The Chicago Sun-Times steps to the plate and other miscellany.

This search has been short on idiocy, but the Chicago Sun-Times is trying to make up for lost time. Here's what the S-T (via Inside the Hall) says:
Indiana University is expected to contact former Bulls coach Scott Skiles as it launches its coaching search, according to a source. Skiles was born in LaPorte, Ind. and led Plymouth High School to the 1982 Indiana state championship.
He’s maintained a house in Bloomington, Ind., where he is now and lives during the NBA’s offseason. The Bulls fired Skiles on Dec. 24. He went 165-172 and helped turn around a laughingstock of an organization into a playoff team that advanced to the second round last year. Skiles would not comment on the possibility of coaching Indiana.
Who says? "A source." Not "a source close to the search," not "a source with knowledge of the Indiana athletic department," just "a source." If the S-T had any more information on this source that would explain why we should believe him or her, the S-T would give us that information.
Skiles, like Randy Wittman and Steve Alford the last time around, strikes me as a "conventional wisdom candidate." He's from Indiana, he lives in Bloomington, so of course he is the subject of rumors. During the last search, I heard from superficially credible, connected people that Steve Alford had been given the job and it was just a matter of time. I heard the exact same thing about Randy Wittman. Now, I realize that I may end up being the idiot. Perhaps Scott Skiles will be the coach. If I were running IU's athletic department, I would have grave reservations about hiring a coach who never has had a professional reason to crack open the NCAA rulebook to lead a program that will be on probation, but anything can happen. Again, I may be wrong, and did not foresee Sampson last time, but I will be surprised if Skiles is the pick, and even more surprised if there is anything to this report.
In other news, I have heard through the grapevine that on ESPN Radio this morning, Mike & Mike declared that if IU beats North Carolina, "how can Indiana not hire Dakich," etc. I hope, first of all, that IU doesn't get run off the court by Arkansas. But suppose that IU and North Carolina do play in the second round. IU, until this week, was ranked all season long and spent some time in the top 10. Even after last week's losses to Penn State and Minnesota, IU is ranked between 16 and 23 by the major computer rankings. ESPN "Bracketologist" Joe Lunardi still expected IU to be a 5 seed. IU has two of the best players in the country (DJ White and Eric Gordon) and two other guards (Armon Bassett and Jordan Crawford) who are capable of taking over games when they are shooting well. If those four guys play well and if Tyler Hansbrough gets in foul trouble, it's not at all difficult to imagine IU beating UNC, and it wouldn't be among the top 50 upsets in NCAA Tournament history.
To be clear, I don't expect it to happen. I wouldn't even take even odds for the Arkansas game. But even if the NCAA selection committee is correct, IU is the #32 team in the country. If IU plays like it did for most of the season, IU is probably more like a #10-#15 team. Top-ranked teams lose to teams like this IU team multiple times every single year. There are bigger upsets in the NCAA Tournament every year. The idea that the outcome of one 40-minute game between two talented teams should be the only consideration in a search for a long-term leader for the IU basketball program is batshit. It's absurd and insane, and having been through this interim garbage before, I'm really sick of it. Why do media members so love every single interim coach? In 2000-01, two Big Ten programs were led by interim coaches: IU by Mike Davis and Wisconsin by Brad Soderberg. IU caved to media pressure and hired a guy who isn't fit to be a head coach anywhere, and despite the improbable run in 2002 the program still hasn't recovered. Wisconsin, despite a nice season and NCAA Tournament bid, conducted a thoughtful search and came up with a guy who has turned Wisconsin (Wisconsin!) into one of the best programs in the country. The idea that one upset win entitles an interim coach to a long-term contract worth millions of dollars just makes my blood boil.
Other miscellaneous items:
  • Yes, IU appointed a committee this week. I haven't commented because I don't think it's a big deal. I would guess that Greenspan still be be doing the legwork on the candidates and that the committee will be in more of a strategic, thumbs-up-thumbs-down position rather than watching game film and breaking down statistics.
  • This has nothing to do with IU or with basketball (and it's about Northwestern, so it certainly has nothing to do with the NCAA Tournament), but Lake the Posts, an excellent blog that covers with good humor the Big Ten's least prestigious athletic department, has committed acts of journalism. In 2005, before the LTP blog existed, its author conducted an in-depth video interview of former Northwestern football coach Gary Barnett, and LTP is rolling out the video in a multi-part series this week. Even if you don't care a bit about Northwestern, it's no exaggeration to say that Barnett's turnaround of the NU football program is one of the most remarkable stories in the history of American sport. Check it out. Part one is here.


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