Tom Crean was in no mood to celebrate on Sunday in the moments immediately following Indiana’s thrilling win over Michigan to capture the Big Ten regular season title outright.
Crean had a bone to pick with a former IU assistant instead.
After zipping through the customary postgame handshake line, the spirited Hoosiers hoops boss tracked down Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer, who assumed a nefarious role in the Kelvin Sampson administration, to offer a piece of his mind. This was Crean’s forum, his fleeting opportunity to remind a maligned ex-Hoosier, a national audience and least of all himself just how much he’s accomplished in Bloomington in five years.
Take a look at the exchange between Crean and a surprisingly composed Meyer before IU assistant Tim Buckley valiantly extinguished the confrontation.
Meyer, of course, was a member of the Sampson staff outed for making more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits, which prompted the former IU head coach to resign and gave way to Crean’s turn in charge of the program.
Notice the irony? The very man Tom Crean accuses of ruining his program is partly the reason Crean got the job in the first place. If T.C. could redo his Sunday shenanigans with a rational mind, he’d embrace Meyer in a brotherly hug (like this) and never let go. Thanks to the mess Meyer and the rest of the Sampson regime left behind, Crean had the chance to spearhead an heroic clean-up project. That’s an instant reputation booster when done successfully.
What’s better, the NCAA cleared Meyer’s name of any wrongdoing in the Sampson case. Meyer was merely cited for a secondary violation — you know, the same violation Crean committed when he conveniently forgot about a dead recruiting period during a visit to Gary Harris’ high school last year.
If Crean has an axe to grind with the person foremost responsible for the shabby Indiana program he inherited, it ought to be with former athletics director Rick Greenspan, who hired Sampson after he had just been canned at Oklahoma for, quite appropriately, making several hundred illicit phone calls to recruits.
Crean, however, shouldn’t begrudge anyone tied to the downfall of IU hoops prior to his arrival. The missteps of past school employees like Greenspan, Sampson and, yes, Meyer are precisely why Sunday’s conference clincher was so strikingly impressive.