This was always likely to happen; Tom Crean doesn’t strike anyone as the kind of coach satisfied by spending a lot of time away from the sport. After a few days of rumors, he’s reportedly heading to Athens to take over at Georgia.
That’s via Woj:
Tom Crean is finalizing an agreement to become the next coach at Georgia, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 15, 2018
We wrote about this possibility yesterday, and why it had the chance to be a great fit for both sides:
For one, Georgia is a football school, and they’re poised to be at the top of that sport for the foreseeable future. That means less visibility for the basketball program, but it also means lowered expectations.
Crean did a ton of good at Indiana, bringing the program back from the brink and delivering two conference championships and three Sweet 16 runs during a five-year span. But he also missed a few tournaments and struggled to endear himself to fans, which isn’t necessarily a condemnation. An environment where Crean could recruit the southeast and the mid-Atlantic region (the latter of which he did very well at Indiana), utilize Georgia’s resources, and build up a program that doesn’t have the weight of long-dormant past success?
Crean’s Indiana teams were always a lot of fun to watch, with a high-risk/high-reward style that led to plenty of success. (Along with a few disappointing Sweet 16 exits.) But while Georgia is gaining a very solid coach, and Crean is heading to a school that could be the perfect platform for his particular gifts as a coach.
There is one group that loses in this move, though: television viewers. Crean had spent the year as an analyst for ESPN, moving between studio and color work and doing a great job in both roles, perhaps most notably when, during a late timeout, he correctly predicted Oklahoma’s playcall, drawing Tony Romo comparisons.
(Also, remember when Oklahoma was good? Now they’re out of the tournament and Crean is coaching again. Life happens fast.)
Here’s what we wrote then about what made Crean so good as an analyst:
That’s absolutely fantastic analysis, without taking viewers out of the moment (unlike the fan’s hand that obscured the basket itself.) Romo’s act wore a bit thin, but not for the knowledge he brought; he was just obviously a bit green in terms of knowing when to talk and when to let the game breathe.
Crean seems much more comfortable, which makes sense given his years of studio work. He seems likely to coach again soon, and his TV work might actually help his prospects, even; Crean has sometimes struggled to connect with fans, and this is a great outlet for him.
The best analysts tend to be people who are either just out of the game they’re covering, still in the game, or about to head back to the game. Crean has worked TV before while he was coaching at Indiana, so we might get him again while he’s at Georgia, but not the same volume, and not as a color commentator. Hopefully things work out for him in Athens, but if not, he’ll always be a welcome presence on commentary.