Big Ten: At Home With The Alfords

By - October 29, 2006

Seven years into his tenure with the Hawkeyes -- and just months after re-upping for another five -- Iowa City has become an adopted home for Iowa coach Steve Alford and his family.

“I’ve always felt like this was going to be home and, now that I’ve been here seven years, it feels so much more like home,” said Alford, the Franklin, Ind., native who was 34 years old upon taking the Iowa job. “My daughter’s nine years old and she knows nothing but Iowa. She was one when we left Missouri -- she only knows she was born there. My children, they’ve grown up being Hawks just like I grew up following Indiana and following Bob Knight and that’s what I dreamed about doing as a kid.”

Alford, who led the Hoosiers to their most recent national championship in 1987, can cite a number of reasons for the easy adjustment.

“As someone who played in the league, I felt like there were some places I could go and some places I couldn’t go. I always felt like Iowa was a place I could go, and for a lot of different reasons,” Alford said. “I always liked it. I always thought it was very similar state-wise to Indiana as far as how I grew up. The other reason is that I played there, not just my four times [with the Hoosiers] but also for the Olympic team in ’84 we played an exhibition game in Iowa City and [former Hawkeyes coach] George Raveling was an assistant during the Olympics, so I got to know and hear a lot about Iowa.”

Twice since arriving in Iowa City following a successful four-year run at Southwest Missouri State (which included a Sweet 16 appearance in 1999), the Indiana job as been vacant -- and as a natural candidate, Alford’s name has been brought up for the position. While the IU legend still admits an affinity for his alma mater, there’s no question where his current loyalties lie.

Nonetheless, Alford remains appreciative of the patience that Iowa fans exhibit whenever his name is raised in discussions for other jobs.

“The thing I appreciate about Iowa fans is that they understand the family. They understand the B.J. Armstrongs, the Bobby Hansens, the Dean Olivers, the Jeff Horners, the Greg Brunners," Alford said, invoking a Who's Who of Iowa greats. "That’s family. They understand that, the players understand it and the Hawkeye fans understand it. When I was a player, that’s where I played -- so that’s always going to be a part of the family because that’s where I played.”

Posted by at 07:59 PM on October 29, 2006

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