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Eric Peterson, Published March 26 2010

Peterson: Glas says Jacobson is content at Northern Iowa

Ben Jacobson could have waited and potentially landed a head coaching job in a major conference as his Northern Iowa team has become a lead story in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.

He didn’t.

The Panthers knocked off No. 1 Kansas last Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 16, the type of victory that can vault a head coach from a mid-major job to a more prestigious perch.

For now, Jacobson has said, “No, thanks,” to the big-time as he agreed to a new 10-year contract with the Panther earlier this week. Concordia College head coach Rich Glas is not surprised Jacobson would make that decision.

“Ben isn’t caught up in just trying to be big time,” Glas said. “If he makes a decision to go to a ‘so-called’ major school it’s going to be because he feels its right for his family and himself. He’s not in it for the selfish reasons.”

As his coaching stock has soared, Jacobson’s name has been linked to openings at Iowa, which is in the Big Ten, and Oregon, a Pac 10 school.

Northern Iowa plays in the mid-major Missouri Valley Conference. The Panthers are the eighth MVC team to reach the Sweet 16 since 1994.

“He knows there are a lot of challenges the higher up the ladder you go,” Glas said.

Glas and Jacobson have a strong history.

The two have spent 13 college basketball seasons together – 11 at North Dakota and two at Northern Iowa. Jacobson played for Glas at UND for four years before he joined Glas’ staff as an assistant.

Glas was an assistant for Jacobson at Northern Iowa for two years.

“It’s exciting,” Glas said. “It’s a sense of pride really. It’s almost like your son is doing great. We spent so much time together.”

Accepting an invite from Jacobson, Glas will be in St. Louis tonight to watch Northern Iowa play Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team in the Sweet 16. Glas made the trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa, earlier this week to hop on the team’s charter flight.

Glas twice before turned down Jacobson’s invites to join the Panthers for the NCAA tournament because of his coaching duties at Concordia.

“I’m glad he didn’t give up on me,” Glas said with a laugh.

Many of the juniors and seniors on the Northern Iowa roster were starting their college careers when Glas was an assistant for the Panthers, including Adam Koch, Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Lucas O’Rear and Kerwin Dunham.

“The thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing them again, just being around their excitement,” Glas said.

Glas is also proud his former point guard is still making solid choices.

“The key is to find the right place where you can be happy, where you can enjoy the kind of lifestyle that you want to be able to enjoy and Ben is smart enough to know that,” Glas said. “That’s one thing about Ben. He’s grounded. He has the right values. He’s going to make the right decisions.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.