And just like that, as the ball was tossed to begin the 2017 NCAA tournament – yet another NCAA tournament without Indiana Basketball, Tom Crean was fired.
That’s some kind of timing.
And I only mention the timing because sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about Tom Crean here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Tom Crean, in Bloomington, in 2008.
Tom Crean was the right man to replace Kelvin Sampson. IU was at it’s lowest point ever and we needed a clean start with a proven coach who was going to rebuild the program based on all of the principles that IU fans like to espouse; winning the right way, graduating players, recruiting Indiana kids, and for the love of all that is holy not cheating and lying the way most men breathe.
We needed a fresh start. A clean break. A chance to rebuild from the ashes.
Tom Crean did that.
Thank you Tom Crean.
It wasn’t easy. In fact it was much harder than even he imagined when he took the job. All he had to work with was Kyle Taber, a stack of unopened text books, and a considerable amount of bong residue (I assume). But he did it.
He brought in players we could love and root for, Zeller, Hulls, Roth, Watford, Oladipo, Yogi, and more. And he beat Kentucky. Remember that? If the thought of that game doesn’t still give you chills, you have no soul. Sorry to be blunt. No soul.
We were #1 again.
Kyle Taber to #1 again. That’s what Tom Crean did.
And maybe that’s Crean’s strength. Maybe that’s the thing that makes him truly unique as a coach. Maybe he’s the Michael Clayton of college basketball coaches.
He was the man for his particular time and place, but now, it seems, is no longer that time. And Bloomington is no longer that place.
So, we’re left to ask, in our best Sean Connery voices, “Who’s the man now, dog?”
I’ll tell you what my gut says, and it’s the exact opposite of what my gut said in 2008 when I thought this guy was the absolute wrong choice because IU basketball needed to go find itself again, with fresh people and new perspectives. My gut says Steve Alford.
Indiana needs to once again become the destination for Indiana kids, and Alford has never lost his ability to recruit the state. He gives IU fans, you know the ones who have been complaining about substitution patterns since we lost to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, all of the warm feelings in their insides that they’ve been missing these last few years.
In 2008, we needed to feel clean. In 2017, we want to feel good. And doesn’t the thought of Steve Alford wearing red again feel good?
2008 was the time for Tom Crean. 2017 is the time for Steve Alford to finally return home.