INDIANAPOLIS – One hears interesting comments when you listen to the radio. Being in Indianapolis, we are hearing wall to wall coverage about IU firing Tom Crean.
ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich, a former Indiana player and coach, was on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike Show earlier this morning. Dakich says there’s only candidate the Hoosiers should go after to replace Crean, who was fired after nine seasons on Thursday.
“You go get Steve Alford, I think he would take the job,” Dakich said. “People can say, why would he leave? Because it’s his team. It’s his state. We’ve had, for 17 years, this guy fly outside. High school coaches would love to send guys to Indiana, but it hasn’t been done right.”
Indiana appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times under Crean, never advancing past the Sweet 16. Alford, now in his fourth season at UCLA, was a two-time All-American guard for the Hoosiers and led Indiana to a national title in 1987.
Dakich believes Indiana could be college basketball’s top job.
“Millions of dollars to coach basketball at Indiana, it’s an unbelievable job and of course it’s a Top 10 job,” Dakich said. “When I was the interim coach in 2008, every guy you want to name was sneaking around, fishing around (trying to get info). Coaches who never called me before in my life.
“It may be the No. 1 job in the country.”
“You go to Indiana, you’ve got an unbelievable campus, you’ve got great academics, you’ve got amazing school spirit for basketball, kids lined up outside … you’ve got a Taj Mahal (Assembly Hall) and history. What more do you want?”
Yesterday, Steve Alford was asked about the IU coaching role during his team’s media day ahead of UCLA’s game later today.
Referencing the ’87 national title, Alford said, “I was part of that. I stood on stage with a great group of guys and won a national championship. It’s my home state. I played there. So obviously all that comes up, but I love UCLA.’’
“When I quickly trusted God and my faith, my journey has taken me to place I had no idea that that was going to be my journey and I’ve fallen in love with every spot,’’ he said. “I’ve met great people, great institutions. …
“I love Los Angeles. You’re talking about arguably the greatest brand anywhere on the planet, and we got things going at a very high level now and we’re very excited about it. We’re excited about being in this tournament and seeing what we can do in this tournament.’’
When asked if he could take a phone call from Indiana, Alford replied, “That’s really going to be my comment about that situation. I don’t want that to be what this is about. This is about us. This is about what this group of guys are doing and that’s my focus.’’
But he also said any speculation about his future will not be a distraction for his team.
“I can’t control what gets talked about, but no,’’ he said. “We’re very focused on what we’ve got to do.’’