Glass stands as shatter-proof barrier between Crean and angry IU fans

February 19, 2014
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Well before problems with Assembly Hall’s ceiling surfaced on Tuesday, lots of IU faithful were screaming that the sky is falling.

Indiana men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has been lampooned early and often this season, with some school supporters even calling for his ouster. Several alumni who donate to the school told me over the past week that if Crean doesn’t get the ship righted next year, it’s time for him to pack his bags.

IU supporters were smoldering about Crean’s coaching and game-management skills heading into last week. A home loss to a marginal Penn State team on Wednesday—in which IU blew a late lead—ignited a firestorm, and a blowout loss to rival Purdue on Saturday added fuel to the fire.

Everybody, take a deep breath. No matter what happens the rest of this season, Crean isn’t going anywhere.

There’s one big reason Crean is staying put: IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.

Though Glass didn’t hire Crean, he has twice extended Crean’s contract, last season raising his annual salary nearly $600,000, to $3.16 million. Crean is now signed through 2020 and Glass isn’t about to eat the remainder of that contract.

Glass isn’t likely going to be feeling much heat from the people who matter most—his bosses at IU—to fire Crean, no matter how loud the jeering from school supporters might get.

Glass has most of the right people in his corner. Remember this: One of the primary reasons IU hired Glass was his connections to the corporate community—especially in central Indiana—and his ability to make it rain in Bloomington.

Well, earlier this year, Glass brought a $40 million shower to IU’s athletic department, courtesy of Cindy Simon Skjodt. As long as Glass is able to continue that kind of production, what he says concerning the athletic department goes.

As an example, note how the school’s trustees did an about-face on the issue of Assembly Hall. Before Glass arrived, trustees appeared set on replacing the aging basketball venue. But once Glass began to champion the case for remodeling the outdated arena, trustees started marching to Glass’ tune. That speaks to the power Glass has amassed since taking his job in Bloomington in 2009.

Even if Crean does not know the X's and O's of basketball, as his detractors say, Glass, who formerly worked on the staffs of Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, certainly knows how to diagram a political power play. He knows how to win the allegiance of the right people. He’s done a solid job of that in Bloomington.

So all those folks clamoring for Crean’s termination should listen to Glass closely when he talks about IU’s hoops coach.

Glass still was loudly singing the coach’s praises after IU’s loss to Penn State last week. He reminded IU fans that Crean, who took over a wretched IU program reeling from the Kelvin Sampson debacle, led the Hoosiers to their first outright regular-season Big Ten championship in 20 years just last season. He also hammered home that this year’s IU team is young, and he noted big wins over Michigan and Wisconsin.

He even noted how Michigan Coach John Beilein credited Crean’s defensive wizardry for the Hoosiers' upset victory over the Wolverines earlier this year.

Following the loss to Penn State, Glass called Crean “an elite coach” and said he has “complete and total confidence in him.” Glass noted that he’s admired Crean since his days at Marquette, where Glass’ son attended college.

Appearing on WFNI-AM after the Penn State game, Glass encouraged hostile IU hoops fans “to put away the pitchforks and torches. I’m thrilled Tom Crean is here.”

He may have been a little less thrilled after the Boilermakers shellacked the Hoosiers 82-64 on Saturday.

It’s fair to point out that Glass did eventually fire IU football coach Bill Lynch in 2010 despite being one of his most vocal supporters. Glass could no longer deny the need for change after Wisconsin that year whipped the Hoosiers 83-20.

But Lynch’s situation was totally different from Crean’s. He was making only $250,000 annually and had only one year left on his contract.

Still, it’s clear that even Glass has his threshold. He’s just not nearly there yet concerning Crean. Even if many IU fans are past theirs.

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  • Crean deserves support
    Totally agree ... Bossman Fred is focused on exactly the right things. The support that Crean showed our struggling Hoosier Nation in 08 now should be repaid with loyalty ... at least for a time. Up until the sweet sixteen loss, last year's team was the perfect representation to IU basketball.
  • Branch must be Cracken
    This column is true but sad. This is not going to end well for Crean. He will get at 3 more underperforming years. The problem is he is trying to recruit with the premier colleges. He is not getting the A players but the B+ players. The best will leave before 4 years and he has demonstrated he can't coach a reloaded team the way Coach K, Calipari or Self can. To say the team is young gives me no comfort. Most of the quality teams are young. In today's NCAA to be successful you have to take young kids and mold them quickly. Crean will never be able to do this. At best he is the 6th best coach in the Big Ten and a compelling argument can be made that he is lower than that. IU deserves better. On a side note don't be surprised if Etherington is at INdiana State next year
  • Patience
    Crean has six freshmen and five 2nd year players. Rednecks get a life.
    • Crean
      4th graders in this. State know what to do when taking the ball out of bounds. The Penn State loss was unconscieable!
    • Too Young?
      Too young to inbounds a pass, Dave?
    • Poor Dave
      Poor Dave - just started watching college basketball? Everybody wins with Freshman these days. They play one and done. So Creen obviously brought in the wrong freshman. His recruits - his losses - he needs to go
    • 9-10-Gone
      Six freshman and 5 second year players. Who might be responsible for that? I will repeat very SLOWLY. This should give no one any level of comfort. Vonleh may be gone at year's end (hopefully he stays another year for his and our benefit). Who's gonna play center or get any rebounds? Blackmon will at most play 2 years. Coaches have to take their young studs and win immediately. We are blessed that Yogi will not bolt to the NBA due to his size. Crean does get his guys to play hard but offensively they are a train wreck down the stretch of games because they do nothing away from the ball. Against Penn State how many times did Yogi hold the ball at the top of the key until there were 6-7 seconds left on the shot clock while everyone else stood and watched-then all we got was a bad forced shot. This has been a bad trend for several years and is reflective of the coaching or lack thereof. The underclassmen who will be here for 4 years are not of the caliber that will push IU to the upper levels of NCAA basketball. I wish they were but it is obvious they are not. Cody Zeller's time in a Hoosier uniform was pretty much wasted and I'm afraid the same will be true for the other few blue chip recruits.
    • Take some blame coach.
      I'm a season ticketholder and have started grumbling about Crean this year. I was at the Michigan game when he substituted in all the benchwarmers while we are on a run and it killed the vibe inside the arena and Michigan came charging back. While I find fault on his call, the biggest thing to me is that he won't admit that it was a mistake. Instead, he rambled on after the game about the guys needing to rest. The entire starting lineup??? At the exact same time??? Just admit it was a mistake, learn from it, and we will all move on. Oh, and maybe have the guys learn to inbound the ball and occasionally move on offense....
      • Stay the Course
        Let's not carried away folks. Tom Crean is an excellent coach and great motivator. Remember a guy named Victor Oladipo? I hear a number of vigorous IU faithful screaming for him to be removed from games his freshman and sophomore year because he didn't know the game and didn't have the skill. Wel,, how do you think he came to be the #2 pick in NBA? Hard work by him and the entire coaching staff. Who recruited and offered Jordan Huls? Why did Cody Zeller choose IU? Luke Fisher although gone came to IU, why? Answer to all of the above; Coach Tom Crean. The game is changing to be one and two years and done. We are all going to have to adapt. And as far as the Coach K comment? Coach K is my personal favorite coach of all time. How is Duke doing these days?
      • Kelly-Thank You for making my case
        Well as of Tuesday Duke was 20-5 and rankled #5--up from #8 the previous week. They struggled early but Coach K understands how to bring out the best in his players and can do this over the course of a season. Crean can and should take plently of credit for Victor. That was and still is a great story. Cody unfortunately improved very little during his stay. How is it that a team with two top 5 picks (and a bunch of seniors) gets waxed in the tournament. How can you use Luke Fisher as an example. He is gone and proves my point. He knows he made a mistake coming to IU. That is a shame because he is going to play great at Marquette. Again, you make my point that the coaches are only going to have these marquee kids for a couple years. Teams have to be molded quickly to play at a championship level (Duke). Did you see the last 2 games (amongst many others). What part of championship basketball did you see? Being the best each year is not expected, but being competitive should be the desire of all Hoosier fans.
      • Locker Room
        All you Creen-haters: where were you with your bad-coaching comments before the tournament loss? Creen is doing fine as long as he doesn't lose the players' respect. Aside from that, it all comes down to executing on the court. None of you are in the locker room but Glass is.
      • Recruits
        If Crean graduates Yogi, ie Yogi stays 4 years and he does not go to the final four or at least an elite 8 it is time to let him go. Crean will have had Cody, Victor, Yogi, Noah, Blackmon sorry but that is plenty of talent to get the job done. I only pray Brad Stevens will have had enough of the NBA and be willing to return home, cause that is the only coach I want. Look at Butler this year and tell me that is not because of the loss of Brad.
      • Find Knight
        What happened to our winning tradition? Winning brings in big dollars, too. Crean is not a good enough coach for IU, and our success bar has been set too low. He may be related to the Harbaughs, but none of their killer instincts, recruiting knack or coaching know-how is rubbing off. Who cares if we have had a few wins - we should win them all, plus the title. Someone find Coach Knight!
      • Glass Folly
        While players and coaches come and go...the worst part of the current situation is the bewildering decision to spend $40 million to "remodel" a horrible basketball arena. No improvement in the seating - sitting under the overhang or in the top level is simply terrible. And now...watch out for flying objects! IU could use this as seed money to get the ball rolling on a modern arena...IU alumni and fans will support a new arena. If it is time for a change - look at the AD.
      • If Not Last Year, Then When?
        If Coach Crean can not win a title with last year's team, sadly, it will never happen. This is Indiana, not Purdue, the season is defined in March.
      • Stay the course with Coach Crean
        Sure I'm disappointed in how things have gone for the Hoosiers this year. But I'm not ready to give up on Coach Crean. When my IU friends say, "He's gotta go!", I ask, "OK, then who are you going to get to replace him - realistically speaking?" Perhaps CTC should take a harder look at his coaching staff and wonder if they're not the right men for the job of getting these young players ready to play...right away? Any sane fan knew this would be a tough year for the Hoosiers; even tougher considering the success of the past two seasons. That IU would fall so far is a bitter reality but shouldn't be a total surprise.
      • Disappointed
        I was a big fan of CTC, admired his work at MARQ, and felt he was a good choice to replace Davis, let alone Sampson. To his credit there is no doubt that he cleaned up a toxic mess and restored IU to respectability. That being said, he has done a very poor job of both recruiting and coaching over the last two years. This particular team is horribly unfocused and fundamentally weak - an insult to long time IU fans - and the results we see game after game are entirely CTC's fault. Between last year's tournament meltdown and this year's bungling I have sadly come to the conclusion that CTC is not the guy who can bring IU to the same heights of success that we once enjoyed. What's equally possible is that - like UCLA - IU will never again be the feared big dog. Perhaps we diehards should enjoy teams like Creighton and Wichita State instead while we can, and remember when teamwork mattered.
        • Get A Life
          Coach Crean is fine and is recruiting high caliber and highly rated athletes. Unfortunately the sophomore class has not performed to the level one would have expected out of a very highly rated class. One of the problems this year has been a lack of quality outside shooting. The 3 recruits in the Class of 2014 all shoot very the long ball very well.
        • is ctc blind
          we all know V will be a power forward in the nba-right now crean asks for a traffic jam in the middle with his usage of V-put MP in the post,and let V roam around the circle-has anyone stopped him on a drive? even yogi s lanes would get larger -get in the game,tommy boy
        • What about last year?
          Last year, Crean had 2 top 5 NBA draft picks and 5 current or eventual 1,000 point career scorers, but he couldn't get out of the Sweet 16. He had one of the best 3pt shooting teams in the country, but he couldn't beat a zone? (Yes, Syracuse's zone is unlike any other, but still) Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, and how many other B1G coaches would have taken IU's team much farther last year...??? Look at how badly he got outcoached by Brad Stevens in the Crossroads Classic last time IU played Butler. The fact of the matter is, the guy's a total spaz on the sidelines. If he has an ounce of technical basketball knowledge, he sure doesn't prove it during games.
        • Crean
          Simply said Crean is an excellent recruiter and terrible coach. His game execution is piss poor, the only reason we win the games that we do is because the talent of yogi will take over a game not the coaching of Tom Crean. To win you not only need great athletes but also a great coach. Right now we have above average athletes and a subpar coach.
        • Oh Hoosiers!!!
          My god Indiana fans!!! Crean has done a good job..you guys need to understand that Bob Knight is not going to walk in that door ever again..as soon as you guys understand that the better off you will be. And besides, you weren't that good the latter years he was there anyway
          • IUBB
            And whose fault is that, having let Roth, Creek and Abel leave, upper classmen who could shoot the ball
          • obsevation
            I notice that virtually all the Crean supportors are NOT IU fans but casual observers.Worry about your own teams, we'll worry about ours.

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          1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

          2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

          3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

          4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

          5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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