BASKETBALL

Iowa basketball: Iowa, McCaffery agree to four-year extension

Path to a 20-year high is there, you're not firing your coach for behavior toward refs

The University of Iowa announced today that it has added four years to men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery’s contract.

The 11th-year head coach is now signed through the 2027-28 season. His salary will remain the same, approximately $2.2 million, but he will receive longevity bonuses at the end of 2021-22 and 2022-23 and his salary will increase to $3.3 million.

A quick compare shows Purdue coach Matt Painter at $2.9 million and Illinois’ Brad Underwood at $3.4 million. McCaffery’s number belongs in this neighborhood. His annual salary will increase each of the next five years.

The years are a good deal for McCaffery, who’ll be 62 in May. He’ll be 68 when this deal is up. His youngest son, Jack, is an eighth grader and, yes of course, he’s good at basketball. He could potentially follow his brothers Connor and Patrick to play for their father.

Why is this a good deal for Iowa?

It’s safe to say “mission accomplished” for Iowa AD Gary Barta. He hired McCaffery after he fired Todd Lickliter in 2010. Barta also hired Lickliter (15-39 in three years of Big Ten play), but let’s give him some points for cold shouldering Steve Alford to New Mexico in 2007.

Barta stood with McCaffery through the blow-ups with officials that certainly have marked his career and now has a coach he picked taking the program’s highest NCAA tournament seed into next weekend with a whole list of items everyone would love to see crossed off.

Wait, “mission accomplished?” McCaffery delivered enough this year for Barta to be able to sign the extension. It’s not “mission accomplished” as in “whoa yeah, look what we’ve done.” It’s more “mission accomplished,” “hey, the coach is doing pretty good and, whew, kinda got this one right.”

It’s “mission accomplished” for Barta, not necessarily the program.

The Hawkeyes and McCaffery need to deliver in the tournament for you to even consider “mission accomplished” T-shirts. Barta, McCaffery, everyone knows that. More people will rally to that than “hey, he’s better than Lickliter.”

Of course, if the Hawkeyes tank, the results will not match up with the extension news and you will voice displeasure. It’ll be a long-ass week for Barta. He’s had a lot of those. Probably won’t notice this one. (IMO, the swimming lawsuit hangs over the athletics department. That’s not entirely settled business.)

The main thing for Barta is his coach is happy. I believe he believes his No. 1 job is to be “of service” to his headline coaches. Does my coach have everything he needs to feel comfortable and take care of the business of winning and all of that “Do it right” stuff (a very real thing at Iowa)?

I’m not going to say that’s served him well and believe that it has brought his role as a leader into question. C’mon, he doesn’t tell Kirk Ferentz what to do.

I do believe, though, Barta made the right decision here. The Hawkeyes have won a lot of basketball games the last two years. Luka Garza and Jordan Bohannon have given the Hawkeyes personalities we can relate to. Garza is a workaholic plugger. Iowans appreciate the hell out of that. Bohannon has given the program … OK, I’m just gonna do this … truck testicles.

They’re certainly not for everyone, but they are an unmistakable statement.

But what about Fran yelling at refs? Who cares. I wrote this Friday. Yes, there are obviously limits, but no coach is getting fired for fighting for his team. And Big Ten officiating? I can’t think of anything that deserves less of a benefit of the doubt. It’s all over the map. Time for full-time officiating crews. You have the money, do it.

McCaffery’s ire hasn’t been out of bounds with players and staff. How do I know? We would’ve heard about it. I think we all can agree on that. That’s the anger that will get you fired and always will be.

This is a good day for Barta. It’s a great day for the McCaffery’s family.

If you get an “Sweet 16” or an “Elite Eight” T-shirt with a Hawkeye logo on it here in the next few weeks, then it will have been a good day for you, too.

Marc Morehouse

22 years as the Iowa football beat writer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Holy bleep, that's a long damn time. Now, I'm a podcaster/writer/pop cult guru at Hawkeyepodcast.com. Yes, I wrote "guru," but I didn't mean it in a pretentious way. Sincere thanks for reading, listening and hopping on board!

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