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Tale of the tape: Tom Crean vs... Tom Crean

How does IU’s basketball coach match up against the Irish Antarctic explorer of the same name?

It recently came to my attention that the Tom Crean who coaches Indiana's basketball team isn't just the only famous Tom Crean out there. In fact, there is another legendary Tom Crean, one whose job status wasn't called for every 10 seconds on Twitter dot com. This other Crean was an early 20th century Irish explorer who went on several trips to explore the continent of Antarctica.

The two mean have both accomplished a great deal during their storied careers. But which one will be crowned the ONE TRUE CHAMPION of all Tom Creans? We compared the two to find out.


Crean the Explorer: Grew up in Annascaul, a small farming village in County Kerry on the southwest edge of Ireland. One of ten children. Likely lied about his age in order to enter the British Royal Navy.

Crean the Coach: Grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, home to his alma mater, Central Michigan University. Helped coach the local high school team while at CMU.

Advantage: Explorer. The Irish Crean faked his age to join the Navy. Meanwhile... (puts on angry internet commenter voice)... THE ONLY PEOPLE LYING ABOUT THEIR AGE UNDER CREAN'S WATCH ARE HIS PLAYERS WITH THEIR FAKE IDS AM I RIGHT?


Explorer: Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who died while trying to reach the South Pole in 1912.

Coach: Tom Izzo, who managed to get to a Final Four this past season despite losing his three best players from the prvious year, and despite his team being unable to close out tight games.

Advantage: Coach. Izzo could be immortal for all we know.


Explorer: The Irish Giant (source: Wikipedia)

Coach: Clappy the Clown (source: Purdue fans on Twitter)

Advantage: Explorer. I am now imagining Explorer Crean clapping frantically as his boat barely avoids an iceberg en route to the South Pole, without calling a timeout in order to change the ship's course.


Explorer: Laid low after returning from Antarctica because he had served in the British Royal Navy, and Ireland had just gained its independence from Britain around the time he returned.


Advantage: Coach. If Coach Crean had been the head of the British Royal Navy and word got out he was recruiting young Crean from Ireland to join instead of the top prep sailor from England, the Peegs commenters at the time would have never let him hear the end of it.


Explorer: Persevered through the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition (which eventually killed Captain Scott) for three years.

Coach: Persevered through 20-loss seasons in Bloomington for three years.

Advantage: Push. One of them had to had to spend long winters in a barren land with no end in sight. The other was exploring Antarctica.


Explorer: Won the Albert Medal for Lifesaving by walking 35 miles across the Ross Ice Shelf to rescue a crewmember.

Coach: Made the Final Four with Marquette (some say only because of Dwyane Wade). Turned IU's basketball program around after heavy sanctions (some say only because of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo).

Advantage: Explorer. The Albert Medal for Lifesaving beats out a Final Four trip and a Sweet 16 ring. But just barely.


Explorer: Smoking a pipe in most photos.

Coach: Drinking Diet Coke during most games.

Advantage: Coach. I don't think Coach Crean could get away with smoking a pipe during a game in Assembly Hall. Then again, Zander did have the locker room cigar...


Explorer: Has a beer named after him in Ireland, and a statue of him has been built in his hometown of Annascaul.

Coach: Has an oversigning philosophy named after him.

Advantage: Explorer. Did these Antarctic missions ever do their own version of "Creaning?" Like, would they transfer one guy to a ship that was exploring the North Pole because they had the top recruited 18 year-old explorer coming on board to the South Pole?


Explorer Tom Crean barely edges out Coach Tom Crean by the count of 4-3-1. Sorry Coach, but if you want to take the top spot of famous Tom Creans, you've still got your work cut out for you.