It turns out obnoxious takes by national sportswriters weren’t limited to IU basketball last week…
Last Thursday, just hours after Tom Crean was fired, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel dropped the obligatory national media “POSSIBLE CANDIDATES” piece. It has everything one would expect: analysis of whether IU is truly an “elite” basketball program before concluding that it’s not, subtle hints that Crean was done wrong, and of course, a list of candidates.1 It also has a little something you wouldn’t necessarily expect: HOT TOM ALLEN TAKES. Take it away, Pete:
It sounds simplistic, but Glass needs to find a distinct upgrade from Crean. And that’s going to put a lot of pressure on Glass, who didn’t blow anyone away in his only recent high-profile coaching search.
It is fair to point out that Glass’s decision-making with respect to IU’s football coach adds a little pressure to the current search. He gave Kevin Wilson an extension and then fired him less than a year later, while providing a less-than-forthcoming explanation for the move. He then hired a guy with only one year of coordinator experience at the Power 5 level and no head coaching experience above high school. Fine. We’ve made all of those points before here.
Even if it’s fair, it’s still a minor point. Glass’s tenure as AD will rise or fall based almost entirely on his next hire. Tom Allen could take IU to a Rose Bowl Citrus Bowl (let’s not get carried away), and it wouldn’t matter if Fred hires the wrong basketball coach. So any reference to Allen or IU football in a piece about Glass’s options for a new basketball coach should be a sentence, at most – like the excerpt above.
But Petey T didn’t stop there. To understand why, we need to know a little more about Mr. Thamel. Much of Pete’s professional output flows from the close relationship he has cultivated with Urban Meyer, who gives Thamel the access necessary to write behind-the-scenes pieces about Meyer and his Ohio State program on an almost monthly basis (like this one, that one, or the other). When Thamel isn’t serving as a de facto OSU beat reporter, he’s writing similar all-access articles about former Urby lieutenant Tom Herman (like this one, that one, or the other, all from the last six months). So one might say he has a particular viewpoint.
With that in mind, carry on, Pete:
After firing football coach Kevin Wilson in December, Glass hired Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen. While Allen should be given a fair chance, you’d have to search long and hard around college athletics to find anyone impressed with the hire.
An unsourced slam. Lovely. Allow me to translate: (1) Thamel’s sources among current and former Ohio State coaches didn’t like the hire – possibly because Urby clearly has a soft spot for Kevin Wilson, who he quickly hired as his offensive coordinator, and (2) Big J journos2 like Thamel who put out the always-objective COACHING HIRE REPORT CARDS articles didn’t give the Allen hiring high marks. I don’t think that means the vast majority of “college athletics” disagrees with hiring a defensive coordinator who orchestrated the best statistical turnaround by a defense in 2016 and who hails from and has significant contacts throughout the state of Indiana.
So agree to disagree. Regardless, point made, right? No need to elaborate on how you think Allen sucks?
Let’s just say Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin didn’t shudder in fear.
Just whom, dear Peter, could Fred Glass have hired to make that trio fearful? Nick Saban? Dabo Swinney? Seriously. This is Indiana football. I think everyone agrees Purdue hit a home run with the Jeff Brohm hiring, yet I guarantee none of the gentlemen listed above are losing a minute of sleep worrying about Brohm. If you are judging IU football hires based on who makes Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State fearful, you’re doing it wrong.
Surely that’s enough snark and condescension for one paragraph, right?
(More likely, they went to Google.
Correct. Those coaches had never heard of the defensive coordinator for a team in their division. Somehow I suspect Meyer was aware of the guy coordinating the defense that held JT Barrett to 9 of 21 passing and 93 yards. Thamel acts as if Glass plucked Allen directly from Ben Davis. Would I prefer Allen have a little more experience? Sure, but he didn’t exactly come from nowhere.
Ok, now he must be done. There’s no way Thamel would double down on his unsourced nonsense.
Oh, there’s a way:
And it will surprise many if Allen wins as much as Wilson did, which, really, wasn’t that much).
See above for translation. In truth, no one should be surprised if in 2017 Allen exceeds Wilson’s best win total of 6. Almost everyone is back from a team that easily could have won 7 or 8 in 2016. Much of any 2017 success will be due to talent assembled by Wilson, but Pete’s statement is still weak. And don’t miss that last little jab – Wilson was better than Allen will ever be, but even when IU had a good coach, they still sucked at football. Because again, that’s somehow relevant to a piece about Crean’s firing…
Maybe Thamel’s claims about Allen will end up being right, but the truth or falsity of his statements isn’t the point. The point is that none of it was necessary. It did not add anything to the discussion of Crean’s firing or the candidates for his replacement. A paragraph like that would never have been written about a program with more national clout because Thamel would have been afraid of drawing the ire of that coaching staff or administration.3 It was unprofessional garbage that should not have been published in OSU’s student newspaper, let alone on SI.com.
But hey, I’m sure Urban thought it was funny. And that’s all that really matters, right??