For today's topic we're asking the question of which Big Ten coach you hate the most and why. So vote in the poll below and drop a line because I'm sure this is a topic a number of you are extremely opinionated on (I know a lot of our readers took issue with Bo Ryan in the past, though I think the 'haters' have gone elsewhere).
As for myself, I know it's cliche to hate your rivals head coach but if I had to give an answer it'd definitely be Tom Crean. The interesting aspect of my disliking of Crean is that it's more or less became a mix of hating and liking him at the same time.
When it comes to Crean, there's plenty to hate on. Like seriously, they literally cut down the nets after losing:
"That’s right, after a loss that could cost them the outright Big Ten title, the Hoosiers donned championship hats, raised a Big Ten trophy and brought the ladders out to cut down the nets".
Somehow in a game that they could have clinched an outright Big Ten title they not only lost, but they celebrated it. Not only do you have things like that, but you also have signs that Crean can be relatively petty and a poor sport in general. Plus you have things like this:
Over the next few days and weeks we will tweet out our thoughts on the season and our off season. No need to reply. I don't read it.— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) March 17, 2014
And let us not forget our favorite thing to hate on Crean about...the fact that he claps after every single play. Literally. I did a search for Crean in our photo database and about half of them were the head coach clapping his hands. This of course leads me to my biggest problem with Crean and that is...do I really even hate him?
Part of the reason why he originally jumped to the top of the list is it's really hard to find Big Ten coaches that are easy to dislike. I think Thad Matta could have fit that role but my image of him changed favorably after reading Mark Titus's book a year or so ago. And while I know there's some distaste towards Bo Ryan, I've never hated him. Past that you have maybe the courtside tantrums from Fran McCaffery and the continued success of Tom Izzo, but no reasons to really hate anyone in the conference.
The issue with Crean is his shortcomings have more or less became punchlines for the university. Things like cutting down the nets after losing a game, going off on former assistants, showing questional sportmanship and delaying pressers with the media...this all leads to backlash against both Crean and Indiana and makes both look bad. Mix that with a coach that has struggled with in game changes, zone defense, roster turnover and has underachieved considerably and you have a program fading back from where it should be as it slips back down the Big Ten totem pole.
So the idea of hating Crean is enticing but it feels like his tenure is at a crossroads and he's starting to falter. And if there's one thing that I've learned while watching Crean win at Indiana, it's that watching him lose at Indiana should provide plenty of entertainment. So while I probably should hate Crean more than I actually do, the borderline mockery he's made of himself and the school is almost worth putting up with. And for that I actually like him.
Ps. I don't think this post would be complete without linking to this inadvertent gem. While harmless, it's still worth a laugh regardless if you like Crean or not.