First things first. It’s too early to pass judgement on Indiana University men’s basketball coach Archie Miller’s tenure in Bloomington.
But that hasn’t stopped negative chatter on a number of message boards. The Hoosier faithful are clearly unhappy with the way their team is playing this year.
And while no one is carving Miller’s tombstone just yet, you better believe they’ve taken his measurements for a coffin. You know, in case next year is as bad as this one.
No one expected IU to be this bad in Miller’s first year. And let’s be clear, they’re very bad. Huge losses to Indiana State and Fort Wayne were alarming. Tuesday’s effort against a Wisconsin team featuring multiple walk-ons was anguishing.
While Rome wasn’t built in a day, many IU fans are pointing to the success that former Butler University coach Chris Holtman is having in his first season at Ohio State.
Ohio State was not far from a dumpster fire last season, and the Buckeyes are 11-4 this season. IU is 8-7, and it looks like a losing record is a possibility now that we're in conference play.
Yes, there are a handful of great coaches who have done less-than-great things in their first year on the job, but don't think for a minute that IU fans have forgotten what Bob Knight accomplished in his first few dominant seasons in Bloomington.
One of the most diehard IU fans I know said after the Wisconsin game that he has “checked out until further notice.”
IU fans are not a patient bunch. And they’re less patient with the men’s basketball program than with anything else.
Eventually, if the IU hoops program doesn’t get straightened out, that lack of patience eventually could spill over into a waterfall of frustration on IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.
By many standards, Glass, a former Indianapolis attorney, has been a fine athletic administrator. He’s raised lots of cash and overseen several major construction projects at IU.
What he hasn’t managed to do is make IU supporters happy about the performance of the school’s two main money-generating sports. Let’s take a look at his track record.
Since Glass became athletic director in early 2009, he hired football coach Kevin Wilson in 2010--not exactly a warm, fuzzy face for the program. Glass then showed him the door December 2016 for reasons that still aren’t completely clear. In six seasons, Wilson guided IU to a 26-47 record.
Glass hired Tom Allen in 2016. And while the jury is still out on Allen, losing to Purdue in November and not making a bowl game this season didn’t do anything to enhance his legacy. Allen is 5-8 at IU. It bears noting that some IU supporters are excited about Allen’s most recent recruiting class.
While Glass didn’t hire former IU basketball coach Tom Crean, he did extend his contract through 2020, assuring Crean left the program with a very hefty financial package to fall back on when he was fired last year.
Miller is by far Glass' biggest hire so far, and he has stumbled out of the gate.
Glass has done a good job of managing the school’s non-revenue sports, and facilities have been upgraded with more improvements in the works.
But one big question persists: Does Glass know what he’s doing when it comes to hiring coaches in the ultra-competitive arenas of men’s basketball and football? IU fans are in no mood to hear about Glass' quality coaching hires (such as men's soccer coach Todd Yeagley) in the non-revenue-generating sports.
This much is clear. If Glass can’t get the football and basketball programs on solid footing in the next two years, it won’t be just the coaches' tombstones IU supporters will be carving.