By Jim Weber
I haven’t seen a more fitting pair of hyper-competitive spazzes in Indiana head coach Tom Crean and San Francisco 49ers head man Jim Harbaugh since the movie Step Brothers.
As you know, Crean married into the Harbaugh family when he wed Jim’s and John’s sister, Joani. But Crean’s real perfect match in the Harbaugh family is his brother-in-law, Jim. Can’t you just picture Crean sneaking into Harbaugh’s room to slam on his drum set and Harbaugh burying Crean alive in the yard after a fight?
You certainly won’t find a pair of brothers who are sorer losers or less gracious in victory.
On one hand, you have Jim. When he loses, he throws notorious temper tantrums on the sideline and complains about the officials afterward. When he wins, he’s either running up the score and asking “What’s your deal?” or slamming you on the back after the midfield handshake.
Then there’s Tom. When he loses, he’s blowing by opposing coaches during the hand shake, throwing his own tantrums on the sideline and possibly resorting to flopping in late situations. He even throws hissy fits when weekly awards don’t go his way. When he wins, Crean shoves it in your face just like Jim.
That all came to a head on Sunday afternoon after the No. 2 Hoosiers’ beat No. 7 Michigan in dramatic fashion, 72-71, to win the Big Ten title. It was college basketball’s game of the year. And then, unsurprisingly, Crean had to mar it with a bizarre postgame confrontation with Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer.
Meyer is a former Hoosiers assistant who was involved in the Kelvin Sampson cell phone scandal that rocked the Indiana program and set it back years. I certainly don’t blame Crean for being bitter. But that doesn’t excuse him from approaching Meyer after a heart-breaking loss and berating him to his face by saying, “You know what you did! You helped wreck the program! You helped wreck out program!” before being restrained with a smirk on his face.
It was a surreal moment that will now be the talk of the sports world on Monday after it was caught on film.
At some point, Crean’s antics have to stop. Either Indiana athletic director Fred Glass needs to sit down and talk with Crean or Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany needs to get on the phone from Chicago. Because it’s gotten to the point now where, win or lose, we are talking more about the postgame actions of Indiana’s head coach than the great games the No. 2 team in the country is playing.
Today, we should be discussing the awesome performance of IU big man Cody Zeller and how he and his Hoosiers teammates pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in recent memory. Crean should be the first one to realize that his postgame antics have taken the spotlight away from where it belongs: His players.
With the NCAA tournament just a week away and Indiana the favorite to win it all, Crean needs to be told how to win and lose with grace now more than ever.
Then, and only then, should Crean and Harbaugh be allowed to build bunk beds together.