Big Ten Champs (Now What?)

This was never the goal.

It wasn’t the goal at the beginning of the season.

It wasn’t the goal last December.

It wasn’t the goal in April, 2008.

It was never the goal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal.

With our victory over Iowa on Saturday night and the wins by Purdue and Michigan on Sunday, we have clinched a share of the Big Ten title. And tomorrow night, senior night, we have the chance to win the thing outright.

But sharing the Big Ten title was never the goal. And neither was winning it out right. Not for Crean. Not for the team. Not for the fans. Not for me.

And maybe this shows how delusional I am. But, I bought season tickets at the start of Crean’s second season, not because I liked listening to college kids yell at Tom Pritchard or because watching Tijon and Bawa nearly kill people was hysterically funny (though both statements are true), but because I wanted to be able to go to IU games when we were IU again. Not if. When.

And boy has it paid off. I was there last December when we beat UK. And I was there when we beat Ohio State on my birthday. And I was there this year to watch us curb stomp North Carolina and to see us dismantle Michigan. And I’ll be there next year. And for years to come when my son gets old enough to make the drive with me.

But as happy as I am to have seen all of this happen, and as thrilled as I am for tomorrow night, to see us capture the Big Ten title on Senior Night, for this group of guys, who came to IU at the same time I bought my season tickets, to get to give their senior night speeches where they thank Marni Mooney, their girlfriends, and probably their twitter followers the way these things have been going, this still wasn’t the goal.

A Big Ten title is a means to an end. It’s great, but this is IU. We’re supposed to win Big Ten titles. And Big Ten titles matter. They matter because they can’t be won without a lot of hard work. They matter because the great teams have won Big Ten titles and every team wants to be one of the great teams.

But mostly they matter because Big Ten champions get #1 seeds. And #1 seeds go to the Final Four.

And when we go to the Final Four, we hang banners (and occasionally presidents get shot, but let’s not dwell there too long).

And hanging the 6th banner is the goal. It always has been.

And it will be.

Until the goal is to hang the 7th banner. Or what I like to call, April.

 

Jeff Taylor