Howe: Lickliter Has to Own Tucker Miscue

Anthony Tucker allegedly screwed up again early Sunday morning, getting arrested for public intox for the 2nd time in a little more than a year. He's suspended indefinitely. But, how much of a hit to the program is this. Is Tucker the only one to blame?

IOWA CITY, Ia. - The satisfaction created by Saturday night's in-state victory against Drake turned into disappointment for the Iowa men's basketball team about seven hours later.

In fact, it probably felt like a swift kick to the groin area.

I can't imagine the look on Todd Lickliter's face (actually, I can) this morning when he heard about Anthony Tucker's second public intoxication arrest in a little over a year. Hey, coach, feeling better after that surgery? How about a nice quick kick to the stones? (OK, last testicle reference.)

As a Hawkeye basketball fan, you have to laugh to keep from crying. Here's a little advice from Uncle Rob, look at the details of Tucker's arrest (Iowa City Press-Citizen story) like it happened to one of your college buddies when you were that age. If you view it for what it means for your favorite basketball program, it's too much to handle, believe me.

Here's a little excerpt from the police report gathered by the Press-Citizen:

According to an Iowa City Police report, officers arrested Tucker, 20, at 2:05 a.m. at The Lodge apartment complex off of Highway 6.

Police were called to The Lodge after receiving a report that a male was beating on the side of a taxi after a dispute over a cell phone. Tucker accused the cab driver of taking his phone, then tried to assault the driver, according to police.

Police say the driver locked his car doors in fear of the assault and dialed 911. When police arrived, officers located Tucker, whom the cab driver identified as the person beating on the taxi, according to the report.

Police say Tucker had bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, a strong odor of alcohol and swayed while standing.

With all due respect to alcoholics and their families (present company included), the image I have in my head is of Woody from the 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son. For those folks straining for that reference, he is Aunt Ester's husband on the show. Here's a CLIP.

Tucker was charged with public intox early last December. Couple that with Sunday's offense and he's been suspended indefinitely, according to athletics director Gary Barta, who released a statement in the afternoon.

Does Tucker have a drinking problem? Few of us are in a position to speculate. The small group would include family and friends. Some addicts can hide it from those people.

I will say that Tucker underwent counseling after his first offense as part of university guidelines. So, if he was an addict, the counselor either dropped the ball (again, addicts can fool these folks, too) or the counseling ended prematurely.

If Anthony Tucker is diagnosed as an alcoholic, I can find leniency. Other than that, if the police report is accurate, I can't muster up an excuse. It's just a complete lack of respect for himself, his teammates and his coaches. It's a very selfish act.

Two weeks ago yesterday (Saturday), Lickliter underwent surgery on his carotid artery (a vessel that supplies blood to the brain). By all accounts, it was a serious procedure.

The coach returned to the bench Saturday after missing three games after the surgery. Iowa ended a two-game losing streak (ISU, UNI) against Drake to move to 4-7 this season.

It's looking like this could be one of the worst, three-year stretches in Iowa basketball history at year's end. Lickliter might start his career with the Hawkeyes hanging up three losing seasons in a row.

Four players left the program in March. Eight players have exited the program with eligibility remaining since Lickliter was hired in April of 2007. He signed a seven-year contract worth $1.2 million annually.

Chalk it up to bad luck, poor timing or personal failure, Lickliter should be judged by whether or not he gets the job done. It's the same standard to which our bosses hold us. People all over the world can come up with excuses as to why they were fired every day, but it's about productivity.

No way does Barta run off Lickliter now. But Tucker's trangression turns up the heat a little more.

Lickliter is responsible for Tucker's actions, fair or not. He's the CEO of the company. This is big business and the inability to fill even half the area is, in this case, like a shot to the athletic department's stones (sorry, another testicle reference).

I wrote earlier this season that Lickliter and staff should and will get another year to turn things around significantly. I still believe that.

At that point, it's decision time. There would be three years remaining on the original deal. You either need to extend him or cut him loose. To do neither would be a recruiting nightmare.

Lickliter and staff are a good group of people. Let's hope they get this done. That's best-case scenario.

If it doesn't happen that way, you hire a new guy while being able to dangle carrots in front of him like a brand new practice facility, a renovated arena and Gatens as a senior, Fuller as a senior, Cougil, Payne and May as juniors, and McCabe, Larson, Marble and Brust as sophomores. That's not terrible no matter how anti-program you are now.

And, you offer a competitive contract in line with what it's going to get a coach to rebuild this sucker. Enough. I'd like to see a win in the NCAA Tournament.

Nine years is a long, long time. It's not Northwestern long (Pssst, the Wildcats have never been in the Big Dance). But it's long for a once-proud program. We can't go a decade without a postseason win. Can we?

What would really suck here is if I lost my job today. But, hey, give me almost $5 million and I'd be OK.