BLOOMINGTON, IN – FEBRUARY 01: Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Assembly Hall on February 1, 2017 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It’s usually not a good thing when a college basketball coach is trending on Twitter, and whether it was because he got trampled by an opposing player or because his team has lost five of its last six games, Tom Crean’s moment in the Twitter spotlight was no different.

Crean’s Indiana team spent its Sunday afternoon in the spotlight of national TV on CBS by getting blown out by Michigan. The loss almost certainly pushes the Hoosiers out of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years. According to, IU is favored to win just one of its five remaining games. If that happens, the Hoosiers might even miss out on the NIT.

As is usually the case after losses like these, #firetomcrean was making its way across IU basketball Twitter.

The question of whether Indiana should fire Tom Crean is perhaps the most existential crisis of college basketball Twitter year after year, and nobody can really make a definitive case either way. Call if the Crean Conundrum, if you will. This is the debate:

  • Crean has won two of the last four Big Ten titles, including last year. What more do you want?
  • Indiana deserves better than that. Bob Knight! Tradition, something, something!
  • College basketball has changed. Indiana can’t expect constant national titles. We don’t want to have a coaching turnstile based on unreasonable past expectations and turn into the basketball version of Nebraska.
  • Yeah, but Crean hasn’t brought IU close to a national title. He only has six NCAA Tournament wins in nine years. He hasn’t even gotten past the Sweet Sixteen. Also he looks goofy sometimes and it’s embarrassing.
  • They had the best team in the country in 2013. And looking goofy isn’t a reason to fire someone.
  • Shit happens in the NCAA Tournament. In a 64-team tournament, the best team doesn’t usually win.
  • He’s even bad in the Big Ten. He has a losing record against Northwestern! The same Northwestern that has never made the NCAA Tournament.
  • He arrived with unprecedented sanctions from the Kelvin Sampson era, and this year he’s been decimated by injuries. Bad luck and circumstances have hurt his overall record.
  • But even our best teams couldn’t win big games. He’s never won at Wisconsin, and he lost all of his Sweet Sixteen games, against North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky.
  • Okay, so who would be better?
  • Stop.
  • Fine, I’m writing a 1,000-word Twitter essay about why Crean sucks.
  • Cool, I’ll see you back here when we beat Kansas again. Or North Carolina again. Or Kentucky again.
  • And I’ll see you back when we lose to Eastern f-ing Washington again.

Both sides in this debate have some ridiculous flaws and some very good points. It’s impossible to definitively say that Crean deserves to stay at Indiana, just like you can’t say he’s been a total failure. There’s reason to believe that a healthy Hoosiers team would have been a national title contender this year, and there’s also reason to believe that Crean teams all apart way too easily, even when they’re healthy.

I don’t know if Indiana should fire Tom Crean, and I’m not going to question whatever athletic director Fred Glass decides to do.

But I do know that the next time Indiana loses a game it shouldn’t, we’re going to be having this debate again, because Crean is nothing if not the goofiest, strangest and most polarizing coach in college basketball.

About Kevin Trahan

Kevin mostly covers college football and college basketball, with an emphasis on NCAA issues and other legal issues in sports. He is also an incoming law student. He's written for SB Nation, USA Today, VICE Sports, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.