A day after being spurned by Shaka Smart, the Minnesota Golden Gophers appear to have acquired their next target to go after for their vacant head coaching position. According to ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis and their two unnamed sources, the vacant Gophers’ head coaching job is Iowa State head coach Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg‘s if he wants it. The main portion of that report is the final four words: if he wants it.
Both of the unnamed sources from the report said that Gophers Athletic Director Norwood Teague has spoken with Hoiberg and told him that every amenity from a practice facility, more access to private jets, etc. is guaranteed if he accepts the job. However, one of the sources said it’s 75/25 that Hoiberg won’t leave Iowa State for another college job. This should not be surprising because Hoiberg played for Iowa State from 1991 to ’95 and returned to coach at his alma mater in 2010. The Cyclones were 16-16 in Hoiberg’s first season and then improved to 23-11 and 23-12 the past two years, showing steady improvement during his tenure. Many analysts and coaches around the nation have lauded Hoiberg for his innovative offensive system, which Hoiberg credits Flip Saunders as the source for his system.
I have said from the beginning that Flip Saunders is my preferred choice and that he will bring in the most talented recruits to the Gophers’ program, namely Tyus Jones. Saunders can also sell the angle that he can get recruits to the NBA because of his established coaching career in the league and his connections within it. Hoiberg is definitely a very talented basketball coach and offensive mind, but remember where Hoiberg got his offensive system from: Saunders.
Hoiberg may be a very attractive candidate, but that doesn’t mean he is the right man for the job. Saunders may not be the sexy hire, but he is definitely the right one in my opinion and I cannot see another realistic option available that the Gophers can hire. The longer this search drags on, the greater the chance Saunders bolts for an administrative position in the NBA. It seems like the coaching search has been whittled down to Hoiberg, Buzz Williams, Saunders, Brad Stevens, Chris Mack, Anthony Grant and Andy Enfield. From that list, I don’t believe Stevens and Williams can be had. Out of the remaining candidates, Saunders still stands above the remaining field.
Stop looking for the trendy, sexy or young hire and make the right choice, Mr. Teague. Hire one of us, a homegrown player, an alumnus and former NBA coach, Mr. Saunders.