Archie Miller a good hire at Indiana, but his promotion to the big time comes with big-time expectations

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USA TODAY

Archie Miller a good hire at Indiana, but his promotion to the big time comes with big-time expectations

Archie Miller is the new Indiana head basketball coach, and while that gives Indiana the big splash it wanted for Tom Crean's successor, it remains to be seen whether it will please the Indiana fan base and its monster-sized expectations.

Miller is a great get for the Hoosiers, a guy who's taken the Dayton Flyers to four straight NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2014, a round the Hoosiers themselves haven't reached in 15 years. Miller has Big Ten experience, a former Thad Matta assistant at Ohio State, and he has experience recruiting in Big Ten Country.

He's been in line for a promotion from the A-10 to a major-conference program for a couple years now, and he was one of the biggest names at that level that Indiana or any other major-conference program looking for a new coach could have snagged.

But weren't Indiana fans expecting Steve Alford to come back to Bloomington?

Keeping in line with the enormous expectations this fan base always seems to have for this program, the internet was hoping athletics director Fred Glass could woo the former Indiana star back to his alma mater, pry him away from the most tradition-rich program in the country to spearhead a rebuilding effort for the team that finished tied for 10th in the Big Ten standings this season.

Those hopes seemed pretty unrealistic from the beginning — though it is difficult to argue with the immense financial attractiveness any Big Ten program has — but a perfect example of the kind of expectations that await Miller.

Marquette is plenty of distance up the college-basketball ladder from Dayton, but it was Crean, too, who made a career leap to the Hoosiers almost a decade ago. Crean's nine-year tenure featured some program-saving digging out from the horrendous spot Kelvin Sampson left things in. It also featured two outright Big Ten championships and three seasons of 27 or more wins. But all that couldn't keep the crushing expectations off Crean's shoulders, and one season after he won a conference title in one of the toughest conference's in college hoops, he was out.

Crean's kind of success wasn't good enough at Indiana. Will Miller's be?

Of course there was inconsistency that accompanied Crean's winning. The Hoosiers were just two wins above .500 this season, the same thing that was true a season after Indiana earned a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament. The two winningest seasons during Crean's tenure were followed by years in which Indiana didn't make the NCAA tournament. Not the kind of trajectory a program expecting a national championship wants to see, hence his firing.

But that goes to show how tough the task is in Bloomington, not necessarily when it comes to building a winner but when it comes to pleasing the folks in this basketball-loving state.

That's Miller's job now, and there likely won't be too long of a honeymoon period. Miller won at the lower levels of college basketball, winning 102 games over the past four seasons, but the Big Ten is a different animal. Another former Matta assistant, John Groce, found that out over his five seasons at Illinois. After getting hired off a Sweet Sixteen run at Ohio, Groce made the NCAA tournament just once in his five seasons in Champaign, the reason for the Big Ten's other coaching change this offseason.

Miller comes to Indiana with a better resume than Groce brought to Illinois — the A-10 is a much better league on an annual basis than the MAC, and Miller did more consistent winning over a longer stretch — but with a similar challenge ahead of him. Illini fans soured on Groce relatively quick, with questions about his job status lingering for a couple of years before he was fired earlier this month. Certainly Crean was never free from questions about his job status during his time in Bloomington, not even getting them to go away with a Big Ten championship last season. Will Hoosier fans treat Miller any differently if a deep tournament run doesn't come in one of Miller's first few seasons?

Of course, that all comes with the territory of being a college basketball coach, and Miller knows that well from his time as a major-conference assistant and with his brother the head coach at Arizona. But now he has to live it every day.

"I don't think you come to Indiana if you don't want to live in the neighborhood," Miller said about the expectations during his introductory press conference Monday. "If you don't want to move into that neighborhood, then you shouldn't be here. If you like the neighborhood, then you come, and I think, like I've been at a high level at a lot of different spots. I've been with great people. I think I'm very confident that what we do works, and I'd like for the opportunity to try and make it work here.

"I think the Big Ten is an excellent league with great coaches to be with, to be against, and you're going to get better. They're going to make you better, and you're going to be better for it.

"To me, I know where we're at, and I know what the job is. That didn't waver me. I think more than anything, this is what you want if you love the game."

Miller is a great hire by Glass. It's time to find out if Indiana and its sky-high expectations make for a great landing spot for Miller.

Indiana dismisses head basketball coach Tom Crean

Indiana dismisses head basketball coach Tom Crean

The days of Tom Crean constantly being on the hot seat at Indiana are over.

The Hoosiers dismissed Crean on Thursday, bringing an end to his nine-year tenure as the team's head coach just one season after he led the team to a Big Ten regular-season championship.

"After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men's basketball program," Indiana athletics director Fred Glass said in a statement. "Tom Crean brought us through one of the most challenging periods in IU basketball history, led his players to many successes in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with class and integrity. While winning two outright Big Ten titles in five years and being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Tom worked tirelessly to develop great young men and successful teams. However, ultimately, we seek more consistent, high levels of success, and we will not shy away from our expectations. Tom is a good man and a good coach, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his many positive contributions to Indiana basketball. We wish him well.

"The national search for our new coach begins immediately. The board of trustees and the president have expressly delegated to me the responsibility and authority for this search and hire. While I will not establishing a formal search committee or advisory committee, I will consult with basketball experts from around the country and throughout the state of Indiana, including many former Indiana University basketball players. The expectations for Indiana University basketball are to perennially contend for and win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament and win our next national championship — and more after that. We will identify and recruit a coach who will meet these expectations."

The move to fire Crean might seem somewhat shocking considering the Hoosiers are just one year removed from winning an outright Big Ten regular-season championship and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen of last season's NCAA tournament. But on the first day of this year's NCAA tournament, Indiana's season is already over, ending with a loss to Georgia Tech in the NIT on Tuesday.

Undoubtedly Crean's tenure in Bloomington was a roller coaster of results. While digging the program out of the scandalous Kelvin Sampson Era, Crean won a total of just 28 games in his first three seasons. But in his fourth year, the Hoosiers won 27 games on earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. The following season, they won 29 games and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, also advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

Year 6 saw just a 17-15 record and no NCAA tournament berth. After 20 wins in Year 7, the Hoosiers returned to the Big Dance but lost their first game. Last season, Indiana went 27-8, winning the conference's regular-season title and beating Kentucky in the NCAA tournament before bowing out to eventual national runner-up North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen.

But this season, the Hoosiers fell apart despite winning huge non-conference games against Kansas and North Carolina, two of the No. 1 seeds in this year's tournament. Indiana went just 7-11 in the Big Ten and finished the season with a 18-16 record.

Despite developing top-10 NBA draftees Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh, Crean has taken heat from the Indiana faithful seemingly every season since arriving in Bloomington. His hot seat reached its highest temperature in the past several seasons, when in addition to inconsistent on-court results, the program faced a litany of off-the-court incidents that resulted in arrests, dismissals and even a long hospital stay for one player after a teammate accidentally struck him with a car.

In the end, the results didn't look too good all totaled up. Crean posted a 166-135 overall record with an ugly 71-91 conference record.

Certainly, as Glass stated, expectations are high at one of college hoops' more-storied programs in a basketball-rabid state. Crean couldn't meet those expectations on an annual basis.

Recruiting News and Notes: Luke Ford commits to Arkansas

Recruiting News and Notes: Luke Ford commits to Arkansas

Luke Ford (TE), Carterville

Carterville High School three-star ranked junior tight end Luke Ford (6-foot-7, 250 pounds) ended his recruiting process on Monday. Ford, who was drawing national recruiting interest and scholarship offers this winter, made an unofficial visit to Arkansas this past weekend and gave Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema his verbal commitment.

"I'm pumped right now, if you can't tell," Ford told HogSports.com's Danny Ford on Monday. "I am pumped. This is awesome, I'm so excited. I'm happy to shut down the recruitment and just focus on school and sports now. I'm committed. I loved everything about Arkansas that I saw. I just don't know what to say, I'm pumped."

Gavin McCabe (DT), Marist

Marist junior three-star ranked defensive tackle recruit Gavin McCabe (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) has 24 scholarship offers this winter and remains on multiple recruiting radars.

"I have 24 offers so far," McCabe said. "It's been fun but in all honesty it's also been sort of crazy."

McCabe will remain busy this spring by making multiple unofficial visits.

"I've been able to visit Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State and Miami (OH) so far and I also went to games at Michigan State, Kansas State and Iowa State," McCabe said. "I'm looking to make a trip out East soon and visit schools such as Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Virginia and North Carolina. I also want to head down South and see Arkansas and Kansas. I know that I'll also head back to visit schools like Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa and Wisconsin. I also want to get all of these visits in by the end of spring recruiting."

Samson Evans (ATH), Prairie Ridge

While Prairie Ridge three-star ranked athlete Samson Evans (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) was hoping to have a handful of scholarship offers at this stage of his recruiting process, he admits to being pleasantly surprised by his success on the recruiting trail so far this winter.

"I have 11 offers now and I had no idea I would have so many offers at this point a year ago," Evans said. "I also just didn't expect to have as many quality offers as I have right now. I was hoping to maybe build up to some bigger Power 5 offers so it's been a great surprise."

Evans also shared his gameplan in regards to his recruiting process.

"I have a top schools list in my head but I won't be releasing any top schools list," Evans said. "I would like to be done with recruiting before the start of the season. I might decide then or I might decide at the end of spring or maybe even earlier. It all just depends when I feel ready and comfortable in making my decision. Once I'm 100 percent comfortable with a school then I'll make my choice."

Does Evans get any recruiting pitches from teammate and good friend Jeff Jenkins, who recently committed to Iowa?

"Jeff and I have lunch together every day and he makes sure to let me know where he stands with Iowa and that he wants me to commit to them," Evans said. "It's not over the top all the time, but he always seems to be wearing Hawkeyes gear a lot when ever we hang out."

Dashaun Mallory (DT), Bolingbrook

Bolingbrook junior defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory (6-foot-3, 280 pounds) is starting to see his recruiting stock take off over the past month. Mallory, who has early offers so far from Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Iowa State, NIU, Toledo and Wyoming, also made a recent visit to Michigan State.

"I was able to visit Michigan State a few weeks ago and it was awesome," Mallory said. "I really enjoyed myself at Michigan State and it was an amazing experience. The coaches at Michigan State said they love my game and want to get me back on campus. They want me to keep working hard and also stay in touch."

Mallory has also been in touch this month with coaches from Arkansas, Penn State, Michigan, Louisville, Kansas State, North Dakota State and Western Michigan.