This column will be updated later after the Fred Glass press conference this afternoon.
MILWAUKEE (WTHR) - He caved.
Fred Glass, a man of enormous intelligence and grace, normally, he caved.
Caved to the ridiculous amount of pressure that eternally comes to bear on the Indiana University basketball program. Caved to all the howls, all the screams from fans who wanted Tom Crean ousted despite the fact he’s won two outright Big Ten titles in the last five years. Caved to the criticisms that IU should be in the running for national titles each and every year, which is comical given the fact they haven’t been an A-plus program since Bob Knight roamed the sideline (with a one-year aberration in 2002 when Mike Davis took the Hoosiers to the national title game).
In the end, I think Glass, and most of the Hoosier Nation, is being unrealistic.
We’re not talking about accepting mediocrity; we’re talking about understanding the state of the program and the fact that IU hasn’t been a college-basketball behemoth for decades. Fact is, Crean cleaned up the dumpster fire that was left behind by Kelvin Sampson and his band of outlaws. Fact is, IU has been to the Sweet 16 just four times in 23 years; three of those times occurred under Crean. Again, two outright Big Ten titles in five years. Not bad.
Not great, or as great as Glass and IU fans think their program should be, but very, very good.
I say: They’re being unrealistic.
“After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program,’’ Glass said in a prepared statement. “Tom Crean brought us through one of the most challenging periods in IU basketball history, led his players to many successes in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with class an integrity. While winning two outright Big Ten titles in five years and being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Tom worked tirelessly to develop great young men and successful teams…’’
So he’s staying, right? Contract extension?
“However, 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. We will identify and recruit a coach who will meet these expectations.’’
Names: Gregg Marshall at Wichita State. Archie Miller at Dayton. Billy Donovan with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tony Bennett at Virginia. Chris Holtmann at Butler. (No, not Brad Stevens. He’s not going anywhere).
Glass did Crean and his program no favors this past week when he chose to play the first-round NIT game AT Georgia Tech rather than in Bloomington, suggesting the lack of fans, and the fact the students were on spring break, would create bad optics. That was puzzling to me because I thought the idea was to give your coaches and players their best opportunity to win and advance. What Glass did here was set Crean up for failure, and thus make this decision exponentially easier.
And now IU is starting all over.