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HOOSIER FUNBAG: Harbaugh-Crean weirdness, spirit animals & Gedion Zelalem

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Our first semi-weekly mailbag addresses the Harbaugh-Crean family weirdness, Tom's coach of the year candidacy, a way-too-early football outlook, Gedion Zelalem & more.

Every week, Kyle Robbins is here to answer your most pressing questions about IU sports, weather, life, religion, the latest Migos mixtape, Golden Corral entrees, etc. It's a weekly thing now, and he'll do it every Wednesday, maybe.

Hey! Michigan hired a flat-out crazy person yesterday to coach their football team! Let's talk about that, Tom Crean's coach of the year candidacy, CROOTIN', way-too-early football projections, soccer, and spirit animals. Before we get started, above is a picture of Jim Harbaugh doing a Indiana basketball-related weird thing.

Yes, that was when Jim Harbaugh was a manager for a game for his brother-in-law. Jim Harbaugh does lots of weird things. Tom Crean does lots of weird things. This was one of them, and they are one in the same.

Hooray, for the weird-ass Harbaugh-Crean family. LET'S SPORTSTALK.

REAL, ACTUAL QUESTIONS

Hmmmmm. Like, this isn't a completely absurd thought. And half of Indiana's fanbase would spontaneously combust if this happened too -- WHICH IS FUN, RIGHT? Pending some unforeseen act of god, Wisconsin will likely win the conference. And the conference's best coach will likely be Bo Ryan. But the coach of the year award has been, traditionally, an overachieving team award. Will Bo still get the nod with such high expectations coming into the season and with seemingly limited competition to challenge them at the top of the conference? Maybe. But I'd list three names, based on what we've seen in the non-con, that could unseat him: Mark Turgeon, Pat Chambers, and yes, Tom Crean. What Turgeon & Chambers have done with Maryland & Penn State respectively in the early part of the season is admirable. If Chambers can keep that up and get Penn State to the tournament, I think he runs away with the award unquestioned. If they fall off, Crean and Turgeon might have an inside track if they can lead their respective programs to top-4 finishes in the B1G. I'll put the line at 12/13 wins for Crean to have a shot to take the B1G COY.

The easy, obvious answer has to be post play -- and that should come from Juwan Morgan. Pending something unforseen, the entire backcourt should return next season and will likely be one of the best in the nation in putting points on the board. Hanner Perea has been serviceable for the Hoosiers, but they clearly need more down low on both ends of the floor. Morgan should bring that. If you're looking another area that could use some reinforcing, it's likely perimeter defense. James Blackmon, Yogi Ferrell, & Rob Johnson have turned into FARTDOG (the Friendly Alliance of Terrible Defenders of Opposing Guards) at times this season, and that was fittingly evidenced in D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's 29-point performance in Madison Square Garden. There's no perimeter lock-you-up-dude on this roster al a Victor Oladipo or Will Sheehey, even -- and Tom Crean could certainly use one.

Ok, so, like, no, never. But THE BIG TEN EAST PEOPLE HOLY HELL. Every year, Indiana now has to compete against:

  • An insane dude at powerhouse program that took STANFORD to the BCS and went to a Super Bowl.
  • A dude who won two national championships, one of which with Chris Leak playing quarterback.
  • Man who thinks your wife is ugly that won 9 games twice at Vanderbilt.
  • Guy who won last year's Rose Bowl.
  • Old man that yells at cloud that also took UCONN to a BCS game.
  • and some disease called Rutgers. I presume it is similar to rickettsia.

Someone buy Kevin Wilson a big bottle of booze, like, now. But, like, let's get crazy a second here. What if Harbaugh at Michigan doesn't work? For god-sakes, they called him Christ today. Ignore the fact that his offensive staff has completely misused Colin Kaepernick and he's so damn incorrigible Trent Baalke is literally willing to risk his own long-term employment status in running him out of town. THERE'S NO WAY THIS COULD GO WRONG WITH SUCH A RATIONAL FANBASE AS THEY HAVE IN ANN ARBOR. Speaking of football, related:

I'll unpack these easiest-first. Yes, the passing offense will be back -- because Kevin Wilson and Nate Sudfeld. Kevin Wilson's going to throw the ball hell or highwater and I think a part of him probably died this season with the inability to throw it downfield. I'd expect Zander to redshirt the year with Sudfeld taking the reigns of the offense back over. The injury was to his non-throwing shoulder, which means there's no reason to expect that he won't make a full recovery. The addition of Jordan Howard would alleviate the pain brought by the departure of Tevin Coleman and only open up more passing lanes. But much of that depends on the development of guys J-Shun Harris & Dominique Booth in the offseason. As for the defense, it's slow but steady progress. I think Brian Knorr did a commendable job in his first year in Bloomington & Tegray Scales is a future NFL player. There's building blocks there -- and the late season performances demonstrated improvement.

Is that enough for six wins? It'll be close. They'll likely need to run the table in the non-conference (Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, at Wake Forest) and then pick up wins at home against Rutgers and in West Lafayette. Anything else seems like a stretch. Penn State in Happy Valley? Picking off Jim Harbaugh in his first trip to visit his brother-in-law? You can't count on that. The floor's probably 3-4 wins, with the ceiling at 6-7 for next year's squad.

ASSORTED POTPOURRI

Because Tom Crean is a semi-Harbaugh and all Harbaughs are, by nature, super-overly-intense humans that are weird as all hell. They also all drink Diet Coke. A TRUE MICHIGAN MAN WATCHES HIS CALORIC INTAKE FROM SOFT DRINKS.

The Harbaugh-Creans likely make their own toothpaste, because, as mentioned, they are weird as all hell. I presume Tom makes some odiforous, hygenic mix using anti-bacterial-soap, mint cloves, and an orange peel. Jim does not brush his teeth, as his favorite morning beverage of a Red Bull with a shot of household bleach and two parts battery acid allow his teeth to stay fresh without daily maintenance. THE BUUUUUURN YOU FEEL MEANS IT'S WORKING, TOM.

No, not Bobcat. Hyena? Tom's more of a frog. High-energy, lots of clapping? But what do I know, that's none of my--

crean kermit

Yeah, frog. He's a frog.

BONUS, UNRELATED QUESTION

/orders Ponderosa takeout

/lights bottle rocket out of hind quarters

Can't wait for Ghostface Killah to lead the nation in this chant outside Putin's house in 2018.