Making sense of all of this

As I’m sure many of you know, there’s a ton of rumors floating around out there about who is going to be Indiana’s next basketball coach.

Please, do me a favor.

Take them with a grain of salt.

It’s just impossible in this day and age- one dominated by message board posts and the growing blogosphere- to separate real news from speculation. Essentially, that’s our job as journalists: reporting the facts. But with a coaching search like this, one where those in charge are very tight-lipped, it becomes as hard as say, shutting down Sonny Weems in the NCAA Tournament. Well, OK, maybe not that hard.

Essentially, we won’t know officially who the next head coach is until IU Media Relations decides to draft and send out a press release announcing they’ve got their man.

What I don’t understand is how all these message board posters are just so sure about who it’s going to be. They’ll write that they saw an IU airplane stop in such and such city, or somehow they know an IU trustee who told them it’s a done deal and it’s just a matter of contract negotiations now, or that their friend’s dad is a former player’s dentist and he told her that he knows for sure who it is.

Give me a break.

Granted, some turn out to be factual. But for the most part, it’s all internet babble.

I highly doubt that Indiana has been in serious contact with four of their perceived– perceived because the 10-person blue ribbon committee hasn’t said a word- candidates. Why, you ask? Because Bruce Pearl, Tony Bennett, Sean Miller and Rick Pitino all have Sweet 16 games to prepare for and they’re focusing on their opponent instead of real estate options in Bloomington, IN. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s going to be very difficult for Indiana to get this all wrapped up before the Final Four. Unless all of them lose before then. Which is entirely possible.

(On a sidenote, is anyone else just baffled that IU would sit down and interview Scott Skiles? Really, Scott Skiles? He will, at least according to a story in Sunday’s NY Daily News. I don’t get this one at all. He didn’t play for IU. He’s never coached a game in college and didn’t win in the pros. So what if he lives in Bloomington? Why does that earn him an interview? Perhaps it’s just another sign of IU’s immeasurable incompetence.)

Right now, I think Indiana is looking very closely at those four aforementioned candidates. Brad Brownell and Kevin Stallings may be in the running as well, but Pearl, Bennett, Miller and Pitino have all done themselves favors by getting their teams to the Sweet 16. In reality, Pitino doesn’t have to win another game to convince anyone he’s one of the very best coaches in the country. Bruce Pearl would almost be equally exciting for IU fans because of the energy he would bring to the program.

But I think it will come down to money. IU would have paid Sampson $1.6 million this upcoming season. Bennett and Miller would be the feasible options: Bennett is currently making $800,000 at Washington State and Xavier pays Miller $900,000. Pearl ($1.1 million) and especially Pitino ($2.25 million) are on a much higher plane.

How much is IU willing to spend? We really don’t know at this point. What kind of guy are they looking for, the big, sexy hire that brings championship-experience to Bloomington or the up-and-comer that could very well reside in Bloomington for thirty years to come?

Very few people know that. And for the most part, those people aren’t the ones posting every five minutes on a message board somewhere.


  1. Scott Skiles didn’t win it all in the pros, but he was fairly successful. The only people that seem to really complain about him are Bulls fans. The only logical problems I understand they have with him are that his message got old with the players and that he could be to strict. Well neither would be an issue here (players are only here for 4 years and college athletes either listen or walk out the door – you can’t do that in the pros). And he coached in the pros – meaning he knows what it’s like there. If you want the top talent, that is a pretty hefty selling point. Now his recruiting is something to look at. He’s never done it, we don’t know if he can. But other than that, I’d say he’s a reasonable candidate. To say you’re baffled to even mention his name is somewhat disappointing. WHo cares if he never played here? Neither do any of the other candidates other than Alford.

    I agree money might be an issue, but then again it probably won’t be. The alumni are part of the reason we are in this mess. They will gladly fork over the cash to get a great hire. Trust me, if we want Pearl or Pitino, someone is going to pay the buyout, and it won’t be IU. People might have to be convinced to give money for a new library expansion, but they won’t need much to pay for a top notch coach.

    As for the internet babble, it was very bad last time around. And I think it will be even worse this time. It’s all in who you believe. But it can be exciting, as long as you aren’t upset when your favorite rumor is wrong. I don’t see anything wrong with spreading your new favorite rumor you heard from your friends’ friend’s old college roommates ex-mailman. It’s all in good fun. But it is rather unfortunate when people take that as fact and then accuse IU of messing up a hire. That’s when there is a problem. And that is my biggest problem with Rick Greenspan in these situations. He wants to keep everything behind closed doors until he makes his final decision. I think you have to give the Hoosier Nation something, anything, as you move the process along. Otherwise rampant rumors that get “No Comment!” responses will be treated as semi-fact, and then you’re in the situation you are trying to avoid. But it’s his show, he can run it how he wants. I just hope it’s better than last time around. If I hear from Andy Katz that we offered to Mark Few, and get 10 different people confirming that rumor, and then hear we actually hired Tom Creane, who turned it down and recommended Steve Alford, who died and then willed the post to Larry Bird who then… ah forget it. If it’s that crazy again, it will be fun. I just hope it’s handled a little better at the top.

  2. I don’t get Skiles as an option either. It’s a college head coach position and he has zero experience as a college head coach.
    Larry Bird? How fun! I don’t think he has the stomach for recruiting wars but EVERY Hoosier game would be on TV.
    Pearl’s got a home and one of the best arenas in the country. If he asked to have his salary doubled they would do it (my in-laws would probably give them the cash). The same is true for most of the coaches a top programs. Why should they leave a contender to rebuild a contender?
    I’d love Pitino but he’s not even gonna be alive in 30 years, let alone coaching.
    I like Few, I like Bennett more. Nothing is for sure but he seems to get it done, and do it fast, everywhere.
    Names like Larry Brown are fun to throw around but who wants a coach that you absolutely know will be gone in two years.
    Whatever the choice, the powers that be are going to have to get someone of the Bennett/Few/Pitino caliber. Sorry Dan, you’re not gonna be the man. Mike Davis won’t last out his contract at UAB, we can’t pull that stunt again (BTW, Vaden had 9 points in their 75-49 drubbing last night). Absent the cell phone scandal, I liked getting Sampson. He was a two-time national coach of the year with a proven record of winning. That’s the kind of resume I want to see.
    Zak is on target, though. It’s pretty unlikely anything will be accomplished before the Final Four.

  3. pearl is always gonna be 3rd fiddle at tennessee. cant deny the energy he would bring to the “hall” we need one more mall here pitino’s wife could possibly stand to reside here.

  4. My biggest complaint about the entire process is how poorly we seem to handle things. The timeline for the Sampson problems and discussions to get him to leave were happening before the official NCAA announcement by IU’s own admission yet here we sit just beginning to assemble blue ribbon committees and demonstrating once again we are thrashing around for a coach.

    We will likely have players transfer, recruits go elsewhere, and suffer a longer rebuilding process than had we been ready to go. I think we could have moved on someone line Bennett or Miller and should be ready to announce and get in the game of retaining and gaining a team for next season and not drop into the long rebuilding process.

  5. Nobody still in the Dance is gonna talk to anyone. I agree about Pitino’s wife. A divorce would have to be part of the contract;)

  6. I think pearl would be as big for IU bball as Hep was and would have been for football. this is indiana the state and the university. bball is god to fans. pearl would eat it up. are the spam questions gettin harder

  7. We need to go after Bennet. His teams play hard nosed, great defense (that is what wins championships), he is youg and comes at a reasonable price. Pitino, no thanks. Pearl just doesn’t strike me as the right man for the job. I would be ok with Sean Miller… but, since it doesn’t really matter what I think… I HOPE it is Bennet.

  8. i think bennet’s teams look a little too much like an nba team. i mean only in physical appearance. we have always been fairly clean cut and id like to stay that way. you dont do cornrows and fros at duke, unc, thats where we wanna be compared so lets be classy

  9. and before i get pasted as a racist it has nothing to do with race. do we want a player who conducts himself like a grant hill, shane battier, and dj white fits that bill. or do we want allen iverson, ron artest, jemarcus ellis??

  10. • Mark | March 25th, 2008 at 7:16 pm | said:

    “My biggest complaint about the entire process is how poorly we seem to handle things.”

    it ain’t just iu — mighty michigan looked like they didn’t know what they were doing as they stumbled and bumbled their way through their new football coach search process before getting richrod. and last year, when they got bielein for b-ball, they weren’t much smoother, so it just ain’t iu.

    i’m sure ohio state got criticism in their coaching searches before they ended up with tressel and matta, but the kicker is — they got those two guys, and they’ve worked out well.

    there is already a consensus short list of five or six likely and realistic candidates for the iu job. the trick is to figure out which of those five or six guys is the very best one and then figure out what it will take to get him to come to iu and close the deal.

    factor in the search committee’s ability to identify good people, the administration’s ability to contact and negotiate with the person properly (do not underestimate this factor — it’s where michigan fell down before getting richrod) and the willingness of the school to ante up what it takes to pay the man — and iu will get either the coach it wants or the one it deserves, depending on how well it performs this coaching search.

    because i believe that midwest ties and recruiting contacts are important, i discount mark few as a viable candidate. and i don’t think bruce pearl would leave tennessee for iu right now.

    i am not sure of what veto power or final say rick greenspan has over the ultimate choice and would therefore include anthony grant and kevin stallings in the mix until they are otherwise excluded. but i tend to lean more toward tony bennett, tom crean or kevin miller as the likely serious candidates.

    but two of those guys are still coaching in the ncaa’s and crean might pass on iu in hopes of succeeding his mentor tom izzo in a few years or so at msu, so we’ll have to wait at least a month to find out who iu gets.

  11. “Perhaps it’s just another sign of IU’s immeasurable incompetence.” … Grow up Zak. That kind of derogatory remark is not journalism!

  12. i still say pearl isnt as untouchable as everyone thinks. who wants to be #2 behind football? much less be #3 behind football and womens bball??

  13. Zak…..your point is… I read it…to ignore the speculations until they are verified by IU adm, via the (local) press. So… the Skiles contact verified? If not….then why comment? If this is speculation from a NY writer then I don’t feel it is worth discussing.

    WS…….maybe not journalism in the purest sense, but can a writer not have an opinion? I would not enjoy Doug, Chris, and Zak if I could not hear their opinions. And in my humble opinion, I have seen incompetence from the IU adm., especially in this bruhaha.

    And in even more humble thought…….If IU hires Scott Skiles then I may have to jump ship as a fan. No speculation here, just reaction. That hire would make little, to no sense.

  14. I agree with some of the others in that I can’t see Pearl coming to Indiana. As someone that has lived in TN for a couple years now and seen the transformation he did at TN, I don’t believe he’ll have the same effect at IU. I don’t see his personality meshing well with IU and our community. In my eyes, you certainly can’t compare Coach Pearl to Coach Hep because Coach Hep had charisma, he had charm, he had this untouchable factor, but seemed so down-to-earth at the same time. I don’t think Coach Pearl possesses those same qualities and I don’t think he would benefit IU as much as someone like Bennett.

  15. i cant say know as much about pearl and his personality but i have seen his charisma and what he brings to the court (or sideline for you perfectionists) you think some students might show up for a womens game if sampson wouldve came to an IU PU womens game with his face and chest painted crimson. and he doesnt have charisma? come on, be serious. and i still say do we want a team here that looks like washington state?

  16. “Essentially, that’s our job as journalists: reporting the facts.”

    This, followed by a whole column of opinion?


  17. Postman E,
    I can definitely see the irony there. But then again, where else would I get the chance to bash ridiculous message board postings other than the wonderful Hoosier Scoop blog?
    P.S. Love the work you guys do on ITH. Great stuff there, and keep it up.

    I was primarily referring to how poorly IU handled the Sampson exit. And for your comment on that being bad journalism, I offer you this: an excerpt from Pat Forde’s column on following Sampson’s resignation.

    “But the stunning thing was how unprepared Indiana’s administration seemed to be to bring this thing to closure. This was a study in crisis mismanagement… A seven-day reinvestigation ordered by school president Michael McRobbie figured to consist of rearranging the furniture and reaching a foregone conclusion. But the final 24 hours turned into an awkward taffy pull… Years from now, someone should do a training video on how not to handle a situation like this.”

    Essentially, I was arguing that interviewing a candidate like Scott Skiles (who I feel is completely unqualified) is just another bad move in a season full of them for the athletic department.

    That’s all, and thanks for your input.

  18. Bring on the opinions Zak. Journalism can include opinions. I would watch CNN type tickers all day if I did not want opinions. I also appreciate you guys joining in on the blogs to respond.

  19. But then again, where else would I get the chance to bash ridiculous message board postings other than the wonderful Hoosier Scoop blog?

    I agree, it is wonderful. Keep up the good work, gents. (And Zak, you know I’m just busting your chops a bit, right? Didn’t mean nuthin’ by it.)

    Anyway, the real reason I dropped by is to complain about the math involved here. I can’t be expected to calculate the sum of one and seven every time I need to make a sarcastic quip. You guys are elitists.

    Pshh. Math.

  20. THE SUM OF ONE AND SEVEN??? i had 28 and 4!! i had to get my roommate and 2 other people to take off their shoes before i could even post

  21. “Sampson has a good cellular plan”. That is a sarcastic quip. Or another would be what I say to my wife…….nice dinner hon.

    Or maybe a sarcastic quip is a some kind of elastic sports equipment? Not sure.

    Ha……you are a Pearl man.

  22. do you want new math or the old stuff? Next will be story problems to enter a post. That will cut down on the number of entries. I eliminate myself.

    If train A left Pittsburgh at 5pm and traveled 50 mph for 6 hours, and train B left Sacramento at 2pm and traveled 60 mph for 8 hours, when would they meet?

  23. so you seriously expect me to look up the mileage on pitt and and sac. Im skippin class today, callin in dead

  24. And take everything we read from HT with a grain of salt too? HT should start by providing the correct time and date in which IU Mens Basketball is going to play during the NCAA Tournament.

    How the hell do you mess that up? I live out of town and relied on HT to provide those little details. I guess that is why I pay the big bucks for internet news huh?

    The reporting has gone down hill for about 2-3 years straight. Perhaps us online subscribers should get a break on the HT services…..

  25. Pullman, WA. to Bloomington, IN. is 2,126 miles

    Knoxville, TN to Bloominton, IN. is 348 miles

    Though I would say the “trip” from Knoxville would cost the University a lot more money than the “trip” from Pullman.

  26. I’m from Indiana but moved to the Knoxville area 15 years ago. Here’s my take on Bruce Pearl. He’s the best hire any college could make. He can recruit, he’s a good floor coach, but most importantly, he’s a maketing genius. Attendance has never been close to what it is since Pearl showed up. I got there early to the first game I saw him coach in person and watched him walk out of the lockerroom and proceed to walk down press row and shake hands with everyone sitting there. Then he went to the student section and shook hands with everyone in the front row. I’m sure his name is being mentioned at IU due to his Big Ten connections (asst. coach under Tom Davis at Iowa) and the fact that he won a DII national championship at Southern Indiana. I understand there’s even a street named after him in Evansville.
    That being said, I can’t see him leaving here. East Tennessee is a great place to live. The school just renovated Thompson-Boling arena and just completed a multi-million dollar practice facility that I believe has got to rival any school in the country. Plus, although UT has more football and women’s basketball tradition, I don’t think Bruce Pearl (or his program) will take a backseat to anyone. This football school is crazy for men’s basketball right now.
    I’m not saying there’s no way and, personally, IU would be the only place I would want him to leave UT for. But, I just don’t see it happening. He’s got it pretty good here.

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