Nearly nine years ago, Tom Crean arrived from Marquette, with a simple mandate: Rebuild Indiana basketball. In the following seasons, he did that, and brought Indiana back to some of the success that had been the norm for the program. However, it was his consistent failure to climb the highest mountain that led to his dismissal yesterday.
Indiana’s athletic director Fred Glass made the announcement that Crean had been let go just as the NCAA tournament was preparing to tip off, a tournament that Indiana had failed to make for the second time in three years. Coming on the heels of a lackluster one-and-done appearance in the NIT, and with a very vocal portion of the fanbase calling for change, Glass decided the time was right to move on. In his statement, he extolled the good things Crean had done for the program, while also laying out the expectations he had failed to live up to.
The primary lines that any future Indiana coach should pay attention to: “ultimately, we seek more consistent, high levels of success, and we will not shy away from our expectations. ...The expectations for Indiana University basketball are to perennially contend for and win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament, and win our next national championship—and more after that.” Translating from lawyer-speak: failing to make the NCAAs is not acceptable. Failing to advance beyond the Sweet Sixteen is not acceptable. This is Indiana, where success is measured by championships.
Immediately following the announcement, speculation was already running rampant about who Indiana might call to replace Tom Crean. Coaches with past ties to IU were obviously among the first names mentioned (UCLA’s [ed.]
Steve Alford Fuckface McGee among them), but as Crean proved, you don’t have to be a former Hoosier to win at IU. To paraphrase what at least one former Hoosier said about the job, it’s not a question of who will be interested, it’s a question of who is the right person for the job.
As we look towards the future of IU basketball, we should also pause for a moment to thank Tom Crean for giving us nine seasons of hard work, and cleaning up the mess that Kelvin Sampson left behind. While his tenure wasn’t perfect, on the court or off of it, he gave us plenty of thrilling moments, brought some fantastic talent to play basketball for us, and leaves the program in a far better place than it was when he inherited it. Best of luck, Tom. Thank you.