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Jamie Pollard Gets Thrown Out of a High School Basketball Game: A Love Story

The Iowa State athletic director just had a bad day. Happens to the best of us.

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Scene: A high school gym near Ames (Photo: David Shankbone)

Hebner_icon_medium TWEET
Hebner_icon_medium Foul on #45. Over the back.
Iconpollard_medium WHAT THAT'S A TERRIBLE CALL
Hebner_icon_medium Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to...
Hebner_icon_medium Wait, aren't you Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard?
Iconpollard_medium AREN'T YOU A STUPID POOP HEAD
Hebner_icon_medium I beg your pardon?
Hebner_icon_medium Well, I never...
Hebner_icon_medium I'm going to have to demand that you leave, sir
Iconpollard_medium FINE
Iconpollard_medium HILTON MAGIC
Iconpollard_medium MORE LIKE HILTON TRAGIC
Iconpollard_medium /throws down his cardigan sweater
Iconpollard_medium /walks out of gym
Iconpollard_medium /pulls fire alarm on the way out
Iconsexycop_medium /arrests Jamie Pollard, puts him in squad car
Iconsexycop_medium OK, Jamie. Why are you acting like this?
Iconpollard_medium Sadpollard_medium
Iconpollard_medium Because love is dead, Hot Cop. Love is dead.

Two months earlier, Jacobsen Athletics Building, Iowa State University

Iconpollard_medium And that's how a petty computer thief turned himself into a sympathetic figure. The end.
Hoiberg_medium That was a stupid stowy
Iconpollard_medium No it wasn't, Fred! It was a good story!
Hoiberg_medium The big mean puter wobber guy was afwaid of pwane wides? Pwease.
Iconpollard_medium It's the truth! ESPN said it's so!
Iconpollard_medium Now, if you sit tight, we'll read the story of the man who stopped coaching so that he could sell satellite dishes to his former assistants while they served three to fi...
Icondoor_medium KNOCK KNOCK
Iconronald_medium Excuse me, sir?
Iconpollard_medium Yes, what is it?
Iconronald_medium There's a caller on line one.
Iconpollard_medium Did you find out who it is?
Iconronald_medium That's the thing, Mr. Pollard. The man says he is...
Iconpollard_medium Who? Who?
Iconronald_medium Gene Chizik, sir.
Iconpollard_medium /sits up straight
Iconpollard_medium /clears throat
Iconpollard_medium Well,
Iconpollard_medium He's...he's probably calling to...congratulate us...on our new scoreboard.
Iconpollard_medium I'm sure that's what it is. Send the call in.
Iconronald_medium Are you sure, sir? The last time you talked to him, you spent the next month watching The Lake House on repeat.
Iconpollard_medium Yes, I'll be fine. Send the call in.
Iconpollard_medium /clears throat
Iconpollard_medium You can do this, Big Jam. You can do this.
Iconpollard_medium /pushes button for line 1
Iconpollard_medium Iowa State athletics! We're just like a little Texas, in that we had one hit in 1993 and now it's our coach! Jamie Pollard speaking!
Chizikicon_medium Jamie, it's Gene.
Iconpollard_medium Well, hi Gene!
Iconpollard_medium Get it? HYGENE!
Chizikicon_medium Yes, yes, Jamie. I always loved that joke.
Chizikicon_medium How are you?
Iconpollard_medium I'm fine, Gene. How have you been doing?
Chizikicon_medium Not too well, Jamie. Not too well. But it's good to hear your voice again.
Chizikicon_medium Tell me about your new scoreboard.

The ISU athletic director and former ISU head football coach have a long, friendly chat. After two hours, it ends. The next day...

Iconronald_medium Mr. Pollard, Gene Chizik again on line 1
Iconpollard_medium /deep breath
Iconpollard_medium Don't fall too fast, Jamie Boy. You always fall too fast. Take it slow.
Iconpollard_medium If you can't get him here, let it go. If he won't come to Ames, everyone will think you're pathetic.
Iconpollard_medium /deep breath
Iconpollard_medium /pushes button for line 1
Iconpollard_medium Iowa State athletics! Where University of Phoenix basketball players come for a second chance! Jamie Pollard speaking!
Chizikicon_medium Jamie, it's Gene again.
Iconpollard_medium HYGENE!
Chizikicon_medium LOL
Iconpollard_medium LOL
Chizikicon_medium Look, Jamie. I had a great time talking to you yesterday. I was hoping that maybe we could...oh, nevermind.
Iconpollard_medium Naw, Gene! Come on! Let me hear it.
Chizikicon_medium I was hoping... I was hoping maybe we could give us another chance.
Iconpollard_medium Well, Gene, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I've been thinking about it all day.
Iconpollard_medium I just have one concern.
Iconpollard_medium Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz prank call me all the time, and I'm worried that you might actually be them.
Chizikicon_medium What? No, of course I'm not them. We talked for an hour yesterday! How would they keep a prank going that long?
Iconpollard_medium I'm just saying, I need a sign that it's you.
Chizikicon_medium Fine. I'll email you a picture right now of me holding up our sign. Just a second...and...there.
Computericon_medium YOU HAVE MAIL
Iconpollard_medium /opens email


Iconpollard_medium Well, that's you with a sign reading MSMK --
Chizikicon_medium -- the Roman numeral for 5-19.
Iconpollard_medium Yes, yes it is.
Iconpollard_medium OK, Gene, let's give it a shot.
Iconpollard_medium When can you come to Ames?
Chizikicon_medium When can I...well, Jamie, I live in Alabama. I want to stay here. But I'm sure I can visit soon.
Iconpollard_medium I'm so happy!
Chizikicon_medium Me too, Jamie Poo. Me too.

The next few weeks passed quickly. Gene and Jamie talked every day for hours. They made plans for the future. Jamie wanted to hire Gene as defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting for a head coach in his 40s. Gene made plans to visit Ames three times, but every time something arose: There were cows on the runway of the Auburn airport, or Gene had to save the lives of some plants poisoned by Alabama fans, or he had to babysit the war eagle.

Eventually, news of the relationship got to the Ames press.


Breaking news out of Ames tonight: We can confirm that Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard is in negotiations to bring back former head football coach Gene Chizik in some sort of advisory role, potentially as a member of Coach Paul Rhoads' staff. Our intrepid old-timey cub reporter interviewed Pollard briefly.

Reportericon_medium Mr. Pollard, are you in negotiations with Gene Chizik?
Iconpollard_medium I'd rather call them 'talks'.
Reportericon_medium Has Chizik come back to Ames to meet with you?
Iconpollard_medium ...

Iconpollard_medium If he won't come to Ames, everyone will think you're pathetic.

Iconpollard_medium Yeah, he's come to visit me a few times, actually. We went hot air ballooning, and he met the president of the university. Wonderful visits.
Reportericon_medium What role is he going to play?
Iconpollard_medium That is still to be determined. He's my friend, though.

In late January, just after Gene had to cancel another visit to Ames because "Hope Floats" star Sandra Bullock was using the only airplane in Alabama -- "Sandra Bullock! Is she just like Birdee Pruitt?" Pollard had asked, assuming that Bullock was from Alabama and that everyone in Alabama knew each other -- Gene called with terrible news.

Iconronald_medium Gene Chizik on line 1
Iconpollard_medium /hurriedly pushes line 1
Iconpollard_medium HYGENE!
Chizikicon_medium Jamie, thank God you're there.
Chizikicon_medium I've been in a car accident!
Iconpollard_medium OH NO!
Chizikicon_medium Yes, it was horrible.
Iconpollard_medium Are you at the Alabama hospital?
Chizikicon_medium Yes, I'm at the Alabama hospital, and I'm going to be here for a long time.
Iconpollard_medium What happened? Did you break your leg?
Chizikicon_medium No, no. I didn't get seriously hurt in the accident, but they ran some tests while I was here, and they found that I have mad cow disease.
Iconpollard_medium OH NO!
Chizikicon_medium It's terrible, Jamie. They say I only have a month or two to live.
Iconpollard_medium But...but what about our plans?
Chizikicon_medium They're going to try some experimental treatment, so maybe it will go away
Iconpollard_medium What can I do?
Chizikicon_medium I need you to stay strong for me, Jamie. Strong and in Iowa.
Iconpollard_medium I can come see you! We have a bunch of planes in Iowa!
Chizikicon_medium No no no
Chizikicon_medium They don't allow visitors at the Alabama hospital.
Chizikicon_medium We'll talk every day still, though.

And talk every day they did. They would talk for hours, often falling asleep on the phone. Gene's condition deteriorated and he was mostly unable to talk after a few weeks, but Pollard still called. He would talk to Gene without audible response.

And then came Signing Day.

Iconpollard_medium Ah, Signing Day. A day full of hope.
Iconpollard_medium I've been so busy with Gene that I haven't even paid attention to who we are getting.
Iconpollard_medium /turns on television to ESPNU
Rece_davis_icon_medium Rece Davis here on National Signing Day, and Peyton Manning has somehow just signed with Ole Miss. We'll be monitoring this and all the other recruiting stories with our panel of experts, including former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik
Iconpollard_medium Jamie_stunned_medium
Rece_davis_icon_medium Boy, Guz Malzahn has really done a great job of recruiting since replacing your sorry ass, huh Gene?
Chizikicon_medium Well, we'd like to think we laid the groundwork for this class
Rece_davis_icon_medium HAHAHAHAHA no.
Rece_davis_icon_medium That does not fit the narrative, Gene.
Chizikicon_medium Well, we recruited most of these kids. In fact, a lot of them left after our staff was...
Iconronald_mediumMr. Pollard, Gene Chizik is on line 1.
Iconpollard_medium Jamie_mad_medium
Iconpollard_medium /pushes button for line 1
Iconpollard_medium Hello Gene.
Chizikicon_medium [raspy voice] Jamie! Hello! How are you today?
Iconpollard_medium I'm fine, Gene. [gnashes teeth]
Chizikicon_medium Oh, it's a good day. The mad cow isn't so bad today.
Iconpollard_medium Well, that much is obvious.
Chizikicon_medium What does that mean?
Iconpollard_medium I'm watching you on live television.
Chizikicon_medium Wait, what?
Iconpollard_medium I'm watching you on live television. You are on ESPNU.
Chizikicon_medium I am...on ESPNU
Iconbarta_medium ...right now.
Iconbarta_medium /covers receiver
Iconbarta_medium Shit!
Iconferentz_medium What the hell is an ESPNU?
Iconbarta_medium There's no way ESPN has Chizik on television.
Iconferentz_medium Call his bluff.
Iconbarta_medium Well -- [cough] [raspy voice] I mean, um, well, what am I doing on ESPNU?
Iconpollard_medium You're an analyst on their Signing Day Special.
Iconbarta_medium /covers receiver
Iconbarta_medium He says Chizik is on their Signing Day Special
Iconferentz_medium Really? It's Signing Day again already?
Iconferentz_medium I totally spaced that off.
Iconferentz_medium Did we even get any players?
Iconbarta_medium KIRK! FOCUS! What should we do?
Iconferentz_medium Kill him off. Kill him off now.
Iconbarta_medium Well, Jamie [cough], this mad cow is really getting bad. This is probably it for me.
Iconbarta_medium [cough] Good bye, Jamie.
Iconpollard_medium Go to hell, Gary.
Iconpollard_medium Sadpollard_medium

Iconpollard_medium /is inconsolable

Back in the police car

Iconpollard_medium So that's why I did what I did. Can I go home now?
Iconsexycop_medium You pulled a fire alarm in a crowded gym. I can't just let you get away with that.
Iconsexycop_medium Come on. Let's head to the county jail.
Iconsexycop_medium Fred can bail you out.
Iconsexycop_medium He's already there on a recruiting visit.