Tom Crean was fired on Thursday morning by the University of Indiana. Some are celebrating, and judging by the dwindling crowds at Assembly Hall, it will be more than a handful celebrating.
But, let’s unpack how we got here for a moment. Wrap our heads around the fact that a man who has won more outright Big Ten regular season titles than anyone in the conference since his arrival at Indiana was fired. A man
Nevermind the curious timing, happening on the morning of the NCAA tournament. Nevermind the fact that Tom Crean was a good man with love for all of his players. There’s just one fact that really matters — winning.
Doing that at an elite level is a must at Indiana.
However, it is also likely not a coincidence that it hasn’t happened at a consistent level since the dismissal of Bobby Knight back in the spring of 2000.
Every coach since then has been expected to win like Knight did with the Hoosiers, only do it on a much more clean level. Being the “next Bobby Knight” is a nearly impossible task for any coach, let alone doing it in a clean fashion.
It certainly has been for Mike Davis, Kelvin Sampson and now Crean.
Davis was let go following the “decline” of the program on the court. All he did was go 115-79 and win a conference title and make four NCAA tournament appearances in his six years at the helm of the program. But, following in Knight’s legendary footsteps required way more winning on a national level.
Sampson followed him up and appeared to have brought winning basketball back. It came with a severe price though, as Sampson allegedly broke some major recruiting rules and was bought out of his contract less than two seasons in to his time in Bloomington.
He was also hit with a five-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA and he jetted off to the NBA as a result.
That’s how we got to Crean, who ends his time in Bloomington with a 166-135 record. It’s a .552 winning percentage, which puts him fourth on the all-time list (for coaches with more than two seasons at IU).
It should add up to a coach who has a little leeway, especially in a season full of so many injuries to so many key players. But, Crean likely wore out his welcome with a program that hit a peak and couldn’t stay there consistently.
For those rejoicing, you better hope Indiana hits a home run with the hire. Otherwise, exactly what did you accomplish by forcing Fred Glass’ hand and ousting Crean? Is there a coach in this country that can win as consistently as you are demanding in a league like the Big Ten?
Credit Fred Glass for daring to live up to those insane level of expectations, but this isn’t the Big Ten basketball conference of the 1970’s and 80’s anymore. This is a Big Ten with 10 teams who can jump up and be a winner on any given year.
Indiana is just one amongst a group of six or seven teams who have a shot at winning a Big Ten title today. That wasn’t the case in the bygone era some IU fans want to continue to live in.
Unless you’re finding the next Coach K or Roy Williams or Bill Self, that return ain’t happening. Are you, the fan who rode Crean out of town, prepared to become a revolving door for coaches once again?
It certainly will be an interesting offseason for the Hoosiers basketball program, and it likely has little to do with players getting in trouble for once.
Only time will tell if Glass is able to accomplish what no one has since Knight left the program in 2000. Good luck, because you’re going to need it on this hire.