Unless you’ve been living miles underneath the earth’s crust in a lair completely excommunicated from modern society, you know that Steve Alford’s been strongly linked to the Indiana opening since Tom Crean was fired by Fred Glass yesterday.
There’s plenty of reasons to dismiss Alford as a candidate for the opening out of hand. He’s coming off a losing season at UCLA in 2016, and his resume in Westwood at best looks similar to Crean’s in Bloomington. He just had to give back a year of his contract to keep him in the school’s good graces, and fans there want to fire him into deep space. He’s been a Big Ten coach before, too! Alford was, well, very okay at it, before being run out of town as one of the most loathed figures in recent conference history. Over the past 15-some years, Alford has proven himself to be a replacement-level coach at Power 5 schools. His defining career achievement to date is happening to be the coach of the school the Brothers Ball were predestined for. On top of all that, there’s legitimate reason to wonder if Alford should even be in college coaching after his ugly handling of Pierre Pierce’s sexual assault situation in 2002.
Steve Alford is, undoubtedly, a very bad candidate for the Indiana opening.
Undeterred, the Steve Alford to Indiana movement seems to be in full danged throat! Fred Glass’ comments about alums stoked the fire, and now nearly every college basketball writer, reporter, or outlet to seems to be some smoke to the But, seriously, look at all these damn cryptic reports.
Here’s Seth Greenberg to Jim Rome earlier this afternoon:
Gregg Doyel today:
Lots of wind blowing about the #iubb job. And all of it blows in the same direction: Steve Alford.— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) March 17, 2017
The Alford idea was floated by Justin Albers -- who’s since deleted the tweets -- this weekend. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News — all have floated this idea that Indiana fans would love the Alford hire. Here’s SN in a piece on coaching candidates:
Obvious ties here. The New Castle, Ind., native led the Hoosiers to their last national championship in 1987 as a player, and he's building a winner at UCLA. In fact, Alford likely will address this question throughout the NCAA tournament. Alford's previous stint at Iowa ended with a resignation in 2006-07, but that's a distant memory. Reeling Alford from UCLA would be a power move that shows the Hoosiers mean business. Chances are the fans would love it, too.
Message boards, Indiana rumor circles, your friend at the barber shop who knows one guy at work who talked to Quinn Buckner once: It’s running rampant that Alford to Indiana is a real thing — and that it would be a smash hit. It’s becoming so omnipresent that it’s worth asking the question: where’s this all coming from?
Pssssssst. It’s probably coming from Steve Alford and his people.
Leaks are not unintentional. From first-hand knowledge of spending a non-insignificant period of time in the space, this is how the agent world works. Alford needs to strike while the iron’s lukewarm to eject from Westwood, and Indiana would be the ideal landing spot. By putting his high-interest in the Indiana opening out there, it can work to drum up public support in Bloomington or it can be leveraged into an extension if March goes well for UCLA. The back-channel chatter would seem to confirm this is what’s going on right now, and probably catalyzing at least some of what you’re reading.
Of course, that all doesn’t mean Alford is not a serious candidate in Bloomington. Steve is a good-ol-boy, and there’s assuredly a faction of People That Matter that would like to see the best remaining tie available to the Knight era return to Indiana, logic be damned. But it’s highly highly unlikely that Source Zero for any of these rumors would be Fred Glass, or anyone truly involved with the search.
So, keep that in mind as you do your reading and rumoring over the next few weeks.