As Indiana’s 2016-17 basketball season continues to spiral all to hell, speculation’s undoubtedly ramping up about Tom Crean’s future in Bloomington.
I wrote last week that it wouldn’t shock me to see Crean seek an exit from Bloomington, just out of self-preservation. According to Yahoo’s Pat Forde, that won’t be the Indiana head man’s first option.
After Mark Gottfried’s odd mid-season firing at NC State, some speculated that Raleigh could be a soft landing spot for Crean — and the type of mid-level, decent Power 5 job where he could succeed. Forde calls that a non-starter according to “industry sources” in his column this week, before elaborating more on the reasons.
But widespread speculation about Crean looking to jump before being pushed runs into this familial reality: his son, Riley, is enrolling at Indiana next year as a member of the baseball team. Leaving would seem to be closer to his last option than his first option. After winning the Big Ten last year, Indiana let Crean’s contract length dip to less than four years (it expires in 2020), which gets tricky in recruiting. Now the administration may have to make a decision: extend him after a disappointing season, or don’t offer an extension and basically put the writing on the wall.
That last bit creates the curious situation here for Tom & Indiana. He’ll either need an extension this offseason (or at the absolute latest after next season) or Indiana and Crean will enter some sort of negative symbiotic spiral. Three calamitous seasons and two conference championships probably don’t dictate an extension now. Being less than 12 months removed from a Big Ten title probably doesn’t dictate a firing.
Strap in, we’re probably in for a weird few weeks in Bloomington.