On Jan. 10, the Hawkeyes were in a tough spot. Michigan State was doing what Michigan State often does to teams like Iowa -- defending like crazy and scoring at will and blowing the Hawks off the floor in East Lansing, Mich. -- and by the 11-minute mark in the second half, with MSU leading 69-41, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery had seen enough.
You've seen what happened next: McCaffery lost it. He directed his ire first at the referees, for which he received a technical foul, and he was arguably lucky not to be thrown out of the game. A minute later, he turned his anger inward, gesticulating wildly during a timeout before picking up a padded MSU bench chair and slamming it forcefully down on the Breslin Center court.
McCaffery's actions were met by the Big Ten with something less than enthusiasm. League commissioner Jim Delaney said the conference "communicate[d] its concern" to Iowa's athletics department about McCaffery's outburst, and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta had to walk the line between supporting his coach and agreeing that the chair toss was slightly over the line. When asked about the incident, McCaffery was largely defiant, saying he wasn't going to sit on his hands and watch his players get blown out by 40 points without "fighting" and "coaching with passion." All in all, the chair-slam ended up being less controversial than funny, the subject of more amused ("Ha, look at McCaffery lose it! And here comes the chair! Bam!") reactions than outrage. Really, the whole thing seemed premeditated: McCaffery was trying something, anything, to snap his team out of its doldrums.
And that was the last of it, or so we thought. Turns out, McCaffery's infamous chair found another use this weekend: fundraising.
Per Iowa communications director Matt Weitzel, the chair was sold Sunday at an auction/steak fry (mmm, steak fry) benefiting the Iowa baseball program. The chair included McCaffery's signature and two handwritten messages: "Go Hawks!" and "Coach with passion!" The going price? $2,100. You can see a large image here.
Really, it's a win-win: Iowa raises a bit of cash, McCaffery turns his follies into a benefit for his athletics program, and some lucky fan with moderately deep pockets adds a rather hilarious memento to his rumpus room collection. In the meantime, McCaffery's signed message -- "Coach with passion!" -- may just become his trademark calling card. Given McCaffery's typically demure demeanor, perhaps that's the biggest surprise of all.
(Hat tip: The fine folks at Midwest Sports Fans)