Because it's Christmas! It's the end of the year! Tis' the season for listicles to summarize the year that was! It's been a big year of change for us here at TCQ, and the headlines came right along with it. We take a look back at 12 things you should remember most from 2014 -- and what they mean for the future of IU athletics.
1. You will never be able to explain just how good Tevin Coleman really was to those who didn't see him play. His greatness at Indiana is something indescribable and attempting to explain or rationalize it to those that didn't see Number 6 is a task for a fool. Forever, he'll be overshadowed by Melvin Gordon, Marcus Mariota, JT Barrett, and others -- he didn't get that Heisman recognition. Because his team wasn't good. But yet just that, paradoxically, is what made Coleman so good. Once Nate Sudfeld went down for the season at Iowa, Coleman's offensive numbers were tethered to a young, snakebitten offense. A true freshman quarterback stepped in and struggled to deliver the ball to young recievers, and even when that ball was delivered properly, it was so often dropped. And his carries were so often limited, possibly to protect his future professional upside. Still, opponents knew exactly what was coming from Indiana's offense when 6 was on the field -- and not only could they not stop it, they frequently couldn't even touch it. The man has some superhuman blend of speed, strength, and field vision that I have never seen before out of a back, college or pro. He is the player to which statistics will never due full justice -- because there's no column in the book for "!!!" moments. Oh, and the dude still ran for 2,000 yards. That's how good Tevin Coleman was. But if you try to explain that to those that didn't see him play, you'll be dismissed as a fool.
2. Sometimes, good kids make really bad, dumb decisions. Hanner Perea picked up a DUI. Yogi Ferrell and Stan Robinson tried to use a fake ID when they have the most recognizable likeness in the city. Robinson and Troy Williams probably smoked marijuana. Emmitt Holt, likely, had a single drink underage. And alcohol certainly played huge role in Devin Davis' decision to run into the street on that Halloween night. All of those decisions are certainly, hugely regrettable. But it doesn't mean those kids are bad kids. It doesn't mean the coach was wholly negligent in looking out for the well-being of those on his team. Not one bit. Not at all. In the age of thinkless hot-takes and knee-jerk reactions, the easiest sentiment to express in 140 characters or less is one of outrage. Over-arching, hurtful generalizations about the intent of the players, the student-athletes, involved. So often, nuance is lost in discussing a controversial topic in sports, politics, or otherwise. Everything must be full-on, overwhelming judgment of one party or another. We want fault. We want blame. Heads must roll. But maybe that's not always the best option. Maybe banishing players from the program isn't always the best recourse. Maybe firing the coach (for events almost totally out of his control) isn't always the necessary endgame. Those opinions drive clicks and ratings, sure. In an ideal world, those events don't happen. Players should take more care about when, where, and how much they choose to indulge. Coaches should maybe instill a culture that dissuades players from those behaviors. But it's probably best to skip broad character assassinations when discussing the use of alcohol by college students in the future.
3. Tom Crean should be coaching his way back into Hoosier fans' good graces. Despite all that and an abberation loss to a pretty-darn-good Eastern Washington team, an undermanned-in-the-post Indiana team might slowly-and-surely might be working its way to a end-of-season Top 15 ranking. The Hoosiers are beating good teams again in SMU, Pitt, and Butler -- and that's a heckuva lot more than probably any other Big Ten team not-named Wisconsin can claim.
4. Elite college baseball is here to stay in Bloomington. The man who built it is gone. The stars are gone. But there's no reason trips to Omaha shouldn't become a trend for the Hoosiers. In losing Tracy Smith to Arizona State, Indiana is down a downright-weird-at-times, Call-Of-Duty playing, country-music-singing, highly-quotable baseball savant. The stars of the run are gone, too. Kyle Schwarber's name is now mentioned along with Kris Bryant and Javy Baez, and Sam Travis is making his way as the possible first-base future of Beantown. But the cupboard his hardly bare of talent in Bloomington. And if there's a man that can replace any losses, it's former Louisville assistant turned Hoosier skipper Chris Lemonis -- who is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in all of college baseball. Pair that with the midwestern gem that is Bart Kaufman Field and you can be sure that baseball is here to stay in Bloomington.
5. Curt Miller's departure is the biggest head-scratcher you forgot about. Remember Curt Miller? The guy seemed destined to turn around Indiana's women's basketball program? You know, the guy who recruited freshman phenom Tyra Buss? The reasons for Miller's sudden resignation are still not known, and likely never will be. There have been theories and underchannel I-know-a-guy-who-know-a-guy rumors, none of which have had any substance. Former Indiana State coach Teri Moren has since taken over the program and it's gone swimmingly -- but the questions around Miller's departure still linger in Bloomington.
6. Kevin Wilson owns the Big Ten's best non-conference win in a long time. Here's a complete list of times a Big Ten team has defeated a ranked SEC foe on the road in the modern era of college football: Indiana at Missouri, 2014. That's it. That's all. A win over the now two-time SEC East champs, on the road, in Columbia. The Big Ten's first regular season win over a ranked SEC team since 1988. While detractors can point to the Bowling Green loss a week prior, the Missouri win showed what this team could have been. STILL WAITING ON THAT TROPHY, SLIVE.
7. Indiana doesn't play in the CBI. A disappointing 17-15 season left Tom Crean's 2013-14 Hoosiers looking in from the outside upon the conclusion NCAA and NIT selection shows. Despite being offered an invitation to play in the College Basketball Invitational, Fred Glass famously proclaimed, "This is Indiana. We don't play in the CBI." And he's right. They shouldn't. You have to pay to play in that. Nonetheless, the basketball program ended the season in tumult, with Noah Vonleh (NBA, Charlotte Hornets), Luke Fischer (Marquette), Jeremy Hollowell (Georgia State), Austin Etherington (Butler), Peter Jurkin (East Tennessee State), and Jonny Marlin (Indiana Wesleyan) all leaving the program during or after the season.
8. Troy Williams is a future NBA player, and that might be coming sooner rather than later. I sat next to Sixers GM Sam Hinkie at the Crossroads Classic, and watched him take note after note on one player -- Troy Williams. He wasn't the only NBA employee down on the south baseline of the Fieldhouse with an eye on #5 in red, either. Williams' performance in Indianapolis last week demonstrated his ability to play on the perimeter as almost a point-forward, and he might just be poised for a break-out Big Ten season and NCAA Tournament run this spring. If that happens and Williams plays an integral role, the 6-7 swingman might be turning his attention to the agent selection process and the NBA Combine in Chicago come April and May.
9. Sports usually suck and the best teams don't always win. Baseball's heartbreaking walk-off loss to Stanford in the regional round of the CWS. The once-top-ranked soccer program bowing out early in the NCAA tournament to Xavier, when the #Q49 seemed so very alive and real. Eastern Washington. Bowling Green. Nate Sudfeld's knee. Jalin Marshall bringing Kevin Wilson's team crashing back to earth in Ohio Stadium. Sports usually suck, and they will in 2015, too. Don't worry.
10. Zander Diamont is a readymade, pre-packaged superstar -- with one problem. Alright, fine. I might have been a little off in predicting greatness for Zander Diamont. He didn't burst onto the scene with some Manziellian performance against Michigan State on national television as I hoped. But the point remains. The dude's got every other factor you'd want in a quarterback -- except the ability to play quarterback. But the guy was in an unenviable situation -- having to step in to unexpectedly lead a team as a true freshman. Diamont grew into his role as the year went on, and he'll have likely a year to sit and learn when Sudfeld returns to the lineup in 2015. The next time we see Diamont under center for the Hoosiers, he'll be more ready than ever for the big stage. Oh, yeah, and this.
11. Mike Davis still loves Indiana, and just maybe, the feeling is mutual. Right before I picked up the phone to call Mike Davis back in November, I didn't know how he'd react to the line of questioning about coming back "home" to Indiana. I figured I'd get 5-10 minutes, some canned coach-speak answers, and I'd try to make a story out of that, somehow. But that's not Mike Davis. We spoke for nearly an hour, before I had to stop the conversation myself. I could hear the love and respect he has for Indiana in his voice, almost as if he were a spurned old lover that had been left for another. After I hung up the phone, I could only hope that enough time had passed to heal old wounds and that he'd be welcomed warmly. And, of course, Indiana fans answered the call -- warmly embracing the man with a well-earned standing ovation.
12. Fred Glass is a very, very smart man. There's hardly been an athletic director that's been on the forefront of change in college athletics more than Glass. While the NCAA was spending days making sure you didn't eat too much pasta at that team banquet (violation!), Glass was instituting the Indiana Athletics Student Bill of Rights -- which moved athletic scholarship from one-year, renewable awards to full, four-year rides. He instituted a lifetime degree guarantee, too -- which allows any non-transferring athlete to come back and finish their degree free of charge a later date, if necessary. Football attendance is up, olympic sports are seeing success, and Assembly Hall will get a much needed upgrade. He's chose to respect contracts, and not make rush, rash decisions. In the new-age, big-money era of college athletics, Indiana has as good of a CEO as any across the country. And the Rick Greenspan era should be a continual reminder for those that call for his head at times -- be careful what you wish for when asking for change at the top.
Much like it's been a year of change, evolution, and growth for Indiana athletics, it's been a year of the same for us here at The Crimson Quarry. We've seen a change of leadership and staff, and a bit of a change of what we strive to bring you, our reader. In the new media world, you can find information about IU athletics anywhere. But we're going to continue to bring you the best possible Hoosier content on the web, free of charge. We'll try to follow Vox's vision -- to not only bring you the news about IU athletics, but to explain it -- providing you more context than numbers, with both humor and nuance. We'll continue our Q&As, and our longform profiles, and try to make those better. We're upping our recruiting coverage. And of course, we'll still find plenty of find time for the satire and photoshops and often absurd non-humorous humor for which you've come to know us.
Merry Christmas, Hoosier fans. Shitter's full.