Whatever you think of the choice of the Indiana Hoosiers to fire Tom Crean, there is no going back now. There’s also a very clear expectation for the next coach in Bloomington and that is to get back to winning national championships.
Two outright conference titles in nine years and only five NCAA tournament appearances won’t cut it in Hoosier-land anymore.
It certainly is a high bar set by athletic director Fred Glass, but also a bar he isn’t afraid to acknowledge and
Now that the dust has settled and we’ve had some time to gather our research and talk to our sources, it is time to give you the names we’d be considering if we were Fred Glass.
This list is based on our thoughts and knowledge and not meant to be a full list of names that are officially under consideration. With that in mind, here are the names we’d be making calls to if we were Fred Glass.
Steve Alford, UCLA Head Coach
This is easily the most controversial name on this list, but it is also the most obvious name. Alford was one of the darlings of the golden era of Hoosiers basketball in the 1980’s. He’s also been one of the most controversial figures in Hoosiers history as well.
He’s got himself a heck of a gig at UCLA right now, but can an IU legend really turn down the Hoosiers if and when that call comes? Fred Glass certainly will make an interesting case, and it is clear that he wants a coach with Indiana recruiting ties as well as an understanding of what wearing the Crimson and Cream means.
Alford fits that bill for sure. However, he also brings with him a propensity to rub a lot of people the wrong way. He also isn’t exactly a proven winner on the national level despite many big-named gigs in his coaching resume.
Let’s remember he managed to bring Iowa basketball up a level and finish second in the conference once. However, he has never won a conference title beyond the mid-major level or below in his career and he’s never had a team advance beyond the Sweet 16 in his 22 years coaching.
No doubt I’m making the call if I’m Fred Glass, if for no other reason than to appease the fanbase. In the end, I’m moving on to other candidates that can fit the bill better.
Chris Mack, Xavier Head Coach
We’ve heard this name talked about on a few lists, and some of the folks we speak with also have this as a name to watch in this search. Indiana could do far worse than Mack and ultimately he is amongst the realistic candidates in this search.
All Mack has done is lead a steady program at Xavier over the past eight years. He’s led the Musketeers to the NCAA tournament in seven of his eight seasons in Cincinnati and reached the Sweet 16 three times so far.
Xavier just got done handling Maryland in their NCAA tournament Round of 64 matchup and will face No. 3 seed Florida State in the Round of 32 this year.
Perhaps the best case made for Mack is that he took his team out of the Atlantic 10 and in to the Big East and has never missed an NCAA tournament in four years in the conference.
If I’m Fred Glass this is one of the most serious candidates on my list.
Archie Miller, Dayton Head Coach
Few coaches are as like Teddy Roosevelt in college basketball as Archie Miller, you know…in the “speak softly, carry a big stick” kind of way. Miller has made Dayton in to a perennial Atlantic 10 power and a real threat in the NCAA tournament.
The Flyers were bounced by Wichita State in the Round of 64 this year, but that was a “down year” if you will for Miller’s crew. This has been Miller’s only head coaching job, but it has been a consistently good job too. His Flyers teams have reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last four years, including a run to the Elite 8 in 2014-14.
Dayton has also finished no worse than second in the A-10 over the last three years, including back-to-back regular season championships the last two years.
If I am Glass, this is one phone call that was made the next day after the Flyers were bounced. Few young coaches have the pedigree on the recruiting trail and the winning ways on the court as Miller does.
Bryce Drew, Vanderbilt Head Coach
The timing may not be right, but if the Hoosiers brass is smart this is a name they have begun to reach out to. Being a successful head coach is in the blood of the Drew family.
His father, Homer Drew, led Valparaiso to a Sweet 16 berth while Bryce hit one of the most iconic shots in NCAA tournament history to get his time to the then-named second round (today’s Round of 32).
There is also brother Scott Drew, who took one season at Valpo to become the head coach at Baylor. You know, the neon-clad squad that scares the crap out of a lot of teams these days.
As for Bryce? He led the Crusaders to four Horizon League championships in five seasons and reached the NIT final last season. That led to him taking the Vanderbilt job.
Of course, his one season in Nashville will likely be remembered for the blunder by Matthew Fisher-Davis, who committed a foul that didn’t need to happen. It led to the late-game loss and some argue that Bryce should’ve handled the coaching of that situation differently.
However, that was one situation in a career that has shown plenty of quality coaching. If Glass truly is looking for someone who coaches a quality style of basketball, understands Indiana high school basketball and recruiting players in the state, well you could do far worse than Drew.
There’s also the fact that he runs a clean program and has long focused on being a “players coach” in that he cares more about the player of the court than on it. For me, this is the call that happens next after Steve Alford’s quick call to appease some in the donor and fan bases.
Linc Darner, Green Bay Head Coach
While you aren’t likely to see this name on a lot of lists, and it isn’t likely to happen, this is a name that Glass should be looking hard at. Chances are if you are reading this you also aren’t likely to know this head coach very well.
However, he fits a lot of the boxes that Glass would like in a head coach. He turned around a dreadful D2 program at St. Joseph’s (Rensselaer, Ind.), won a D2 national championship at Florida Southern and has gotten the Green Bay Phoenix to the postseason each of his first two years at the helm of the program, including an NCAA tournament appearance in his first season in Green Bay.
He does it by playing a high-tempo style that includes defense from baseline to baseline and getting out quickly in transition. Given the athleticism on the Hoosiers roster, it sure would be interesting to see a highly conditioned team go quickly for 40 minutes straight.
Sure it may also be a bit controversial, as Darner played his college basketball at Purdue, but that should be water under the bridge. What should be important is that he is a success on the court, can recruit off of it and he understands the in’s and out’s of Indiana high school basketball.
Oh, and did we mention he plays a style of basketball that literally no one plays in the Big Ten? If the Hoosiers want to break out of the middle of the Big Ten it may be time to do something really different. Darner represents that and we’d be bringing him in for an interview as soon as possible.