The last time Indiana went looking for a basketball coach, it took nine days to get from the firing to the hiring. In between, things got dumb—errrrrr ... I mean awesome. Really, it’s all about perspective.
There were unconfirmed reports of real estate tours, late-night flights into the Monroe County Airport and NBA coaches making surreptitious visits to local haunts. All of it was bullshit, of course, but it all made for good fun during the week and a half that IU took to decide on its new basketball pope.
May we be so lucky this time, because really, it was great fodder.
We’re not quite two days into the latest search and, already, the coaching carousel is spinning at full speed. Steve Alford reportedly said he won’t pursue the job — (Editor’s note: lmaooooo) — Nate Oats is unsurprisingly out of the picture, and many of the national folks are tripping over themselves to one-up each other with absurd statements about what they think Indiana basketball is and isn’t. Coaching searches absolutely rule.
Anyway, here’s the rundown from Day 1 of the post-Archie era:
Rick Pitino has thoughts
Appearing on Indianapolis radio station 1070 The Fan on Tuesday afternoon, Iona coach Rick Pitino was asked whether he had heard from anyone at IU. He hadn’t, of course — and he won’t — but he did share his thoughts on the task ahead of Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson.
“I think IU is one of the truly great jobs in all of basketball,” Pitino said. “I think they have a great fan base. They’ve fallen on hard times, obviously. But I’m ending my career at Iona. If I was Indiana right now, and I’m not gonna promote anybody, but I would get on a private plane, fly to Boston and not take no for an answer with Brad Stevens.”
There you have it: Brad Stevens is not coming to IU.
You hear that? Stevens is absolutely not coming! (wink, wink)
The Celtics’ coach also spent some time on the radio Tuesday, making an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Bahhhsten.
Here’s how that went:
Host: We’re seeing a lot of reports out there with your name. I’ve been reading the Indy Star today, getting the local feel.
Stevens: Oh yeah?
Host: The Indy Star wants you back home. The Zionsville Gazette.
Stevens: They want me back?
Host: They want you back home, and they want you as the head coach at Indiana. Are you aware of this desire of the people of Indiana?
Stevens: That’s nice of them. That really is. Listen, that’s home. I get it. I appreciate all the nice sentiments. It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s certainly very kind.
Host: Do you know Sage Steele of ESPN?
Host: I think she’s the one who started this, too, like, ‘I’m advocating for my good friend Brad Stevens. Get the boxes ready and get him back home.’
Stevens: It’s a passionate fan base.
Host: So you’re not quitting your Celtics job to go coach Indiana, is what you’re telling us?
Stevens: I am not.
There you have it: Brad Stevens is coming to IU.
Bilas blames you
There’s a reason Indiana basketball hasn’t won consistently over the past couple of decades. No, it’s not because the Archie Miller era was a complete failure in approach and execution. It’s because Phil in Greencastle opened a Peegs account to ask what, exactly, Tom Ostrom does. No, it’s not because Tom Crean made recruiting mistakes and relied on a system with fatal flaws. It’s because Chris in Fishers gets on Twitter a couple nights each week and tweets “Please make a shot!!! #iubb”.
That, at least, is Jay Bilas’ diagnosis.
During an appearance on ESPN 680 in Louisville on Tuesday, the renowned college basketball analyst offered his opinion on the Indiana job. It was something:
“I don’t mean this to sound as disrespectful as it’s going to,” Bilas said, aptly prefacing his wrongheaded and disrespectful remarks. “But Indiana fans are still stuck pining for Bob Knight and the Bob Knight way of doing things. If that’s what you want, then hire a former player. Quit with this back-to-the-future stuff and hire a former player that has candy-striped blood flowing through his veins. Then get a forward-looking plan, rather than pining to go back to the way things used to be.
“They’ve cannibalized their own program with the last three coaches they’ve had, and I think that’s been a profound mistake. I don’t care for the way that’s happened, but that’s what fan bases do. I just think the Indiana fan base has not helped the program with the complaining and stuff. I’m not saying fans shouldn’t complain. I get it. They can do whatever they want. But I don’t think the results are particularly good, and I think that’s a big part of it. And I don’t think the job, frankly, is as attractive now as it was 12, 13 years ago. So if you think you can get Brad Stevens, great. I doubt that, but we’ll see what happens. You never know. But there needs to be an everybody-on-board feeling, no matter who’s hired. But I would go with a former Indiana player that has a vision for the program that goes beyond just, ‘Let’s go back to the way things used to be.’”
If asking the men’s basketball program to stop losing to Purdue and Rutgers, and to stop toddling in the six-to-10 range in the Big Ten standings is cannabalizing, then *shrug*. Sure. If asking the men’s basketball program to regularly play in the NCAA Tournament and, just generally, to score a basket once every couple of minutes is cannabalizing, then *shrug*. Yeah, man. I guess.
At this point, the reheated takes from 2017 are a little hard to stomach. Or square. And it’s only Day 1 on the carousel.
Isn’t this fun?!