t imagine listening to a train wreck of a radio show with Jim Walden and Jim Zabel—and you probably did, Jim Walden had some interesting comments on the “Two Guys Named Jim” show on WHO 1040 on Sunday evening, regarding the hire of Fred Hoiberg.

To say that Jamie Pollard hiring a guy with zero coaching experience (he actually said ability, but that is an unknown at this point so I can only assume he meant to say experience) is a slap in the face to all coaches just came off like Walden is trying to protect the sacred cow. If anything, coaches should love it because when Fred fails (and he has to fail based off of no experience, right?) then it will only prove the value of experienced coaches. He also said that even Fred’s friends that are in coaching circles will want him to fail. Only to prove their worth, I suppose.

This is the point where I could steal the candy from the two-year old and rattle off insults about Walden and his coaching tenure at ISU, but I won’t. It’s entirely unrelated and honestly his administration was a huge obstacle that he couldn’t overcome. I’ll just go ahead and say this; Jim Walden’s thoughts on the matter are about as meaningless as they come. He mailed it in at the end of his tenure and received far more from ISU than ISU ever received from him.

Has anyone asked him yet what experience/ability he had in order to get his radio gig? I’ll go about my business in the coming weeks as I always have with his show (that he calls in to from his home in Washington), which is to say I still won’t be listening.