Brad Stevens said no to Indiana several times. The first rebuff was ignored. We listened to the second. At least most of us did.
Some are still holding out hope that some miracle occurs, and the rejections are revealed to be an effort by Stevens to disguise his rabid interest in returning home until the end of the season. Even for crazed IU fans who live in a perpetual state of mediocrity induced hallucination, that’s a stretch.
They don’t call it Hoosier Hysteria for nothing.
Assuming crazy fans aren’t somehow correct in thinking that Indiana and Stevens will wait out the end of this NBA season to finally reach an accord, there are three options for athletic director Scott Dolson.
- Option One – Select from the list of out of work coaches who have achieved success with other programs. Thad Matta and John Beilein head this group favored by those who value past glories authored by former Big 10 coaches.
- Option Two is to choose from frequently discussed current coaches succeeding at the level Indiana would like to return to. Porter Moser and Chris Beard are big with fans who covet the successes of Loyola and Texas Tech. There are a bunch of others, whose names will get hotter as underdogs continue advancing in the NCAA Tournament.
- Option Three is to select from within the Indiana University family, which includes virtually any coach who has ever played at Indiana. The thought is that it takes an Indiana man to know what Indiana needs.
Previous athletic directors have made the last three Indiana hires using Option Two. According to rumors, Oklahoma’s Kelvin Sampson was supposedly hired by IU president Adam Herbert in 2006 over the protest of AD Rick Greenspan, who favored Beilein. Two years later, Tom Crean of Marquette was hired to replace Sampson after an internal audit revealed multiple predictable NCAA violations. When Crean’s energy became toxic in 2017, Dayton’s Archie Miller was tabbed as the new hope to resurrect IU’s blue blood status.
Now, here we are again. Given the dearth of success of hiring via the thrice failed second option, I hope Dolson doesn’t venture down that road for a fourth time.
As for option one, choosing between a 68-year-old who decided two years ago to abandon his successful program at Michigan and a guy whose health deteriorated at Ohio State to the point he was forced to walk away, I’m not sure either make a lot of long term sense.
That leaves us with hiring from within the program’s historical greatness to revive it. It might not make a lot of sense to embrace the Indiana legacy plan, but it has to work better than a methodology proven ineffective in three straight searches or plucking proven winners out of retirement. Michigan State assistant Dane Fife and former Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson are among alums who appear most qualified.
Whichever Dolson chooses, he will do it without a search committee or a search firm, which gives me hope he will get it right. The IU job is about fit, and the bigger the pool of those consulted, the more likely an attractive resume’ will be hired instead of the right coach.
With Stevens out of the mix, Dolson has no perfect options. Whether he tabs Beilein, Matta, Beard, Moser, Fife, Woodson, or someone else, there will be cheers and boos. The hire will represent a reason for hope or doom depending upon the fan’s belief in how Dolson has gone about the business of making the most important hire of his era.
I have my personal preference, but I will embrace anyone who Dolson anoints as long as the hire comes without the input of nattering boosters who demand that millions of dollars in donations buys them a seat at a table for one.
I don’t believe that we necessarily need an IU guy to coach the team. Dakich seems to think so. He has said that it takes an Indiana guy to understand Indiana Basketball. I don’t think that his observation is necessarily true. I loved to watch Mike Woodson play at IU but, after many years in the NBA, I am not sure that Woodson presents the best option for us now. I will make a note here that Kent seems to have thrown Dakich under the bus. Kent seemed to be rabid about tapping Dakich in previous posts; now, he never mentions him.
In the category of non-IU guys, I am not confident that either Beilein or Matta would be great choices. There is no question that these guys are great coaches; but, do they still have the fire in their belly to produce a national champion. I don’t think so. Too much water has flowed past the bridge.
Dane Fife intrigues me. He’s an IU guy that has played for Knight and coached under Tom Izzo. This is a pretty good background as far as I am concerned. He’s young, and I am sure that he has a burning desire to make IU a champion again. I say give him a chance to succeed. I don’t think that there will be any large buy-out here. I would offer a 3-year contract at $1.0M a year.
I the mean time for the rest of you IU nation, if you are expecting IU to immediately rebound to excellence, think again. It is probably going to be another long hard slog.
PITINO. Pay it. Win.
I agree on Fife and have been thinking about this for a few years. He’s still relatively young and aggressive. He not only understands IU tradition from experience but embraces the style of game play that keeps programs consistent year after year. He is unproven as a head coach so he wouldn’t have the ridiculous price tag of our typical lottery picks…and yes IU re build will NOT happen overnight but will take a level of patience that Hoosier fans may not have. That being said IU has private connections to finances that will probably lead to another Mercedes level purchase with no warranty to cover the high sticker price.
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