The Steve Prohm era has officially come to an end. His 6 years at Iowa State are best described as a roller coaster at Adventureland. His first year he led Iowa State to a 23-12 record and a Sweet 16 appearance followed by a Big 12 Tournament Championship the next season. But then the roller coaster dropped fast and made our stomachs flip with a 13-18 record. We started to believe again as the roller coaster shot up and gave us a great view of Altoona with a 23-12 record and another Big 12 Tournament Championship. But sadly the ride came to a screeching halt and was stuck on the track. Coach Prohm would finish the last 2 seasons with a dismal 14-42 record.
Good news… there is nowhere to go but up. We reached out to the Tailgate Society (TGS) crew and asked some of them to decide on who they would pick as the next Iowa State coach if they were the Iowa State Athletic Director. Read the picks below.
Dwayne Stephens, Michigan State, Associate Head Coach
For the next coach at Iowa State, I wanted a fresh start. Someone with no direct ties to Iowa State, a lot of coaching experience in the regular season and deep tournament runs, and recruiting and development of future NBA players. That is why I selected Dwayne Stephens who has been coaching and recruiting at Michigan State for over 20 years. I understand that he may eventually leave us for Michigan State when Tom Izzo retires, but man I would love his head coaching start at Iowa State.
John Beilein, Former Head Coach (Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia & Michigan)
John Beilein has coached at multiple levels of college basketball and has won everywhere he has coached. Beilein won conference titles at mid-majors Canisius and Richmond, along with two Big Ten titles at Michigan. At West Virginia, his Mountaineers reached the Elite 8, and at Michigan, his Wolverines were the National Runner Up twice (2013, 2018). Beilein has three thirty-win seasons under his belt, a far cry from the two-win season in Ames in 2021.
Many will cite Beilein’s age (68) as too old to rebuild a program, but his coaching ability, track record, and ability to recruit and develop NBA-caliber players is exactly what Iowa State needs for a hard and fast rebuild. John was named the 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year and the 2018 CBS Sports National Coach of the Year. The only thing missing on his resume is a National Championship, so why not let him try to finish his career on top at Iowa State?
Jeff Hornacek, Former Head Coach (Phoenix Suns, NY Knicks) – Former Iowa State Cyclone
I know, I know. Jeff Hornecek is a completely out-of-the-box idea, but hey, that worked out for the last former Cyclone and NBA sharpshooter we brought in. Jeff had an amazing NBA career and has had some great coaching mentors in the past. Serving on Jazz coach Jerry Sloan’s staff early on, gave him an insight into one of the top NBA coaches of this era. Followed by his stint with Cotton Fitzsimmons former Suns coach, Hornecek certainly has the chops to handle player development and shows a path to young stars to get to the NBA. Hornecek’s record with the Suns in his first head coaching experience saw him improve their record by 23 games his first year and finish second for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014 who he lost to 3-time winner Gregg Popovich. Although his time has ended there and we can discount his coaching stint as the Knicks coach, simply because that team is terrible and has ruined even the great Phil Jackson.
Jeff is right in the medium for a good age of a coach looking to stay in a place for the long haul, would be coming home, and knows what it’s like to recapture the Hilton Magic days again that he enjoyed under Johnny Orr. Crazier things have happened.
TJ Otzelberger, UNLV, Head Coach
There are more accomplished coaches on this list, but none who is a better fit at Iowa State. If you know Cyclone basketball, you know Otz. He’s been an assistant in Ames under each of the last three head coaches, and he played a major role in landing recruits like Craig Brackins, Diante Garrett, Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang, Naz Long, and Matt Thomas. He’s married to a Cyclone women’s basketball great, he’s close friends with Jamie Pollard, and all signs point to him wanting to come to Ames and stay for a long time. Oh, and he’s 43 years old. If this works out, he could be what many expected Fred Hoiberg to be: a great coach in cardinal and gold for decades to come.
No one else has proven that they can recruit talent to come to Iowa State like Otzelberger. In fact, Otz has the #16 recruiting class in the nation poised to join him at UNLV – a middle-of-the-pack Mountain West program. While he hasn’t found on-court success at UNLV yet, he made two NCAA Tournaments from the Summit League at his last head-coaching stop at South Dakota State. Imagine what kind of talent he can bring to a team in the Big 12, especially if he can restore Hilton Magic and the days of beating Kansas, winning conference tournaments, and making Sweet 16s – or more.
Otz is the best candidate for this team and this moment, and I look forward to welcoming him back to the sideline in Hilton Coliseum.
(Editor’s note: Since this was piece was written, two tweets have come out on Tuesday evening. Follow @tgatesociety on Twitter for ongoing gif reaction to the ongoing situation.)