On a majority of college campuses, coaches are the highest paid university employees and the most influential figures in the state. They’re also captains of discipline, consistency and self-proclaimed molders of young men. Unfortunately, success and power are followed by vanity at times. Power is a dangerous narcotic and it may be starting to get to some of these coaches’ heads.
How else do you explain Tom Crean’s decision to glide to midcourt after the buzzer sounded and gloat in the face of Michigan assistant coach, Jeff Meyer’s face? In the moments following Indiana’s dramatic one-point victory over the Michigan Wolverines, the power, adrenaline and endorphins coursing through his veins had him acting out like Yeezy at the Grammys.
“You know what you did. You helped wreck our program,” Crean shouted in Meyer’s face.
You could tell by the deranged grin on his face while he walked away that Crean was feeling himself. Crean was on a special type of power trip. If that had been Victor Oladipo or Cody Zeller, they would have been running laps around the Hoosier state until their Big Ten tournament opener. Not only was he at an all-time high after reaching the Big Ten’s pinnacle for the second season in a row, but he was staring at an assistant coach who was on Kelvin Sampson’s Hoosier staff before Sampson buried the program underneath the rubble of shame and sanctions.
Unfortunately, Crean clowned himself. Meyer was cleared of all wrongdoing during the NCAA’s investigation. Witnessing the increasingly erratic behavior of college coaches this season, you’ve got to ask yourself what’s actually in these coaches’ water bottles.
To Crean’s credit, at least he directed his tirade toward an opposing coach instead of a student-athlete who is forced to endure the verbal abuse to keep his scholarship. However, at a surprising rate, college coaches have been taking shots at defenseless punching bags.
Back in November, Sean Woods of Morehead State let his king-of-the-castle mentality overrule his logical train of thought when he shoved and verbally accosted senior Devon Atkinson on national television in the final minutes of a loss to Kentucky.
Cal’s Mike Montgomery shoved guard Allen Crabbe during a timeout due to his disgust over the guard’s play while his Golden Bears trailed the lowly USC Trojans in the second half.
His own AD responded by slapping him, metaphorically, with a one-game suspension. Rutgers coach Mike Rice was quietly suspended three games after the Newark Star-Ledger reported that he had repeatedly hurled basketballs towards the heads of players in practice
Most coaches teach humility and constantly stress restraint from players. When you start ignoring your own teachings, you come across as hypocritical and it’s not long until players tune them out, as well.
However, despite the epidemic of coaches gone wild, Rice is the only one who could be classified as a recidivist. The ouster of Crean’s legendary predecessor, Bobby Knight, thirteen years ago brought an end to the era of coaches running amok on campuses. These coaches need to pull themselves together before this becomes a recurring theme or before a physically stronger player, loses his cool and fights back.