UNLV’s TJ Otzelberger Takes Iowa State Job
The Rebel head coach is 29-30 at UNLV in two seasons in Las Vegas.
Will UNLV be starting from scratch or does Otzelberger remain the head coach?
There have been whispers for a few weeks about the potential that TJ Otzelberger could leave Las Vegas for a school he has coached twice before.
On Black Monday in the college basketball world, there were a few jobs that opened up that may have Otzelberger’s interest. Iowa State is one, where Otzelberger was an assistant with the Cyclones on two different occasions from 2006-2013(3 of those years he was associate HC) and in the 2015-16 season, before going to South Dakota State.
It just happens that per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Otzelberger is taking that Iowa State job.
UNLV basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger is leaving the program for the same position at Iowa State, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation: https://t.co/7mM81LYcDn
— Sam Gordon (@BySamGordon) March 17, 2021
What makes Otzelberger a very attractive option for the Cyclones program, is his connections to the university, Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, and his prior ability to win ball games while at South Dakota State (2 NCAA, 1 NIT appearance while there).
Otzelberger’ss wife Alison was a star basketball player at Iowa State and may be ready to make Ames, Iowa, her home again.
Although Otzelberger hasn’t been able to prove to some UNLV fans his worth, there is no question that losing Otzelberger now, unless UNLV has a home-run opinion, would set the school back, yet again. This would be UNLV’S 5th head coach since 2016 and their 14th since 1992.
Leaving the Rebel program while under contract means that Las Vegas Otzelberger will need to fork over $3.15 million of his salary since this move comes before July 1.
What would be next for UNLV at that point?
Some fans are calling for a “Home Run” hire in Rick Pitino. Pitino has a buyout of $10 million at Iona, so don’t hold your breath there Rebel fans. UNLV has flirted with Pitino on multiple occasions, striking out miserably on all of them. Plus, he seems fine in ending his career with the Gales.
Rick Pitino says he's not a candidate for Indiana or any job. "You could come to me with the greatest job on earth and I would not consider it. I came home to coach and end my career at a small, Catholic school."
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 16, 2021
Meanwhile, a few months back UNLV basketball was gifted an $8 million donation designated to be used for men’s and women’s basketball evenly.
That $4 million dollars plus the potential $3.15 million from Otzelberger’s contract would leave UNLV with just over $7 million to hire a solid coach.
Names like Frank Martin, Archie Miller, Tim Miles, Greg Lansing, Steve Prohm, Dave Leitao among others would be considered with cash flow like that if UNLV wanted to go big.
However, most would expect the Rebel program to go with another Otzelberger type of hire since UNLV basketball has not been all that relevant ever since Lon Kruger was on the sidelines and he left a decade ago to coach the Oklahoma Sooners.
Jayson Williams covers UNLV basketball for the Mountain West Wire and Co-hosts “The Vegas Fever Podcast “
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