COACHING SEARCH: Is Crean A Good Fit For IU?

If it's a high-energy, relentless recruiting coach that Indiana University Athletic Director Rick Greenspan wants to replace Mike Davis as the program's head basketball coach, then Marquette Head Coach Tom Crean might be the answer he's looking for.

If it's a high-energy, relentless recruiting coach that Indiana University Athletic Director Rick Greenspan wants to replace Mike Davis as the program's head basketball coach, then Marquette Head Coach Tom Crean might be the answer he's looking for.

A native of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., and a graduate of Central Michigan University, Crean is a Tom Izzo protégé. Before taking over the Marquette program, Crean spent four seasons in East Lansing on Izzo's staff, including the final two years as the program's Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator. Michigan State went 88-41 during Crean's stay, including a trip to the 1999 Final Four.

After that 1999 season Crean took over at Marquette, and he's now in his seventh year at the Conference USA-turned Big East program. He's compiled a 138-73 record at the Milwaukee, Wis., school, including five trips to the postseason, including two NCAA tourney invitations. Marquette's most memorable trip to the NCAA Tournament came during the 2002-03 season, when the Dwyane Wade-led Golden Eagles went 27-6 and advanced to the Final Four. This year's team – which features Richmond, Ind., point guard Dominic James – is off to a 17-8 start in its first season in the Big East and is expected to earn an NCAA tourney invitation as well.

This is not the first time Crean's name has come up with a high-profile job. After Marquette's 2003 Final Four run, the then-37-year-old Crean was viewed as the hot young college coach. He appeared to be Kansas' second choice to replace Roy Williams behind Bill Self. Then, when the Illinois job opened up, he was considered to be the leading candidate to replace Self. But Crean quickly inked a contract extension at Marquette – his second in as many years – which prompted the Illini to pursue Bruce Weber. There were also rumors that UCLA had some interest before taking Ben Howland, and Crean might have been a player for the North Carolina job had Williams not taken it.

While Crean has not said anything publicly about the IU job, it's one that he'd likely jump at. He's a Midwest guy and he's obviously been waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. He's also probably been a bit humbled to a degree by Marquette's back-to-back 19-12 records in the past two seasons, performances that took him out of the national spotlight that he had in 2003. While Marquette is now in an elite conference since joining the Big East, winning at Marquette probably just became a whole lot more difficult in the long run. Crean is likely very aware of that fact.

Crean also has a voice on his own sidelines that can speak to the virtues of the IU program. One of his assistant coaches at Marquette, Dan Panaggio, was an assistant to Mike Davis during his interim season in 2000-01.

What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: He's considered a tremendous recruiter, and he'd fit in very well with Greenspan's desire to have coaches that are willing to go out and promote the program. At Michigan State he was instrumental in bringing in both Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson, a pair of players that helped Michigan State to the Final Four in 1999 and the national title in 2000. At Marquette, he's developed very strong ties in Chicago and he's been able to go toe-to-toe with Wisconsin's Bo Ryan for the best players in Wisconsin. He also has connections in Indiana, evidenced by Dominic James' decision to go Marquette and the fact Michigan State recruited Indiana hard when he was in East Lansing as well. "Dogged" and "relentless" are adjectives often used to describe Crean as a recruiter, and he'd likely be able to re-establish IU's dominance in-state. In addition, he's a coach who won't shy away from getting out in public and speaking to just about any group that Greenspan asks him to. That would likely be a big hit among the IU faithful.

What Makes Him a Long Shot: He does make $1 million annually at Marquette, so Indiana would have to put together a package that would at least match that to get him. He also figures to be a candidate at some other schools, i.e. Missouri, so the longer Indiana waits, the more likely that he might consider another job offer. He's also viewed by some as someone who can be challenging to work either for or with at times, although he may have mellowed with each passing year at Marquette.'s Take: Assuming Greenspan is willing to look outside the so-called "IU family," Crean makes a lot of sense. His recruiting prowess and outgoing nature lead several who know him well to suggest that the IU program could explode with him at the helm. He's enjoyed success on a national level thanks to the Final Four trip, and he appears to have the program on very solid footing. Also, don't underestimate Crean's willingness to work the public speaking engagement tour. That's been very important to Greenspan with his hires of Terry Hoeppner and Sharon Versyp, and Crean fits that mold. While Greenspan is likely just now putting together a list of potential candidates, Crean has to near the top of his list.

Year Position Overall Record Conference Record Accomplishments
2004-05 Marquette, Head Coach 19-12 7-9 NIT First Round
2003-04 Marquette, Head Coach 19-12 8-8 NIT Quarterfinals
2002-03 Marquette, Head Coach 27-6 14-2 C-USA Regular Season Champion
NCAA Tournament
Final Four
2001-02 Marquette, Head Coach 26-7 13-3 2nd place, C-USA American Division
NCAA Tournament
2000-01 Marquette, Head Coach 15-14 9-7 3rd place, C-USA American Division
1999-2000 Marquette, Head Coach 15-14 8-8 4th place, C-USA American Division
1998-99 Michigan State, Associate Head Coach 33-5 - Big Ten Regular Season Champion
Big Ten Conference Champion
NCAA Tournament
Final Four
1997-98 Michigan State, Associate Head Coach 22-8 - Big Ten Regular Season Champion
NCAA Tournament
Sweet 16
1996-97 Michigan State, Assistant Coach 17-12 - NIT
1995-96 Michigan State, Assistant Coach 16-16 - NIT
1994-95 Pittsburgh, Assistant Coach 10-18 - -
1993-94 Western Kentucky, Assistant Coach 20-11 - NCAA Tournament
1992-93 Western Kentucky, Assistant Coach 26-6 - Sun Belt Tournament Champion
NCAA Tournament
Sweet 16
1991-92 Western Kentucky, Assistant Coach 21-1 - NIT
1990-91 Western Kentucky, Assistant Coach 14-14 - -
1989-90 Michigan State, Graduate Assistant 28-6 - Big Ten Champion
NCAA Tournament

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