The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint | Should Fran McCaffery be fired?

The longtime Iowa men’s basketball coach has had plenty of success in Iowa City, but many fans are calling for his job due to frequent postseason troubles.
Carly Schrum
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery yells after a foul call during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Kansas State at the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 91-82.


While Fran McCaffery hasn’t accomplished everything fans have hoped he would in his career at Iowa, by no means should he be fired.

I think it’s wrong to simply fire a coach who has won the most games in program history while posting the fourth-best record in the Big Ten over the last five seasons. Sure, the 25-season Sweet 16 drought has long been an Achilles heel, but that drought was already 11 seasons old when Fran arrived in Iowa City in 2010.

McCaffery revived an Iowa program that was at rock bottom following the disastrous tenures of prior head coaches Steve Alford and Todd Lickliter. In only his second season, McCaffery took Iowa to the NIT and rejuvenated the disgruntled fan base.

Since then, McCaffery has led the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament seven times, including a Big Ten Tournament title in 2022. Keegan Murray, Kris Murray, Luka Garza, and Jarrod Utoff have earned consensus All-American honors under his leadership and three of them have landed on NBA rosters.

It’s one thing to hamper a coach’s reputation if there’s a lack of overall success, but McCaffery deserves a ton of credit for restoring sustained credibility to the Iowa program. Yes, average home attendance declined to under 10,000 per game this year, but the team ranked 24th in the nation in terms of home attendance last season. Only three times during McCaffery’s tenure has the average home attendance dipped below 12,000.

While McCaffery’s teams have regressed slightly over the past two seasons, both of those years resulted in winning records and postseason appearances, including a trip to the Big Dance last year. Even still, fans have called for McCaffery’s termination. Can Iowa get a better coach to replace McCaffery? Sure, there are great coaches at the mid-major level, but there’s no guarantee they will succeed at Iowa.

The Hawkeyes have a promising young duo in Brock Harding and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Owen Freeman, as well as a major scoring threat in Payton Sandfort. With the trio presumably returning next year, I think Iowa should keep McCaffery and see if he can finally end his postseason troubles once and for all.


Chicago sports talk radio doesn’t provide genuine wisdom that often, but between the endless squabble of the Justin Fields and Caleb Williams debate, I overheard a motto that hasn’t left my head since: “Strive for greatness. Don’t settle for mediocrity.”

New Iowa athletic director Beth Goetz has lived by this mantra during her young tenure, most notably by finally ridding Iowa football of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. Now, she should direct her attention to the men’s basketball team and move on from Fran McCaffery.

Yes, when McCaffery inherited the program back in 2010, the team wasn’t even mediocre, but just flat-out stunk. In the eleven-year span between McCaffery and former head coach Tom Davis, the program had four seasons of at least 19 wins. In McCaffery’s 14 years at the helm, there’s only been three seasons where the coach hasn’t amassed at least 19 victories.

McCaffery’s first eleven years in Iowa City were splendid, complete with five NCAA Tournament appearances — four of which advanced to the second round — and an NIT championship appearance in 2013. He set a new standard for the program, but as of late that standard hasn’t been met – having not made the second round since 2021. Does that sound impatient? Yes, absolutely, but the program has gone stale.

Look across town at Iowa State. Former head coach Steve Prohm had three 20-win campaigns in his first four seasons but didn’t get past the first round of the Big Dance in the second half of his tenure until being fired in 2021. His replacement, T.J. Otzelberger, has made the Sweet 16 twice in his three seasons at Ames as the Cyclones have become a top-tier team in the Big 12.

Now that’s the difference between mediocrity and greatness. Yes, Prohm posted a two-win season in his final year, but does Iowa really want to wait for the program to bottom out before it makes a change? McCaffery elevated the status of the program, so it won’t be too difficult to find a suitable successor, but the athletic administration can’t be afraid
of change.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Carly Schrum
Carly Schrum, Photojournalist
Carly is a freshman majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and potentially majoring in sustainability. She works at the Daily Iowan as a photojournalist.