Just hours after Indiana’s NCAA Tournament hopes were dashed, we’re back on the what-will-Indiana-do coaching rumor mill. Right now, Tom Crean is still Indiana’s coach -- and there’s been no indication yet from Indiana he won’t be the coach next season, despite widespread speculation.
Former Indiana Scout.com site proprietor Justin Albers reported Friday night that UCLA head coach Steve Alford would have “significant interest” in returning to take the head job in Bloomington. (UPDATE: As of Saturday morning, these tweets have been deleted. The remnants remain below.)
If the Indiana job were to open, UCLA coach Steve Alford would have "significant interest" in coming back to IU, per multiple sources. #iubb— Justin Albers (@Justin_Albers) March 11, 2017
Multiple sources say Steve Alford has told them his No. 1 priority if he got the Indiana job would be to "take back the state in recruiting"— Justin Albers (@Justin_Albers) March 11, 2017
A couple things here. First, take these rumors for what they are — rumors and reports are nothing more. This is the start of the coaching silly season, and from someone who’s spent a little time working in collegiate coach representation, every agent’s looking for leverage. There’s lots of bullshit peddled, is what I’m telling you. This is merely a report saying Alford would have “significant interest” — much as I would have “significant interest” in being given one million dollars to write one blog post per day.
Second thing. This is a bad, stupid, bad idea. WE’VE BEEN OVER THIS. Alford himself was a Lonzo Ball away from being on the hot seat at UCLA. He’s already been run out of town at a Big Ten school once. In 12-some seasons in the Pac-12 and Big Ten, he’s managed exactly two Sweet 16 appearances and zero conference titles. His 2017 UCLA team has almost exactly the same efficiency metrics as 2016 Indiana, except with a worse defense. His 2016 UCLA team went 15-17. Per the resume test, Steve Alford is a poor man’s Tom Crean.
But worse than all this, Alford botched the handling of a pair of sexual assault cases involving star player Pierre Pierce at Iowa -- allowing him to return to the team after the first and publicly defending him, only for Pierce to be arrested and convicted for another assault during the 2004-2005 season. That’s almost exactly the type of behavior that’s had Art Briles cast off from Baylor University this past fall. And despite all his efforts, PR and revisionist history about his handling of the situation won’t and shouldn’t make that go away.
This should be a hard pass for Indiana. It’ll be concerning if it isn’t.