So now what?
Tom Crean pulled the cruelest April fools joke of them all when he left Marquette for Indiana. In the wake of that stunner, I talked to current players, former players, boosters, other media members and fans and what I came away with was a variety of different attitudes and perspectives. Let's cut to the chase, because it's late and there is not much to say.
There are six (count them six) programs in college basketball that are identified by the name on the front of the jersey, not who is running the operation on the sideline.
Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina and Indiana.
That's it. Six. Crean took a pass on Kentucky because there were too many restrictions and those people have crazy expectations.
Indiana is in danger of losing its elite status after Kelvin Sampson could not put his cell phone down, So IU flexed its elite status muscle and swiped the guy that put Marquette hoops back on the college basketball map and made it relevant on campus again.
Crean did a lot for the city, the state and the program. Dick Vitale and ESPN's "College GameDay" don't show up for mediocre teams.
In nine years, Crean got to a Final Four, recruited a diamond in the rough player (Wade), kept him around long enough to help get him to that Final Four, built a program without any McDonald's All-Americans, did it with local kids, made a couple of them into serviceable NBA players and graduated them at 93 percent clip.
Let's not forget his kids didn't terrorize the campus, catch cases or embarrass the university. By the way, have you seen or been to the Al McGuire Center on campus? It's a lovely facility. Crean also helped Marquette make the progression from Conference USA to the Big East, while taking teams to the postseason in eight out of his nine years (5 NCAAs and 3 NITs). These are just the facts, not a blogger's delusional theories. So what if you don't like his inbounds play? You don't park a Lexus because it has a scratch. WAKE UP!
Now, did they capitalize with recruits the way some thought he would post D. Wade? No. Did a lot of assistant coaches and or players flee his program? Yes. Were there issues about the way he treated certain things and people? Of course. I speak on that one on a personal level, but I was cool with coach after a clash in 2003.
Add up the pros against the cons and it's a no-contest. Crean got it done!
Now that he has moved on, it is time to look at what awaits the next coach: an upper echelon Big East program that is on the national stage, relevant in national college basketball circles, plays in a state of the art practice facility, has a great venue for home games. It has a receptive and friendly media in Milwaukee and a strong and vibrant alumni and campus base that have stepped up to make this one of the richest jobs in the country if you win games and sell tickets.
You don't compete with football, which can help or hurt your program. There is a lot of good stuff to sell it you are Marquette Basketball.
You will hear the names over the next couple of days...Tony Bennett, Bruce Pearl, Lon Kruger, John Calipari, etc... I've got to throw my guy out there - Jeff Capel, the coach at Oklahoma. Do your homework, or as I was told once by a journeyman NBA player, "You don't know me? Try Google."
Whatever new AD Steve Cottingham and the circle of trust do, I hope they don't go to San Antonio for the Final Four looking for a coach with any self-confidence issues as a group. They should seek a coach like the one they are seeking to replace -- confident, cocky, and assured he will get the job done.
Crean didn't stick around like Jim Boeheim at the Syracuse, Jim Calhoun at UConn, Lute Olson at Arizona or Tom Izzo at Michigan State. However, he did stick around long enough to make this more than a stepping stone job. If you don't believe that to be so, lets see what kind of bees are attracted to the Marquette honey pot.
I'll talk to you soon.
Steve Haywood is the host of That Being Said, which airs weeknights at 6 p.m. on Milwaukees ESPN Radio 1510 Days / 1290 Nights. A lifelong Milwaukee resident, Steve has been working on the radio since 1996 and also is executive producer of Sports Perspectives on MATA Community Media.
After graduating from Milwaukee Tech High School in 1985, Haywood attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he graduated in 1991.
He has covered a number of major events, including the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2002 and the NBA All-Star Game in 2003.
Haywood, 39, is married with two kids, a dumb cat and a dog described as a real curmudgeon.