It's possible that had Iowa won three of it's remaining 7 games, games where they were clear cut favorites, I wouldn't be writing this. Or, had Iowa beat Northwestern and advanced at least to the second round of the NCAAs, I wouldn't need to write this. But, alas, they did not. Speculation abounds as to what went wrong for the Hawkeyes down the stretch. I increasingly wonder if we didn't have a Zach McCabe freakout problem. After all, once the tweet came in after the gut wrenching loss to Wisconsin, the game in which McCabe inexplicably took the final shot despite Josh Oglesby being on complete and total fire from all over the court, especially in the second half, Iowa went into a total tailspin. That's likely an oversimplification, but that's par for the course on a fanpost. We then learned the weight under which Fran was coaching and with his family style meals approach it is not hard to believe that the players were not somewhat distracted as well.
All of this is to suggest that Fran built a very nice team in a very short time, and was "this close" to doing special things well ahead of schedule. But, that's on the court. Off the court Fran did his job and then some. Iowa basketball is making money again, and not just a little. This is no small issue. There are ACC basketball schools that make less profit annually than Iowa (a school where football and wrestling are more important to the self-esteem structure of the athletic department) and this is where Gary Barta needs to be careful.
I read today that Tony Bennett has signed an extension and received a raise, and is now making more than Fran McCaffery. This should get the attention of Fran's agent to be sure. I fully expect faxes were written today, or will be soon. Why? Because Virginia should not be paying their successful coach more than does Iowa. It is a program that earns, in even its best years, less profit than Iowa does in slightly above average years. There is no doubt that Tony Bennett had a great year at Virginia and is deserving of his extension and raise, and this post is not a slight toward Tony at all. Like Iowa, they are coming off some specious hires and they've found their guy to grow old with and they want to make sure he's wearing his ring to bed each night. And, it is not as if Tony Bennett is making tons more in 2014-15 than Fran. But, one could easily use today's news about Tony's good fortune to surmise that Fran maybe is becoming underpaid, and at a school that has arguably had an overpaid head coach in football for closing in on a decade, one has to ask what Barta is doing here.
Fran is undergoing more than his fair share of personal tumult with his son's cancer. The last thing he wants to bring into his life and that of his family's, I assume, is more chaos and uncertainty that would obviously accompany any change right now. Moreover, it's unlikely that Fran is being recruited. But, is this something that an AD should exploit or toy with? Yes, a contract is a contract is a contract. But, we all know that the only time contracts are strictly honored and adhered to is when a coach is running in place. If he's floundering you buy him out and move along and if he's building up and succeeding you lock him down and get him to the market rate. The Tony Bennett contract suggests to me what Fran should be making, at minimum. Virginia is going to go backward next year, they were beaten by Iowa the year before last. Bennett had a singular year in a downish year in the ACC (he'll have more good years, but let's not act like Virginia is now Wisconsin). Iowa is likely to do as well as they did last year, and could very well do better (I think they will do better record wise). Fran is likely to be in a far better space emotionally, familialy, and that could lead to results that suggest he's even MORE underpaid by end of season next year.
So, all this is to say that I hope Barta doesn't fuck this up. I'm perpetually concerned about the dude's strategy.