In the team’s first bona-fide coaching search since 1979, could the Jazz turn to a “mayor” to fill the vacancy?
Iowa State men’s head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, also known as “The Mayor” by his fans, players and his own twitter handle (@ISUMayor32,) has been mentioned by numerous media outlets as a potential candidate to fill one of many vacant head coaching positions in the NBA. Though only faintly connected to the Jazz via a tweet from Jody Genessy, who covers the Jazz for the Deseret News, Hoiberg is a logical candidate to whom the Jazz front office should give serious consideration.
Hoiberg’s credentials compare favorably to other potential candidates who currently lack NBA head coaching experience. After a lauded collegiate career at Iowa State, Hoiberg put together a journeyman’s career in the NBA, compiling 10 seasons hoisting threes for the Pacers, Bulls and Timberwolves. Hoiberg had surgery in June 2005 for a serious heart condition and joined the Timberwolves coaching staff. In April 2006, Hoiberg formally announced his retirement and took a front office position with the Timberwolves.
Four years later, “The Mayor” returned to Ames, Iowa to take over for the departing Greg McDermott as head coach of the Cyclones. In his four years at Iowa State, including his inaugural 2010 campaign which saw only four players return to the team, Hoiberg has never had a losing record, and boasts an impressive 90-47 overall record.
Hoiberg has numerous qualities that make him likely to be highly sought after by NBA teams. At only 41 years of age, Hoiberg has a decade of playing experience, front office experience and four years of demonstrated success as a head coach. His up-tempo, three-point heavy offense meshes well with the prevailing offensive sentiment in the NBA. Though the Jazz probably don’t possess the three-point shooting prowess at this point to run a Hoiberg-style offense at maximum efficiency, the thought of a world-class finisher like Alec Burks and freakish athlete like Jeremy Evans operating in a fast-paced offense is certainly a tantalizing one. In addition to the general overall offensive philosophy, Hoiberg’s thick playbook he liberally dips into throughout the season indicates an advanced offensive mind. He runs as close to a pro-style offense as can reasonably run in the NCAA, exactly why Hoiberg’s name has been bandied about with such frequency.
Though he already has a lengthy and diverse portfolio of basketball knowledge and experience, at 41, Hoiberg is young enough to grow along with a young NBA team. His age, quite young compared to most other NBA coaches, as well as recent experience mentoring college athletes could make it easier for younger roster members to relate to him. If dozens of videos and articles that feature the 2013-14 Iowa State squad are any indication, Hoiberg has done a superb job of building iron-clad camaraderie within the Cyclone locker room. Hoiberg’s rapport with his squad is excellent, as ringing an endorsement of his people and communication skills as there is.
As tantalizing the thought of Hoiberg taking the reins of the Jazz is, his ties to Iowa State aren’t easily broken. The son of an Iowa State sociology professor, Hoiberg grew up within walking distance of Hilton Coliseum. He received his nickname as a player at Iowa State after his popularity led to him getting numerous write-in votes in the 1993 Ames mayoral race. The beloved son of Ames is also contractually tied to Iowa State for the foreseeable future after signing a 10-year, $20 million extension in 2013. If ever there were a coach inextricable from a non-powerhouse university in Smalltown, USA, it’s Hoiberg.
There is a faint glimmer of hope for fans and GMs hoping to lure Hoiberg to the NBA. Hoiberg’s contract has a $2 million buyout clause if Hoiberg accepts another college coaching job. However, the buyout is whittled down to $500,000 if Hoiberg bolts Ames for an NBA head coaching gig. While this is no guarantee Hoiberg will be barking orders from an NBA arena in the 2014-15 season, the existence of the reduced buyout amount appears to indicate that Hoiberg would be interested in calling the shots for an NBA team in the right situation.
With the perfect blend of experience, youthful exuberance and potential, Fred Hoiberg will more than likely be contacted for interviews by multiple teams during the hiring process. However, between the mutual love and adoration between Hoiberg and Iowa State combined with the lack of confirmed connection between Hoiberg and the Utah Jazz head coaching position, Hoiberg is a fringe candidate for the time being.