BLOOMINGTON, IN – JANUARY 03: Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers reacts in the second half of the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Assembly Hall on January 3, 2017 in Bloomington, Indiana. Wisconsin defeated Indiana 75-68. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Well, this was a hell of a news dump. Minutes after the first NCAA Tournament game tipped off Thursday, Indiana announced Tom Crean has been fired.

Crean had been Indiana’s coach for nine seasons, bringing them back from NCAA violation abyss in the wake of Kelvin Sampson and putting together some very good teams, including the 2015/2016 squad (just last season!) which won the Big Ten and defeated Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament en route to the Sweet 16.

This year’s team was ranked highly in the preseason, and after a few early wins over Kansas and North Carolina, was ranked as high as third in the country. A few injuries and a run of uninspiring play later, they missed the NCAA Tournament, and were then waxed by Georgia Tech in the opening round of the NIT.

Here’s the full release from Indiana on the firing:

It’s odd timing, considering his conference championship just last season, but at the same time, it’s also the second tournament miss in four seasons. And the way this one occurred was endlessly frustrating for Indiana fans, leading to very few vocal Crean supporters by the end of the year. Speculation had abounded that Crean may leave on his own, to a job like Missouri or N.C. State, but that was apparently never Crean’s plan.

And now, he’s gone. Indiana will likely aim high with their coaching search, but it’s incredibly unrealistic to expect someone like Brad Stevens or Billy Donovan to come back to college for the Indiana job at this point. Coaches like Gregg Marshall or Archie Miller seem more likely, but their accomplishments aren’t exactly head and shoulders beyond what Crean did at Marquette or what he did at Indiana.

It’s a very important hire for Fred Glass, as well. The athletic department has had a few months of turmoil, having fired football coach Kevin Wilson due to off-field concerns. Both of these moves are likely to serve as a referendum on Glass’s tenure in charge.

Indiana is no longer a top-tier job, but it is indeed a much better job than it was when Crean took it, and he deserves so much credit for that. Whether or not Indiana fans will eventually appreciate the job he did remains to be seen.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.

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