Coach Crean and IU have agreed to an eight-year $18.24 million deal that will pay him an average of $2.3 million per season. The new coach is quoted as saying:
I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are to join the Indiana University family. This is one of the elite institutions and basketball programs in America and we take the responsibility of upholding that tradition very seriously. We want to build a program that the people of Indiana can be proud of, both on and off the basketball court.
The Crean hire, however, has recharged my batteries.
Tom Crean was my number one choice two years ago when Greenspan hired Kelvin Sampson seemingly out of the blue. Evidently, Crean was not interested in position back then, or Greenspan did not show enough interest in him. I'm not sure which view is correct, if either of them, and I don't care. I'm just glad he is here now.
Crean is a solid recruiter, and he will be able to bring some of the top Indiana prep talent to Bloomington. He has an impeccable record. That is definitely needed, and not just because of the recent violations. Ethics are always a necessity; not only on the heels of unethical behavior, but in order to prevent unethical actions. Crean is young enough - 42 - to build the program, but he is experienced enough - 9 years at Marquette as head coach - to take over one of the nation's premier basketball programs.
He has a hard road to travel. Potentially, his best player next year will be DeAndre Thomas. DJ White and Lance Stemler just finished their senior season. Eric Gordon will most likely turn pro; remember, the Association drafts on potential not on proven ability. Jordan Crawford has threatened to transfer. Ellis and Bassett have been dismissed. Plus, IU's top two, and already signed, recruits - Terrell Holloway and Devin Ebanks - have requested to be released from their national letters-of-intent. No doubt, Coach Crean's most difficult work will not be the X's and O's, but the rebuilding of this program.
Rebuilding is the right word. The September 2000 firing of Bob Knight had followed six disappointing seasons. The eight years following Knight's dismissal have been abysmal, with only a few bright spots (Every IU fan needed 2002). This past season was supposed to be a bright spot, and it was until the NCAA released its report indicating that Kelvin Sampson had lied and cheated. I say cheated because breaking the rules for the second time is cheating, not an innocent mistake. Tom Crean will not be traveling south dragging unwanted baggage.
Check out the VodPod video suite to watch the BigTen Network's analysis of the hire, and here are some other links that you may want to visit.