UGA hired a search firm. Why again?
If Tom Crean turns down Georgia, we’re entering Tennessee Football territory, but that association would actually be generous considering that Tennessee Football has actual tradition and a history of winning. Georgia went from one ousted, gap year former Big Ten Coach to another one. If privacy, due diligence and an actual selection process were what a search firm was to provide, then we have had none. There was no point of hiring a search firm and there was no purpose behind keeping Mark Fox for a full season when the clear intention was to move on and try to hire someone who was not coaching.
Is there a vision for Georgia Basketball?
What’s the objective? Is it winning? No coach is guaranteed to win when hired with the exception of Urban Meyer or Roy Williams. Even last offseason’s sure thing, Archie Miller, who was the darling of UGA Message Boards has been a dud thus far at Indiana.
But first, can they or better yet, you, imagine what a winning program with a Basketball Culture looks like in Athens? Just imagine what it would look like… what it would sound like… what it would taste like… what would it smell like? Beyond what’s in Stegeman Coliseum. Out on the quads, in Downtown Athens , in Five Points, on local radio stations, local alumni chapters across the country, road games and exotic tournament atmospheres. Would you plunk down thousands to see the Dawgs play in the Cayman Islands at a High School Gym that makes Norcross High School’s gym look like The Pavilion at Ole Miss if there was such a culture?
Installing a proven coach who was not immediately picked up as a coach is certainly cause for concern. However, it does seem that Greg McGarity is playing the role of the lazy parent who wants to make the problem go away by buying their way out of the problem. It’s not about building traditions and creating a power program, it is about hiring someone to quiet naysayers and by virtue of the hire say that the problem is solved. That’s what McGarity is trying to do and through the media will effectively spin it so that dissent is wrong.
You don’t want to win? I gave you a winner. We solved it. Those who disagree or find fault are the problem.
The objective is to get this problem put away by Spring Football Practice. It’s not about finding the best candidate and/or the candidate who will create a culture, but rather installing a coach to pacify critics. Those who support Georgia Basketball and do not like what has been done to it are babies, here’s a pacifier. Those who criticize the UGAA’s handling of Men’s Basketball are bratty children, here’s an X-Box, now go away.
That’s what it is.
Tom Crean is the Pacifier
Kirby Smart is not Greg McGarity’s legacy. McGarity will get to watch Smart dominate his choice Dan Mullen every season in Jacksonville and have to deal with being wrong and overruled. This hire could be his legacy whether anyone wants to admit it or not. This is it, this is what McGarity may ultimately be judged upon. McGarity let Mark Fox stick around well past his time to go and now
Georgia is not “notoriously cheap” about Men’s Basketball, it’s not about money. It’s about laziness, prioritization and values. Men’s Basketball is perceived as an anchor much like other sports at Georgia. It’s a generational and regional issue.
Hiring Tom Crean is not necessarily a step in the right direction. It’s a misguided effort to placate the base. A shiny object in the form of a Head Coach. Tom Crean is the metaphorical $4 Million apology ring that Kobe Bryant gave to his wife Vanessa. The underlying issues still exist and if Crean does not immediately succeed, the money is going to be brought up.
If the objective is to win over the non-alumni with a guy they saw on TV being hyped by Dick Vitale, then welcome to your reckoning. That’s not your audience, Men’s Basketball can enjoy a large audience, but getting Football fans on-board is the toughest sell.
Tom Crean: The Enigma with Undeniable Success
Tom Crean had one run to the Final Four with Dwyane Wade at Marquette, but he followed it up with a pair of NIT seasons. The move from Conference USA to the Big East helped a great deal because the Big East enjoyed a better perception when it came to creating a tournament resume. His three seasons in the Big East could end up looking awfully similar to Kevin Willard.
Crean’s first three seasons were plagued by NCAA limitations and they should not count in terms of his track record, it’s much like considering Mark Fox’s first four seasons in Athens as he was plagued by recruiting restrictions by Former UGA President Michael Adams through Athletic Director Greg McGarity that were grounded in bigotry.
Indiana holds a cachet like few other programs in College Basketball. Indiana Basketball is a lot like Georgia Football (both have 5 National Championships and haven’t won a National Championship since the 1980s). Indiana expects to win National Championships and is Georgia’s polar opposite. Indiana Football is the underachieving, neglected and cursed program much like Georgia Basketball. Tom Crean was the most scrutinized man in the State of Indiana, but his six seasons after the first three are what define him as a coaching candidate. Crean is an enigma who could not build upon accolades. He’d follow a Big Ten Championship season with no appearance at all – twice. In fact, he won three conference titles and followed them with NIT appearances.
Can Crean win? Yes, but will he consistently do it? Probably not. Will the inconsistency be maddening? Absolutely. Is Crean an upgrade over the past two coaches? Of course, but then again were we really looking to win then? Is Crean the best candidate for Georgia? No. Is he better than Earl Grant? No question, then again almost any potential candidate is better than Earl Grant.
How stop the vaunted Tom Crean Offense in one step: 2-3 Zone.
Crean Doesn’t Know What He’s Stepping Into
In its present form, Georgia Basketball can only get attention if the program wins. It’s not the same way as Football, this can change, but Tom Crean rubs people the wrong way (not like a Hollywood producer or executive) and he’s never had to instill a Basketball culture at a school that is as resistant as Georgia.
Tom Crean’s history of inconsistency will create bandwagons.
Crean never had to sell anyone on the sport of Basketball before. He’s hoping to buy whatever patience he can get off his name alone. He’s used to being “The Man” and having his foibles be tolerated because of his grand stature at Marquette and Indiana. He’s going to be humbled if he thinks that he can pull up his big boy pants and be bigger than Kirby Smart just by gracing us with his presence. He does not realize that Basketball is a counter-culture sport and he has to gain the faith of the student body like he did at Indiana, but this is a different group of students at the University of Atlanta in Athens than the students in Bloomington. He’s starting from scratch here.
Once a culture is created, the program is more-or-less set for decades. It’s better than a program that is experiencing the 2nd Circle of Hell.
Crean has to understand the woes and obstacles that this program faces coming into taking this job, this is a tricky job. The problem is not a few AAU coaches in Atlanta and it is not Wheeler High School. If he can address the underlying issues internally, create the rebellious counter-culture (it’s only rebellious to those who the support the status quo) and have consistent success, he’ll flip things upside down. Otherwise, we remain flailing with accidental brushes of success along the way. “Getting Georgia” means you want to change Georgia for the better, not uphold the perceptions like the way Mark Fox did.
Crean Creates Headaches
Consider this: Why didn’t power programs call Crean after he was released by Indiana? Rick Barnes was immediately picked up by Tennessee after his release from Texas.
- North Carolina State
- Ohio State
- New Mexico
- Oklahoma State
Why not Crean there? Why Crean now? Why Crean here?
- In 2014, 6 out of 13 members of the Indiana roster had drug and alcohol related violations.
- In 2014, Crean lost his team much the way Mark Fox did this past season.
- Like how Mark Fox would tear into an individual player in front of everyone? Crean does it too.
- Crean can be bizarrely callous.
- Crean can be just plain bizarre.
- Being a sore loser.
- Mass transfers.
- Oversigning and being proud of it.
- Treating recruits like commodities rather than people.
Is this a predictable and safe Head Coach for a risk averse Administration?
Tom Crean would be a boon for Georgia Basketball Blog
Why? After what is perceived to be opposition to the idea of Crean being the Head Coach? He’s a walking, talking meme-inspiring punchline. It will be hard to write articles with any sort of seriousness because there is too much to satirize. It changes the tone altogether from one of indignation and pounding a fist on a table to one of “Hey, look at Tom Crean be weird today!”.
Crean is not the same old song. He’s someone who can make us laugh and forget about life for a while. He’s not the best coach for the Georgia job, but he’s the bizarre big name who can captivate us all. Instead of lighting up Sanford Stadium, the Bulldog Nation can just hold up Fatheads of Tom Crean meme faces. That’s just a suggestion, it’s a taste of the potential lighter version of Georgia Basketball Blog. After all…
Nobody likes perceived pessimism that carries over from the Mark Fox era. It’s just time for a different way of doing things and with Crean, that would take place. However, there’s no room for unwarranted optimism either… it’s just different.
It will be fun to see hypocritical sycophants who went from using language about “doing things the right way” to talking about how wonderful it is to treat recruits like the way Mark Fox treated Jamir Moultrie. Zero credibility and flexible definitions of morality to come. Sound familiar?
Update: It’s Crean, let the fun begin!