No coach in the country felt his seat heat up faster than Indiana head coach Tom Crean.
He had one player (that was underage and had been drinking) put another player (that was underage and had been drinking) in the hospital for weeks with a serious head injury after accidentally hitting him with his car. Two days later, news broke that two of his players would be suspended after a positive drug test over the summer. This came on the heels of two incidents, involving three players, where a Hoosier ran afoul of the law in a situation that involved alcohol.
All in all, six players got in trouble for offenses that included a DWI (Hanner Mosquera-Perea), using a fake ID (Yogi Ferrell and Stanford Robinson), driving after drinking while underage (Emmitt Holt) and failing a drug test (Robinson and Troy Williams). That doesn’t include Devin Davis, who was released from the hospital this week.
Indiana fans were not happy. Players cannot be running around Bloomington like they own the place when the team isn’t winning. People gladly make excuses for college kids — Oh, it was just some weed! Everyone has a fake ID! — that mess up when they’re Final Four contenders. When they’re not, they start to call for the coach’s head. The distractions a program will tolerate directly correlate with talent level.
Back to the point on Wednesday, Williams and Robinson became the first members of that group to publicly apologize for what they did beyond a tweet or an instagram post.
“I know we let a lot of people down, teammates, coaching staff, family and definitely the fans,” Robinson told Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com. “But I think we’ve learned from it. Before I think we had a little idea of what it means to put on an Indiana jersey. Once this all happened and it went public, we saw what it really means to be a Hoosier.”
They even acknowledged just how much their actions hurt their coach.
“He went through a lot more than we had to go through,” Williams told O’Neil. “The fact that he kept us through all of this, we’re just grateful.”
Those two are saying all the right things, but it’s easy to say the right thing when you’ve been coached. The only way to know if they’re serious about it is to see if they stop doing dumb stuff in the future.
And an apology will only get you so far.
It’s not going to change the opinion of an Indiana booster pissed about missed the tournament last season and embarrassed to see the players getting in trouble. It’s not going to get Crean off the hot set.
The only way to apologize for that is to win games.
Williams and Robinson will be eligible on Thursday night when the Hoosiers host No. 22 SMU.