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Tom Crean: Conflicting Viewpoints

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Two completely different viewpoints on Tom Crean's future and why one of them is terrible and wrong.

Two pictures of pouty Tom Crean on our front page?  It must be March.
Two pictures of pouty Tom Crean on our front page? It must be March.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

KRAVITZ: "Despite IU’s slump, despite the angry noise, Crean will stay!"

The men's basketball team over at Indiana University is struggling, but head coach Tom Crean isn't going anywhere.  Well, that is, at least according to legendary Indianapolis sports columnist and New England Patriots super fan Bob Kravitz.  After a disappointing home loss to Iowa on Tuesday night, with the Hoosiers left planted firmly on top of the bubble (depending on who you talk to) right alongside the Boilermakers, WTHR Indianapolis Channel 13's Kravitz posted this article to help ease the fan base into the harsh realization of the team's clouded future under the guidance of their current head coach.  He assures everyone that, no matter what happens for the remainder of this season in terms of wins and losses, Crean definitely isn't going anywhere.  Well, maybe.  Well, I guess it depends on how you interpret each paragraph.

Whatever you do, don't try to read Bob's tweets before, during, or after you read his article.  Just as the paragraphs within the column seem to twist and turn and seemingly negate themselves, his tweets from earlier basically contradict his viewpoint in the article.  Kravitz, to his credit, addresses this by letting the reader know that he changed his mind after he thought about it for a while.  Good enough for me.  I change my mind all the time.  For instance, this article was much longer when I originally started it last night.  This morning, I went over it again with a level head and realized that it was way too long so I cut it in half because I value your time much more than my own.

Kravitz, formerly of Sports Illustrated and also a graduate of Indiana University, makes many interesting points in defense of keeping Tom Crean in Bloomington.   He talks about looking at the entire "six-plus-year body of work" that Crean has accomplished at IU.  He specifically points out their "several" NCAA tournament appearances and, of course, the Sweet 16s.   I'm not sure if I would choose to highlight a complete six-year body of work that includes just two NCAA appearances, two wins in the B1G tourney, and a seriously talented #1 seed team collapsing in the Sweet 16.  After all, as he goes on to point out later in the column, this is Indiana, not Gardner-Webb (slick jab at Purdue there, Bob).  As one of the most storied programs in the country, they have much higher expectations.  They do things differently.

Kravitz: "Feel free to disagree, loudly – and you will -- but I firmly expect Crean will be back on the IU bench next season no matter how badly things spiral downward the last weeks of this season."

He goes on to talk about other reasons why Athletic Director Fred Glass should consider keeping Crean on for a longer period.  The team is young, they lack size, and they... seem lost without any sense of  direction or accountability from their coach?  Wait, what?

It's like he mashed together two articles with two completely different opinions, one for keeping Tom Crean and another for firing him. Which is it?  Is the fan base expected to maintain the high expectations of a proud and storied program that demands excellence?  Are they supposed to be patient and understanding of a coach that had the courage to step in and resurrect a program left in shambles by Kelvin Sampson?

I have no idea, but that article sure was strangely written and, if I'm an IU fan (I'm not, I promise) I have absolutely no idea what he was trying to accomplish.  I'm a Boilermaker.  I don't really care too much about who is coaching the Hoosiers as long as we're beating them on a consistent basis.  But, wait, do we really want him to stay?  Is it better for Purdue to have Crean continue to gloriously underachieve, over recruit, and fail to deliver?  I'm not sure I know just yet, but you bet your ass that his shortcomings as a coach had at least something to do with our season sweep this year.

Look, I get that a lot of things went wrong that were mostly out of Crean's control (Sampson fiasco, Vonleh and Fischer leaving, roofs collapsing, etc.), but his article was extremely flawed, misguided, and just plain bizarre.

Also, HOW DO YOU WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT TOM CREAN'S FUTURE WITHOUT MENTIONING HIS BUYOUT?!?  The word "contract" isn't even in the article.  There's not even a single dollar sign!!!  NOT ONE! To leave out what might be the single most important factor involved in the decision is an absolute travesty and Indiana fans deserve better journalism than that!   Their alumni consist of more than 30 Pulitzer Prize winners!  (Editor's Note: None of these winners have stepped foot on the moon)


ENTER THE VOICE OF REASON!

Indy Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel is a cool character.  He probably stayed up long after the game had ended last night and enjoyed a couple of cocktails while entertaining several interesting and mysterious guests.  He proudly wears salmon-colored shirts in public and I'm almost certain that he owns at least one cowboy hat.

Gregg Doyel woke up this morning and decided he was going to write an opinion piece about Tom Crean's future as the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers.  He was going to have that article contain facts, figures, and anecdotes and organize them in such a way that the reader has no choice but to, at the very least, consider his opinion as relevant.  He uses humor.  He includes hyperlinks to related content to enhance your experience.  He even put up a damn video.  I think you see where I'm going with this.

Doyel: "Tom Crean's fate no longer in Tom Crean's hands."

Gregg Doyel is of the opinion that Tom Crean no longer controls his own future at Indiana, and he's probably right.  He talks about "Creaning" and why it's bad for Indiana.  He points out how Indiana's bright start to the season had temporarily hushed the small army of alumni and fans that were calling for Crean's job during a tumultuous off-season.  He explains how their season derailed and why the Hoosiers are probably closer than everyone thinks to losing their head coach.

He even brought up the buyout situation.  He also used several dollar signs and threw in the word "contract" at least once.  I was pleased.

What surprised me most about this column (and is also the reason that I'm pointing it out to you on a Purdue blog of all places) is that he explains why most of us are wrong about Tom Crean's contract and how we could end up seeing a new coach at the reins much sooner than expected.

Most people look at the amount of money that IU would have to pay if they got rid of Tom Crean before next season as his job security.  $11 million?  There's no way that they would pay that to get rid of him.  Would they?  Morgan Burke sure as hell wouldn't pay it.  But... this is Indiana.  They do things differently.

Doyel argues that it could happen at IU, but only if Hoosier fans get angry enough.  What Bob Kravitz used as a reason to convince folks in Bloomington to be more patient and to give Crean more time (the team wasn't even supposed to be any good this year), Doyel turns around and explains that it's actually a better reason for Indiana fans to become even more impatient.  Why wasn't the team supposed to be any good this year?  This is Indiana, for crying out loud.  Why is the head coach of a proud and storied program entering his 7th season at the helm with so many roster issues?  Why aren't they preparing to win a national title?  Why are they settling for mediocrity all of a sudden?  This is Indiana.

Anyway, I apologize for posting this IU-centric hogwash on our front page but, as their rival, I thought this was a story worth talking about.  If you've made it this far, I thank you for reading and I hope we end up with a good discussion out of it.  Sorry if I was too harsh.

Most of what I'm hearing from fellow Boilermakers, be it on our message boards here or on Twitter and Facebook, is that Crean isn't going anywhere because the buyout is so large.  Hell, I've been saying for months that they're stuck with him for at least one more year (but probably two) and that still might be the case.   However, I think we might have been underestimating how fed up our neighbors in Bloomington really are with this guy.  I thought they'd be forced to wait and pay the $4 million in 2 years but it sounds like there might be growing support to have some sort of massive bake sale to get enough dough together to run Tom Crean right out of town.  I know many of us aren't ready to see him go just yet, but I think it has the potential to happen pretty rapidly, regardless of how they finish this season.

Doyel - "Creaning is a thing, and it's an unsavory thing, and it's a reason — but just one reason, and not even the biggest reason — that Tom Crean is near the point where his future at Indiana is out of his hands."

I have never knowingly in my life ever given a positive recommendation to anything having to do with the Indy Star, but if you haven't read Doyel's article yet, you should.  He even occasionally says some nice things about Purdue, and I'm fairly certain that you will enjoy his final remarks about "Creaning".  Read his article.  Watch the video.  When you're done, immediately return to Hammer and Rails and kindly click on every single link that you see.