Lilly Donahue | Indiana University
Today is a day that may IU fans are rejoicing, but for others, like myself, it is one of sadness. IU basketball coach Tom Crean was fired today after 9 years with the program. His record as a Hoosier stands at 166-135, a winning one. Crean leaves a legacy of class, academic success, and resurgence with the IU program that loyal fans would be foolish to forget. Despite some disappointments, I was proud of his time at IU and the positive attitude he brought to the job. As the door closes on his time in Bloomington, let’s take a look back at his career with the Hoosiers.
The fact that Crean left IU with a winning record is especially impressive if you consider where IU was at when he arrived. Crean began his tenure at IU in 2008 during a dark time in IUBB history. The recruiting violations of Kelvin Sampson had gutted the program, and Crean had only 2 walk-ons on his roster when he began. The first three years of the Crean era were understandably painful, with dismal season after dismal season. 2011 was the year of change, when Crean snagged 5-star recruit Cody Zeller out of Washington, IN. The 2011-12 season was a magical one, with IU making a run to the Sweet Sixteen, and, even more memorably, Christian Watford hitting a three at the buzzer to defeat then-number 1 Kentucky. The next year was even better, with a Sweet Sixteen run and a Big Ten Title. President Barack Obama even picked IU to win the NCAA championship. Crean had two of the top four picks in that year’s NBA draft in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. The next year was a down year, but in 2014-15 IU came back the tournament, losing in the opening round. In 2015-16, IU went to the Sweet Sixteen and won the Big Ten with the help of current NBA players Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams. This year started well, but IU was plagued by injuries to star players like OG Anunoby and others, and the season ended with an NIT berth. After the IU Athletic Department foolishly refused to not play the NIT game at IU, the Hoosiers fell before a rowdy Atlanta crowd, and Crean was fired soon after.
The IU Athletic Department is on thin ice now. They have the opportunity to start fresh, but with whom? IU fans always float Brad Steven’s name, but just yesterday he said he has no interest in leaving the NBA. Others proposed Villanova’s Jay Wright, which is equally unlikely. Unless IU has a strong replacement for Crean, they may be digging themselves into a major hole. I see this firing as problematic unless a strong, proven coach can replace Crean. I believe Crean deserved one more year with a healthy squad, but IU fans’ unreasonably high expectations got in the way. Fans want national titles, but those don’t come easily or swiftly. Fans who reference Bobby Knight as the standard for a coach are dead wrong. While Knight had on-court success, he was and still is a terrible human being. He was verbally and physically abusive to his players, punched a police officer in Puerto Rico, has been accused of trying to choke fans, and has done a whole host of other awful acts. Just last week he wished death on any surviving administrators from his firing. I am a long-time, die-hard IU fan, and all Bobby Knight is to me is an embarrassment. While Crean did not mirror Knight’s on-court success, he was someone the university could be proud of, and I’d take Crean over Knight any day.
Thank you Coach Crean, for everything.