LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Fred Glass took over the Indiana University athletic department after the Hoosiers treated football as a Tier B sport for at least two decades.
There’s nothing Tier B about Indiana football heading to the Gator Bowl after beating Purdue for the fifth time in seven years. The IU facilities are better, the budget is bigger, the aspirations are higher, the coaching staff is committed, and the expectations to win are real.
Under Glass, the Indiana women’s basketball program also moved from Tier B to the national Top 15. The men’s soccer program won its eighth national title.
The baseball team went to the College World Series. The swimming team stirred memories of Mark Spitz and Doc Counsilman.
Significant achievements, every one of them. Glass made Indiana get serious about sports on every part of the calendar. No more going through the motions.
They are all essential components of the legacy Glass established prior to his announcement Monday that he will leave his position as the IU athletic director next spring at the conclusion of the academic year.
But there’s also one significant gap:
Glass was not able to return the Indiana men’s basketball program to its spot as the big dog of the Big Ten or as a program capable of delivering Final Fours.
Glass cannot be awarded his final grade until it is determined if Archie Miller is the guy who can do what Tom Crean, Kelvin Sampson and Mike Davis were unable to do: win the way Bob Knight and Branch McCracken won at Indiana.
That task remains incomplete, a raging mystery.
As the other IU programs advanced on the national scene, the men’s basketball program has stalled, yielding the top of the Big Ten to Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and others.
There were no national championships. There were no Final Fours. There were no Elite Eights.
There were two Big Ten regular season national titles (under Crean), but IU basketball remained as inconsistent as a teenager answering an early-morning wakeup call. There has been too much celebration of the one shot that Christian Watford made to beat Kentucky eight seasons ago and not enough ruthless insistence that Indiana win games like that in March.
Instead of directing Indiana into higher-exposure national events, Glass saddled the program with gatherings like the Crossroads Classic, which benefited Butler at Indiana’s expense.
Instead of thinking big, Indiana has thought small and come up smaller.
The Hoosiers have missed the NCAA Tournament for three consecutive seasons, and that’s not a sentence this or the next Indiana athletic director should let creep onto his resume.
Glass inherited Crean, who took over in 2008 after IU nearly death-penaltied itself because of Sampson’s inability to control his phone and text messaging habits.
Crean had a burst of success that resulted in Glass extending and enriching his contract. But after Crean missed the NCAA Tournament in two of the next four seasons, Glass audibled.
He dismissed Crean with three years left on his deal. He pivoted to Miller, awarding him a seven-year contract to leave Dayton.
This is season three. Although the Hoosiers have won 10 of their first 11 games, they are hardly a lock to do something they failed to do in Miller’s first two seasons: make the NCAA Tournament, a ridiculously low bar for an Indiana basketball coach.
The football team won at Nebraska for the first time since 1959, something Glass mentioned as one of his top memories during a press conference Monday.
But as football won at Nebraska, the basketball team huffed and puffed to hold off the Cornhuskers and their first-year coach Fred Hoiberg in IU’s Big Ten home opener Friday night.
That was after Indiana trailed Wisconsin by 30 in a game the Hoosiers lost by 20 a week earlier. (And after IU had lost its previous two home games to the lowly Cornhuskers.)
It’s early. The Big Ten is currently a rugged league with a dozen teams with 1-1 league records. But Indiana has not looked substantially better than the team that won only eight of 20 league games last season and was dispatched to the NIT.
Another NIT trip will only inspire more questions about the direction of the program and whether Glass and Miller have the program ascending to take its place with Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten.
The football program stepped forward. Ditto for women’s basketball, men’s soccer, baseball and swimming.
But men’s basketball?
IU’s basketball ascent is incomplete, and because of that, so is the Glass legacy at Indiana.
Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.