Almost a month after Billy Taylor took the Elon job, Kirk Speraw has announced his retirement. While it doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise from an age & experience standpoint - he’s 63 and been around the game the last 43 seasons - it certainly caught me off guard as he’s felt like such a mainstay on Fran McCaffery’s staff.
Before joining McCaffery’s initial staff, Speraw had a successful career as a head coach of Central Florida. He rebuilt the Knights after 10 seasons of sub-.400 ball and had them in the tournament 4 times over the 12 seasons he led them in the Atlantic Sun. A transition to Conference USA saw the success dwindle, though, transitioning from a rocky five years to the job he’s now retired from.
Speraw is a life-long Hawkeye, growing up in Sioux City and walking on for the Hawkeyes during Lute Olson’s tenure. He lettered twice, including Iowa’s most recent Big Ten regular season championship (1979). The following season he joined Lute’s staff as a grad assistant, when they went to the Final Four behind Ronnie Lester’s gutty tournament run.
Between his grad assistant season and UCF tenure, Speraw spent time at Denver, Florida Southern, Pensacola Junior College, and Florida. His retirement will surely allow him more time to spend with his wife and four children. He had this to say in Iowa’s press release:
I was fortunate that Coach Olson gave me my start in coaching here at the University of Iowa and I am grateful that Coach McCaffery and Gary Barta brought me back to my alma mater to finish my coaching career with a Big Ten championship,” Speraw said. “I want to thank my wife, Tracy, and our four kids (Drew, Brooke, Dustin, Bailey) for their support and patience throughout my coaching career. And I want to thank all the student-athletes that I have had the honor to coach throughout my career. Go Hawks!
Unlike Taylor’s departure, there exists no clear front-runner for the job like the newly minted assistant, Courtney Eldridge. Iowa’s staff is likely to get decidedly younger, simply due to Speraw’s age, and names which immediately stick out are alums like Jeff Horner (Truman State head coach), Dean Oliver (Wisconsin assistant), or Matt Gatens (Drake assistant). All three would align with Speraw’s main responsibility of perimeter-oriented players. Maybe Andrew Francis returns from Berkeley? In the release, there was no assignment as to whether Al Siebert (director of basketball operations) or Kyle Denning (assistant director of basketball operations) might backfill the current responsibilities.
For a full-time hire, there is also the possibility of Fran digging into his Rolodex to find someone who could serve as a defensive coordinator of sorts and/or have some prior head coaching experience, which has typically been the case for McCaffery assistants.
Congratulations to Coach Speraw!