Originally created 07/23/98

Floyd: A coach's son hits the big-time



AMES, Iowa -- Tim Floyd grew up in Mississippi, the child of a basketball coach who wanted his son to become anything but a coach.

A dentist, perhaps. Or maybe a doctor.

Floyd didn't listen. Basketball was in his blood, so he became a coach.

Now, at age 44, after stops at Texas-El Paso, Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State on the college circuit, Floyd is poised to become coach of the greatest basketball show on Earth: the Chicago Bulls.

Well, what was the greatest basketball show.

With Michael Jordan saying he doesn't want to play for a young college coach, it remains to be seen what kind of team will await Floyd, who resigned Wednesday after four seasons at Iowa State.

But what the Bulls are getting is a known commodity: a feisty, tireless coach who can't sit still during games, one who built a reputation as a persuasive recruiter with a keen eye for talent, a stickler for defense whose teams could win even if they shot poorly and frequently threw the ball away.

Floyd is as frenetic on the sidelines as Phil Jackson was calm. Though not necessarily a screamer, Floyd cajoles his players as he paces in front of the bench. The joke along press row at Iowa State was how long it would take Floyd to shed his sport coat. Often, it came off in the first minute.

This intensity comes from two sources: his father Lee, who served two stints as the coach at Southern Mississippi (1949-54 and 1962-71) and Texas-El Paso coach Don Haskins, the man known as "The Bear."

"He was always playing basketball, either in the hallway or off on some court," Floyd's mother, Alice Floyd Bishop, once said. "He simply has always loved the game."

That love didn't translate into much of a playing career. He was a walk-on at Southern Mississippi in 1972, the year his father died. Then he transferred as a junior to Louisiana Tech, where he was awarded a scholarship. He gave up the scholarship and became a student assistant coach at Tech as a senior.

"They needed it for someone who could play," he joked.

Floyd had worked for the New Orleans Saints during his summers. After he graduated from college in 1977, Hank Stram suggested he get a degree in sports administration, then work for the Saints.

Instead, Floyd wrote to three college coaches for a job: Haskins, Indiana's Bob Knight and Oregon State's Ralph Miller. Haskins had known Floyd's father, so he hired Floyd as an assistant.

Floyd spent nine years with Haskins, sharpening his recruiting and developing a passion for defense. Then he set out on his own. First, two seasons at Idaho. Then, six at New Orleans before taking the Iowa State job in May 1994.

At Iowa State, he went 23-11 his first season with a team Johnny Orr had left behind. Floyd had to rebuild for his second season and went 24-9 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament with a team of transfers and castoffs.

Then, during a 22-9 season, Floyd recruited a class that was ranked second nationally, a remarkable achievement for a school that is not one of the basketball capitals.

But two of the top players in that class were not admitted, and what turned out to be Floyd's last team at Iowa State went 12-18, his first losing season as a coach.

It was during his time at New Orleans that Floyd got to know Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, first by phone and then in a boat as fishing partners.

Krause had his eye on Floyd as a potential successor to Jackson ever since. And on Wednesday, Floyd finally made the move, leaving a job that would have paid him $750,000 next season and kept him before adoring fans for one in which he could become the man who ran Michael out of Chicago.