McDermott’s vacancy leaves UNI fan, editor with flurry of questions, emotions

By Taylor Bern 2006

The shock has yet to wear off, The picture of him in Cyclone hat that graced the cover of sports pages across the state still seems like a sick joke. But it’s not.

On Tuesday, March 21, just one minute before the third period bell rang, I head the news, but I didn’t believe it. It couldn’t be. I mean, Iowa State? No way.

But a little less than 10 minutes later my fellow classmates and I found more than four sources confirming that UNI head coach Greg McDermott had signed with the Cyclones of IUS.

Anger was the first and most predictable emotion I ent through. I’ve been a UNI fan all my life, and in my mind there is no better school in the state.

How could he dare leave his alma mater for another in-state school? Who does this guy think he is? It only took a few minutes from to answer that question for myself.

Greg McDermott is the man responsible for turning a team locked in the cellar into a national threat. He is the man responsible for taking the Panthers to three straight NCAA tournaments, which is two more than they had ever been to before he took over.

And he is also the man Panter fan’s have to thank for making UNI basketball fun to watch again, and for giving those same Panther fans a better place to watch it.

The new 7,000-seat McLeod Center would not exist were it not for McDermott and the success he had while at UNI.

Sorrow kicked in about 15 minutes before the end of third period. My mind was overwhelmed with memories of UNI basketball games when Sam Weaver was the head coach. It still gives me chills. Could the exit of Mac return UNI to that state?

I wandered through the rest of my day, barely able to pay attention for more than a minute before thinking of McDermott again. Earlier in the year I had prepared myself for McDermott jetting for Iowa or one of the countless out-of-state schools that mentioned his name, but not Iowa State.

That night I saw part of his press conference on the news. I could offer nothing more than a blank stare.

My brain spun into a whirlwind and I could not hold a thought for more than a few seconds. I asked myself every question there was to ask about the situation. Then, at the end of the newscast, I heard something that brought me out of my daze. Next season, Iowa State will travel to Cedar Falls.

It’s one of the few bright spots to an otherwise gloomy situation. He may get cheered or booed, but either way, less than a year after leaving, Mac will return to the UNI-Dome to face off with his protégé Ben Jacobson. It’s the best script UNI basketball has seen in quite some time.

Now, despite what I may have led you to believe, I will not be attending UNI next year. But I will say this; there isn’t a thing in the world that could keep me from going to that game.

 

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