And the Award for The Thing We Were The Most Wrong About Goes To…

Let’s get this out of the way up front. I know that everything that has me angry right now is completely meaningless. None of it impacts anything. I can’t even glamour myself into the argument that it’s good because the team will turn this into a nobody-respects-us run in the tournament.

But it’s total lack of import does nothing to quell my annoyance.

Tom Izzo was named Coach of the Year of the Big Ten, both by the other Big Ten coaches and the members of the media (not being members of the media we don’t get a vote. We just get to complain about things on the interwebs).

Tom Crean was not.

The argument I heard most from people last night was that Izzo took a team that was unrated in the preseason to a Top Ten ranking and a share of the Big Ten title. Which boils down to Izzo did the best job overcoming everyone’s expectations.

This seems like a pretty narrow set of criteria for this award. And one that’s based on our preseason expectations being wrong. So, in essence, Izzo’s the best because of all the things we predicted that we were wrong about we we the most wrong about him. Which turns this more into an award that celebrates our collective incorrectness as opposed to actual coaching accomplishments.

But if this is the criteria, I’d like to suggest that people were even more wrong about Indiana than they were about Michigan State. Some publications had IU picked to finish last in the Big Ten. Finishing two games out of the title is a much bigger spread than people picking you to finish third and then you finish in a three-way tie for first.

So, I submit, that based on the stupid criteria of exceeding our expectations, Tom Crean out-exceeded Tom Izzo.

But those are stupid criteria. Here are some areas that would be more valid.

Dominance in league play.
Improvement over previous season.


With a three way tie at the top of the conference, each team having five losses, no one showed league dominance. So that’s out. But, if Izzo had a two-loss team, I’d give him the award, hands down.


Anyone who tries to argue that Indiana didn’t show the biggest improvement in the conference is insane and is not worth the time it would spend trying to convince them otherwise. Dakich would hang up on them and suggest getting some supper. If I were voting I would first look for dominance, then I would look for a team that made vast improvement, and if I found a team like IU that made such vast improvement, I would stop looking and vote. Next year, if there’s no dominant team and Nebraska makes a massive jump from 11th to 5th place with wins over all of the best teams, I’d give
Doc Sadler the award in a heart beat.

By that criteria alone, Crean is the hands down Big Ten Coach of the Year.

But I’d like to add this to the Izzo v. Crean argument. IU is peaking at the end of the season, playing their best ball of the year now when it matters most. Michigan State needed to win one of its last two games to clinch the Big Ten Title. They lost both, allowing Michigan, their biggest rival, to back into a Big Ten Title. Congrats on the great coaching job down the stretch that got your rival a conference crown. We should give you an award for that.

Nothing says great coaching like limping to the finish line.

I like Izzo a lot. I respect what he does and consider him an excellent coach, one of the best in the country at any level, but this award is a joke and I’m irrationally angry that Crean didn’t win it.

Nearly 700 words angry. If there was a legitimate argument to be made I would just say, “I don’t agree, but I get it.” I don’t get this at all. It makes no sense. It’s the Chewbacca Defense.

I need to go have supper.

Jeff Taylor