Tom Crean has been fired by Indiana after nine seasons as head coach.
“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,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement released at the exact moment that the NCAA tournament kicked off on Thursday afternoon.
Crean was coming off of a Big Ten regular season title and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2016, but the Hoosiers took a step back this season. After knocking off Kansas and North Carolina in November, Indiana missed the NCAA tournament and lost in the first round of the NIT. That was a road game despite the fact that the Hoosiers were a higher seed, a decision that was made to hide the fact that Assembly Hall would have been empty.
The Hoosiers went 18-16 this season and just 7-11 in the Big Ten.
The decision to part ways with Crean is not all that surprising. There was some speculation that he may get another year, but another year wouldn’t have solved the problems. The relationship between Crean and the Indiana fan base had reached the point where there wasn’t going to be a reconciliation. This was a marriage that needed to end so both parties could move on.
And let it be known, Tom Crean had a successful run with the Hoosiers. He won the outright Big Ten title in 2013 and 2016. He rebuilt a program that was driven into the ground by Kelvin Sampson.
But this was a move that needed to happen.
You may love your ex-wife, but that doesn’t mean you should still be married.
The question now becomes who Indiana can and will target, and that list is where things get fun.
The first name that Indiana has to call is Brad Stevens, the former Butler and current Boston Celtics head coach. He’s probably going to say no, but Indiana has to shoot their shot.
Once Stevens says no is when things get interesting. The trendy name of late has been Steve Alford, the former Indiana star and native Hoosier whose son is graduating from UCLA this year. But Indiana is a job that can attract some big names, names that have said no to other high-major openings in the past — Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Dayton’s Archie Miller, Xavier’s Chris Mack — and I’d be surprised if Butler Chris Holtmann didn’t get a look as well.
Indiana was the big domino that needed to fall.
Now the coaching carousel can kick into high gear.