Get ready for a month-long episode of the blame game, Bloomington style.
With six regular season games left in Indiana's basketball season, it's all but decided that Mike Davis won't be back on the Hoosier sidelines next season. Any lingering doubt on the matter was seemingly erased Monday morning on the Big Ten Teleconference when the sixth-year Hoosier coach offered the coaching equivalent of a concession speech.
Apparently still battling flu-like symptoms, Davis sounded like a man who was sick of dealing with the expectations, his critics, and occasionally the drama that goes along with coaching at Indiana. He laughed off any interest in where next year's Big Ten postseason tournament will be, presumably because he's sure he won't there to coach in it.
During his Monday teleconference Davis also continued to express his frustrations with Hoosier fans, many of whom he believes have never accepted him as the program's head coach.
"It's really, really taken effect on our players, not just this year, but every year I've been here because it doesn't matter what I do, if we play for it all or not, it's still the same," Davis said. "I'm very disappointed in it, but not just for me, but for the players because they deserve more."
Davis went on to say that the negativity has had an impact on the likes of Marco Killingsworth and Robert Vaden, the Hoosiers' top two scorers this season. Vaden has been in a terrible shooting slump as of late, going just 15-of-49 (31 percent) in Indiana's four games this month.
"When it affects Marco Killingsworth, when it affects Robert Vaden, when it starts to affect your better players – and that's what it's done – it doesn't make sense," Davis said.
Let the finger pointing begin.
A significant portion of the Indiana fan base has long been pointing at Davis as the reason for Indiana's struggles in recent years, which includes back-to-back seasons without an NCAA Tournament invitation. As the head coach that seems like a reasonable suggestion, since he is ultimately responsible for putting the players on the floor and the gameplan in place.
But Davis has started returning fire, suggesting in recent days that the fans' disapproval of him has in turn been weighing on his players not only this year, but in each of the six years he's been in charge.
"I should be trying to coach basketball and these guys should really enjoy their college career, because this is the time that they are going to remember," Davis said. "I don't know that I've had a team that's had positive memories out of this whole deal since I've been here."
He pointed to the fact that even when the Hoosiers were one game out of first and ranked in the top 20 earlier this season, he and his team couldn't catch a break from the fans or the media.
"I know a lot of teams that would be happy to be ranked and happy to be one game out," Davis said.
While being ranked might be reason to celebrate at say, Bucknell, simply being in the top 20 and on the first page of the Big Ten leader board isn't enough at Indiana, and that's what has Hoosier fans in an uproar and Davis now shouting back. With this sort of rhetoric being tossed around, this has all the makings a knock down, drag out Assembly Hall fight that could get ugly in the final four or five weeks of the season.
There is still a pair of home games to be played, including a Feb. 26 nationally-televised match-up against Michigan State. If boos cascade down on Davis in potentially his final home game at IU, the nation will be witness to it. That will also be Senior Day, an afternoon during which Davis will introduce Marshall Strickland, Sean Kline, Marco Killingsworth and Lewis Monroe – presumably four more players who don't have any positive memories from their times in B-town based on Monday's comments.
On the flip side, Davis has a handful of postgame press conferences and his weekly Big Ten Teleconference to continue to sound off about all of the reasons he believes he hasn't been accepted by Indiana fans.
If this does degenerate into a war of words and boos, the ultimate loser is going to be everyone involved.
There continue to be rumors of protests at games and of vile voice messages left for IU's players. That's inexcusable behavior, the sort of stuff that can do a whole lot more damage to the IU program than some seem to think Davis has done. Davis, meanwhile, isn't exactly enhancing his coaching resume by going on the offensive with Hoosier fans, no matter how underappreciated and slighted he feels.
Everyone involved needs to take a step back, let the season play out, and move on once the season comes to close.
If they don't, each side runs the risk of damaging their own cause, and they will have no one to blame but themselves.
DECKER: War Of The Words
Peegs.com Top Stories
Inside the Locker Room: Hoosier HysteriaThe Hoosier Hysteria version of the Inside the Locker Room is often one of the most talked about of the year. Don't miss the latest scoop.
Hoosiers looking to get offense back on trackThe Hoosiers have been hard at work trying to fix the little mistakes that have plagued the offense the last few weeks.
Hoosier Newsstand, Oct. 21Get the latest articles on Indiana basketball, football and other sports in today's edition of the Hoosier Newsstand.
A look at the WildcatsZach Pereles from Inside NU talks to Peegs.com about the Northwestern Wildcats and tomorrow's match-up with the Hoosiers.