Monday, April 7, 2008

Darling! But This Is So Sudden ...

A good many people at Indiana University are in a tizzy over the new basketball coach, Tom Crean, who was lured away from Marquette in mid-semester with some hefty incentives. Crean, we’re told in this student-paper editorial, is squeaky-clean: no recruiting violations, no payments to players, “no excessive phone calls” (?). And I think this part of the editorial is very cute:

You know it’s a big day for IU basketball when, on the day that former President Bill Clinton visits Assembly Hall, he’s not even the biggest story on campus. No, the hiring of Tom Crean as men’s basketball head coach took the headlines last week, and rightfully so.

Guess who decided that Crean’s manifestation in the flesh in Bloomington would take the headlines? Why, the editors of the paper, most probably including some of the same people who wrote this editorial. Mark my words, there’s a future for these kids in the Mainstream Media.

Almost as cute is their claim that Crean’s advent is “a much needed beacon of hope” for IU. Does this mean I should write him in on the primary ballot in May? Or for the top spot in November?

Yes, I’m cynical and skeptical. I’ve lived through three NCAA basketball victories in this city over the past 30-odd years, plus the occasional riot celebrating lesser victories and even near-misses, so I have no stake in seeing IU field a champion team again -- rather the opposite. And there’s something rushed about this deal, even to someone like me who wasn’t paying much attention to it. Last weekend I eavesdropped on a conversation about it all involving some people much more knowledgeable than I, and it seems that IU rushed the agreement through pretty hastily. Was Crean being wooed by some other school? Or did IU, on the rebound after a series of disappointing, scandalous coaches, rush into the arms of the first guy with a clean-cut look and a desert-sun tan, someone who’d promise to respect it in the morning? (Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’…) I seem to recall that Kelvin Sampson, Crean’s predecessor with the excessive phone calls, was also hailed as a New Hope at first.

Oh well, it’s not really my concern. Even that huge salary, and the cost of buying him out of Marquette … But the overheated language: “beacon of hope,” “redemption,” “the Crean-and-crimson faithful” – you’d think they were talking about a presidential candidate. There I go blaspheming again. If I’m killed by a suicide bomber wearing cream and crimson, who screams “IU is Number One!” just before he detonates, you’ll know why.

P.S. 2012: While trying to update the links to this post, I found this:

With apologies to Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan and President Michael McRobbie, the real leader of IU is its men’s basketball coach.
He says that like it's a good thing. And then people huff and puff and complain when they discover that many students don't see study as the real reason they're at college.