COMMENTARY: Change is the only way forward for IU

Change is never easy.

Change is also inevitable.

Those two facts have been on a collision course when it comes to Indiana basketball for quite some time.

On Thursday, the resulting explosion was the firing of IU coach Tom Crean after nine seasons at the helm.

Crean affected change in his own right when he was hired on the heels of the Kelvin Sampson debacle in 2008.

“It’s Indiana,” Crean famously intoned, endearing himself immediately to a fanbase hungry for a return to glory.

But if those two words once suggested salvation for the Hoosiers, they also turned out to be a harbinger of damnation in the end.

Many schools would dearly love to win two conference championships and reach three Sweet 16s in six seasons.

At Indiana, that’s the minimum, not the maximum.

Hence the difficult decision that Indiana and athletic director Fred Glass had to make.

Some of you reading this are thinking, “Didn’t seem that difficult to me?”

Contrary to some opinions, Crean was not a bad basketball coach.

Flawed to be certain, but not incompetent.

In other words, he was good enough to have Glass contemplating a stay in safer waters.

There’s risk to change.

Some might say, “You can do worse than Tom Crean.”

And you’d be right.

But you can also do better.

If you’re Indiana, being paralyzed by fear is not an option.

To do nothing was to move backward, and that is a direction the Hoosiers could not and cannot go.

Crean maxed out his potential at Indiana and wore out the welcome mat.

He brought the Hoosiers back to relevance and respectability, but left everyone wanting more.

With in-state recruiting stalled, a frustrated and fractured fanbase and a regressive arc since spending most of the 2012-13 season at No. 1, there was only one way forward for Indiana.

It was time for a change.

The clock started ticking on March 28, 2013, with that fateful loss to Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

The mantra moving forward was supposed to be, “We’re Back.”

But back can’t last just one season, and in a twist of fate, that spectacular success made for an equally spectacular letdown.

In 2014, there was no postseason at all, then the off the court problems leading into 2014-15, the Maui mishap a season ago just ahead of the Duke debacle, and after a change of course that produced a Big Ten title, another gross disappointment in this season that ended in the NIT on the road.

This change was not a kneejerk reaction. If anything, there was an exceeding amount of patience shown that would not exist at a North Carolina or a Kansas or a Duke or a Kentucky.

Still, some say that change is the product of expectations beyond any reasonable capacity.

It’s been 30 years since Indiana won a national title, it’s been 15 years since Indiana reached a Final Four.

College basketball has passed the Hoosiers by.

To which I say, poppycock, and Glass agrees.

“That’s the beauty of the opportunity,” the IU AD said. “The next coach can put his mark on a program that hasn’t had the success that we expect generally in that time frame, but we have all the resources to get there, and I think looking forward can be a powerhouse to be reckoned with, with the right leadership.”

IU is not currently an elite program. I’ll give you that, but it has an elite history with elite expectations and that means there is elite potential.

But there was only one way Indiana was ever going to reach that potential.

Change.
Sports writer Jeremy Price can be reached at 812-331-4342 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JPPrice.

32 comments

    1. “Damnation & Poppycock + Harbinger = Impressive.”

      That was also the infield for the 1908 Cubs World Series champs.

  1. Terps go down. Mack will put his name in the hat for glass to interview.
    PUke better watch out as they may be next. The Catamounts are for real.

    1. You called Pitino. He just failed the interview.

      Mack could do it.

      Honestly, I’m that rare character who thinks FG is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.

      I think, as has been suggested by others, that this is THE CHANCE to get the guy we want. The last few picks were weighted down by ‘issues’.

      This is a ‘clean pick’. Fred Glass gets to throw the wallet at the guy we’ve been hoping for without any inside issues.

      Let’s see where this goes.

  2. No, in the NCAA tournament, Crean was, for all intents and purposes, incompetent compared to his peers.

    The talent was shackled by his inability to adjust and in-game coach….and have any clue to how to penetrate zone defenses.

    The confidence on the team would erode faster than the senseless substitution patterns. If you prefer not to call it incompetence, that’s your call.

    Give it time to settle. You were bit by the tongue of very slick lingo artists with no substance to back the talk. You’ll see it for joke it was in due time.

    He’s going to have to sell a bigger bag of goods to get a job in Division 1 basketball than he ever had to at poor Indiana victimized by the devil’s spawn of a 3-way calling addict who failed at turning Chicago homeless kids into Northwestern scholars.

    Indiana was vulnerable and the vulnerable to the trickery of Tartuffe and bought the carnival act.

    Presidential candidates prey no differently. They seize and attack via the wanting of promises they have no competence or inclination to deliver.

    I will never apologize for this fiasco or label it any differently than what is was from Day 1.

    Scapegoats and witch hunts are not the ‘go-to’ diet of winners.

    Outside of my near total disagreement with Jeremy’s commentary angle, I thought he presented some very impressive writing to sell his take on the inevitable drums of change. It flows….It just flows.

  3. Do not get anyone already used to dining on prime steak.

    Lawyers like to wine and dine. We don’t need wine and dine. We need authenticity and blue collar mentality. We need a voice independent of our highfaluting view of ourselves…We had that guy in football….He simply didn’t want Yacht Club membership.

    We need a coach who says..”Indiana, my ass.”

    1. My personal attorney likes BBQ and cold Mickeys Malt Liquor. My business attorney likes chicken and drinks hot tea. Talk about diverse contrast.

  4. Change is the only way forward? Change can also be the way backward, as we witnessed after IU’s firing of Bob Knight. And IU’s track record in hiring coaches does not inspire confidence that IU will “move forward.” There’s a pretty good chance this will result in yet another setback for IU basketball.

    When you combine unrealistic expectations with a great sense of urgency, you almost certainly doom the mission. And that’s what Fred Glass has done. He spouts off about extremely lofty expectations that must be achieved quickly. But the coaches who have the ability to achieve such a mission are not available to IU. The candidates that might develop into such a coach probably won’t be given enough time to build the program back up to that level. Don’t tell me the Hoosier Nation is going to accept three or four seasons finishing 20 – 10 and middle of the pack in the Big Ten? IU basketball fans want it all, and they want it RIGHT NOW!

    And if Glass suddenly comes up with $6 million a year to lure the world’s next best basketball coach to Bloomington, one has to wonder why a big chunk of that money was not invested in our football program, to increase recruiting budgets or help Tom Allen keep his best assistant coaches?

    Fred Glass should have kept his mouth shut and done a better job of managing expectations. We’ll probably never know for sure, but I’ll bet that his top three or four candidates to replace Crean will refuse to pursue the opportunity.

  5. Now it just sounds like your undermining …..which is what you were doing for the 9 years you spent apologizing for a guy with a terrible mind for the game.

  6. What a way to spend a Friday evening. Dayton vs. Wichita State is like going to the dentist getting a tooth pulled.

  7. PO, has to be either Jim or John (Tom’s brothers-in-law) or Jack his father-in-law. If not ,maybe he should become a fan of The University of Kentucky. where everything is perfect in men’s basketball and the sun shines everyday and no dark clouds are permitted. Some questions of Po, are you a season ticket holder ? Have you personally ever talked to Fred Glass? Staying the course isn’t a good option when your path’s direction is going over the cliff. I don’t have a 100% approval rating of Fred Glass’s decisions, but in this instance, I agree with his decision. Maybe in 5 or 6 years and you save all your posts you may be able to tell us that, “I told you so in 2017 the I U coaching decision would turn out bad.

  8. Heh, you said this morning you respected his opinions, but here you are now bashing. Can’t make this stuff up.

        1. Ben,
          Unlike you, I’m not anonymous. Several guys here communicate with me via email and anyone paying attention knows I’ve given more than enough personal info to identify me and several have.

          Really, I mentioned where my kids have competed and when. It’s easy enough.

          You seem to be the only one hiding behind a keyboard.

          1. This don’t concern you. You tend to stick your nose where it don’t belong more times than not. It was between Doug and I to begin with until you “intercepted” the pass. Careful the info you share on here. I’ve seen your daughter and family attacked on here.

        2. Ben, when did you get this internet tough guy syndrome? Brother, I’m happy to let Jeremy give you my email addy so you know who I am. Dunno why you’ve taken such a defensive tone recently.

          Jeremy, please provide Ben my email addy if Ben asks.

          Ben, my email provides my entire name and you’ll be able to find a lot on the internets about me. You’re welcome to come correct. Happy to know you as a person and not a commenter.

          Dunno why you are taking this tone, dude. Po has done nothing but call us “haters”, “bigots” and pawns of “group think” all because after 9 years we felt that Crean should no longer be the head basketball coach of Indiana. And now he’s insinuating we have the equivocal of “blood on our hands.” So we’ve pushed back a bit.

          1. Doug,

            I’ll take you up on your email. Too bad your in Cali, as I’d happily meet you in person. Oh well. Jeremy, send me the email as this is obviously getting out of hand. I’ll get with you later today as I’m cutting out some flower beds and putting in a cement driveway. Talk soon.

  9. Emmitt Holt of Providence (No. 11 seed in the East). Stanford Robinson of Rhode Island (No. 11 seed in the Midwest). Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea of East Tennessee State (No. 13 seed in the East).

  10. Came across another tidbit today that puts transfers in perspective.

    The NCAA has said about 40 percent of all men’s basketball players who enter Division I directly out of high school leave their initial school by the end of their sophomore year.

    Since some people transfer more than once the total number has to be a few percentage points above 40%.

  11. For what it’s worth, I really enjoy Chet’s posts. Always. And I was really happy to hear of the 3 transfers who are/were in the tournament.

  12. Nobody cared when Remy was in the Dance last season….

    Luke Fisher was also in the tournament(though Marquette has been eliminated).

    If you’re a Division 1 kid transferring out of Indiana, it’s not so unusual to play in the Big Dance at your next destination. Rhode Island and Middle Tennessee State are a bit more unlikely candidates. Are Hanner Olajuwon and Ambi-Stan Dextrous getting a lot of minutes?

  13. IU South, my answers to your questions are as follows: No, not any more, but I was a season ticket holder in both football and basketball for 15 years, but now I live too far away to justify buying season tickets. I’ve made it a priority to get back to Bloomington for at least one football and one basketball game a year for many, many years. My wife and I have donated money to IU every year since we graduated. I won’t mention the total amount, but I would suggest that it is well above average for IU alumni. Yes, I have met and spoken to Fred Glass on three occasions. I find him to be a good man, and one who can take suggestions very well. I actually shared one class with Fred when we were in IU’s Business School together, but we did not know each other well at that time.

    In this echo chamber, who does not agree with Fred’s decision? I’d have no dog in this fight if it weren’t for the money being wasted on Crean’s severance. To me, this move is just the latest indication of IU Athletics’ continued mismanagement. Crean was the latest scapegoat, a victim of 30-plus years of terrible mismanagement that degraded IU basketball and has continued to suppress IU football (and they’re linked). I’m disappointed in Fred, and believe he was getting heat from donors, who I believe he depends on far too much in order to maintain his athletic department’s budget. Those big donors prioritize men’s basketball over everything else at IU, and when they say jump, Fred responds, “how high?” I hope I’m wrong, but I believe Fred will be the next IU Athletic Department employee who gets scapegoated because IU’s basketball program does not meet certain donars’ unrealistic expectations.

    One last response. The best indication of future performance is past performance. And I’ve been paying close attention to IU athletics for 41 years. What is it about our past that gives any Hoosier fan any reason to believe that this won’t turnout to be another example of terrible mismanagement? For goodness sakes, we just fired a coach who won the Outright Big Ten Championship a year ago, and twice in a four year period. He looses two key starters to season-ending knee injuries and has a disappointing year, so we put millions of dollars at risk to fire him. That’s seems really stupid to me.

    By the way, I think Tom Crean is going to be fine, and will come out of this far better than IU basketball is. I hope I’m wrong, but there’s nothing in IU’s past that suggests I will be.

  14. Often, when IU won I still did not like T.C. and IU style of play. Style did not meet my expectations often win or lose.

  15. Po, thanks for your reply, we share similar positions regarding, the good and bad decisions involved in the administration of the I U athletics both past and present. I am a little older than you, we have season tickets for football & men’s basketball and have made donations to varsity club for over 25 years at the required level for seating location. Yes, money speaks in all organizations, and the leaders of those organizations have to relate to the high level donors and IU is no exception. If, I were in your situation of attending a few games and not attending on a regular basis, and seeing the decline of I U basketball on a more constant basis, maybe I could restrain my strong distaste of the current status. Again, thanks for sharing you information.

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