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The Dean's List: Thursday, May 28

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I caught some heat a month or so back for reporting that barring a Chicago run to an NBA championship, Tom Thibodeau was toast. Two impeccable sources were in the loop enough to inform me that despite a successful season and five-year run, bridges had been torched so much so that “I get the feeling that Gar (Forman, general manager) wants Thibs out so bad he's pulling against his own team in the playoffs.” Sounds absurd but the bitterness between the two men is palpable.

My sources – one notable college head coach and one veteran NBA scout with relationships with coaches on the NBA radar – consistently and independently told me the same thing: Thibs was out and Fred Hoiberg was the favorite to take over. And nothing has changed. Just got off the phone with one of the sources who told me, “I'm hearing it's a done deal. Fred's the guy.” If it were to happen, Hoiberg would join Billy Donovan as making the jump this season from college to pro.

The temperament of the current Iowa State head coach is in diametric opposition to that of Thibs, whom I'm told “did some unconscionable things to Gar.” Some Chicago media have labeled Hoiberg a “puppet,” suggesting Forman and Chicago management want to control things in a much more dominant manner than they have the past five seasons.

FYI, these two specific sources were the ones who told me back when New Orleans was winning and advancing to the playoffs that the Pelicans were planning to fire Monty Williams. One said—and we reported—that Hoiberg might wind up having the option of Chicago or New Orleans. About that time Hoiberg underwent a heart procedure. Reports had the recovery time at four to six weeks. We haven't heard much from him since and you've got to believe his recovery and outlook will play a major role in whether he jumps to the Association or we see him again next season roaming the sidelines when he travels to Norman and Stillwater.


Gar Forman has been the GM of the Bulls since 2009, having served the previous 11 years with the organization as a scout, director of player personnel, and special assistant to executive vice-president of basketball operations. But a few years earlier, Forman was an assistant coach in the Big 12. Forman was an Iowa State assistant under Tim Floyd when they coached a Cyclone named Fred Hoiberg. Floyd inherited a weak team in Chicago, dealt with the lockout, but also squabbled with management. In his four seasons, Floyd flopped, posting a 49-190 record with the Bulls and was fired in 2001.


ESPN's cameras are once again showing the nation that hosting is something Oklahomans do pretty well. It's in our generous genes. In Tulsa, the Big 12 Baseball Championship moved along swimmingly – pardon the intended pun. And the Mighty Gators got a win to kick things off for the softball lovers around the country (count me in) who will witness another stirring run of the Women's College World Series.

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium is better than ever. Tim Brassfield and his talented people with the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association have experienced success so often that they have running this event, shown on the Worldwide Leader of Sports, down to an art. An Alabama stunning grand slam – grand to the SEC and hometown Tide fans but tormenting to Sooners everywhere – leaves OU's machine in their Norman garage but it will not keep fans of all sizes and shapes, and colors and counties away from the ping of the bats over near I-35 and NE 50th in Oklahoma City.


By all accounts, the city of Tulsa did an outstanding job hosting last week's Big 12 Baseball Tournament. It passed the Fannies in the Seats test and must've had divine intervention (ORU not far down the road, you know) to avoid incessant rains that only Noah could appreciate. Helps having the Bedlam boys hang around a long time, and OSU did its part. Under the steady hand of the mature and respected baseball man Josh Holliday, the Pokes appear destined for a sustained period of success, reminiscent of those Gary Ward days of OSU baseball when Big 12 Tournament drama was certain out at the old All-Sports Stadium here in OKC.


The jury is out on Pete Hughes and the Sooners, although sources high on reason tell me Holliday has a stranglehold on baseball talent, their coaches and programs in the state of Oklahoma. One wise Sooner observer told me that “it feels like what OSU football fans had to have felt for so many years when they played OU. They knew they might be good but they didn't get fired up to play us because they knew we'd win. That's how it was in that slew of Bedlam games this year. Playing catchup ain't fun.” The findings of the jury begin being heard a year from now, so, for Pete's sake, the Sooners need to pick up the pace.

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