By now all of you have likely read up on the recent issue involving Indiana basketball players Emmett Holt and Devin Davis. In case you've been living under a rock, after a Halloween night involving alcohol Holt inadvertently ran over Davis after Davis darted back in front of Holt's vehicle, leaving the sophomore in serious condition. To make things even worse news hit shortly after about Hoosiers players Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson being suspended for multiple failed drug tests. This of course after several players, including star point guard Yogi Ferrell, all have had off the court issues in 2014.
So what do we have? We have off the court issues mounting and making the situation in Indiana seem downright toxic. We have guys like Dan Dakich more or less saying the state of Indiana basketball is downright disgusting. "Indiana basketball stands for nothing" mentions Dakich. Hell, we even have former student managers (with apparent grudges) adding fuel to the fire, mentioning a disconnect between Tom Crean and the players on the roster. There's apparently a lack of leadership (which seemed apparent at times during games last season), the young guys apparently do whatever they want and things are getting out of control according to a medley of sources, some on record and some not, but the reality is...
Indiana has a problem. And it's not what's going on off the court.
It's unfortunate and probably not the way things should be, but if the Hoosiers had made it to the NCAA Tournament last year the reality is the situation would be entirely different. Even more so had Crean not saw his best team get bounced in the Sweet 16 the year before. Success has a way of changing things and people will go out of their way to make excuses or accept the controversy of a coach, team or program if they win. It's why a star athlete gets arrested and the team rallies behind their guy in attempt to remedy the issue. Then when a decidedly less severe incident occurs for a bench warmer the team immediately parts ways.
So while all of these off the court issues have allowed the anti-Crean faction to gain considerable leverage, the reality is the main problem is Indiana's lackluster season last year and the fact that most people don't think Indiana will bounce back this season. If Indiana was winning, or if Indiana wins this season, all will likely be forgiven. Tom Crean leading this team to the NCAA Tournament means things will have to get considerably worse if he's going to get axed, that's the reality of things. That being said, if he can't win this season then all of the off the court issues will hold considerable weight on any possible decision to move on from Crean or not.
"Tom is absolutely not in trouble...Tom is part of the solution. He's not part of the problem," mentioned Indiana athletic director Fred Glass. And he's more or less right. Even with all of the hearsay, some of which is likely true and some of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt, winning cures all blues. Fans will usually accept a program's bumps and bruises as long as the team is winning.
That being said, Crean and company shouldn't be let off the hook even if they can start to win games again. There needs to be accountability and something needs to be done to correct what is going on in Bloomington. Boys will boys and plenty of other metaphors fit the situation, but the Indiana program has had far too many alcohol related issues to the point where Crean needs to lay the law down and get things moving in the right direction. Will he be able to do so? I think so, I think that the administration realizes that the program can't take another black eye so soon after the return of the Hoosiers program from the disastrous end to Kelvin Sampson's tenure here. I also think that these "four" game suspensions (more or less two game suspensions as the first two games are exhibitions) are slaps on the wrist that do little to solve the problem at hand.
It's almost interesting, though. If Crean can right the ship and get his team united, leading his players and keeping them out of trouble...it won't save his job if Indiana can't start to win games. However, if the Hoosier program gets into even more alcohol related issues and drug violations, yet returns to form in 2015, Crean will likely remain as coach here. It's kind of that odd standard of collegiate sports, with winning trumping all while everyone in charge claims that collegiate sports are about more than just winning.
So while all of the issues off the court have became a major distraction in Bloomington and have amped up the public discussion of Tom Crean and the "hot seat" some believe he is on, all of these problems would mean very little if Indiana was playing better basketball on the court. Everyone likes to talk like this is it for Crean, but the only thing he needs to do to save his job is win basketball games.
So while everyone talks about the problems with Indiana basketball, unless they're mentioning a missed NCAA Tournament and the possibility of another this year, they're most likely ignoring the main issue at hand.