This is about growth.
Marquette fans will understand that eventually.
|The next Dwyane Wade wasn't walking through Tom Crean's door at Marquette anytime soon. (Getty Images)|
But with apologies to Al McGuire, Crean had essentially hit the ceiling. And he knew it. Which is why he accepted an offer Tuesday to become the next coach at Indiana, where he'll find that consistently competing for titles in the shallow Big Ten is much simpler than trying to do the same in the too-deep-for-its-own-good Big East.
He'll also make a lot of money with this move.
And the lengthy contract he'll sign will ensure security.
But Crean was already making a lot of money and security was never an issue at Marquette. So the lone real difference between coaching the Golden Eagles and coaching the Hoosiers is that Crean will now have a better opportunity to achieve career goals while operating in the spotlight that only IU and a handful of other basketball schools can provide.
And yes, the spotlight matters.
The spotlight absolutely matters.
If you know Crean at all, you know this is so.
At Marquette he has always been second in his own state, overshadowed despite his success. For those unfamiliar, Marquette is in Milwaukee, which is in Wisconsin, which is home to the Wisconsin Badgers. And by home, I mean home -- to the point where everybody else can be made to feel like a visitor, and the ego that drove Crean and helped make him one of the better coaches in America never allowed him to be completely comfortable in that role while he watched Wisconsin's Bo Ryan Soulja Boy-dance his way into the hearts of the majority of the population.
"I grew up a Marquette fan, and Tom restored hope to a program that hadn't had real success since the national championship team in 1977," said Iowa State assistant T.J. Otzelberger, a Wisconsin native knowledgeable about the state's basketball makeup.
"Overall, Tom did an amazing job. But he was always going to play second fiddle to the Badgers and the Badgers' coach, like any Marquette coach would. So Tom was never going to get the attention he deserved at Marquette because he was overshadowed in the state and then on a national level, too. But this will change that."
Crean will go from the second-most-prominent coach in Wisconsin to the biggest celebrity in Indiana. Overnight. The limelight sources have said Washington State's Tony Bennett didn't necessarily want is something Crean will embrace. That's the off-the-court ramification. On the court, he'll go from leading a nice program in the jumbled mess that is the Big East to owning what is arguably the best job in the Big Ten, and that's a point I cannot stress enough -- that even though Crean has done, as Otzelberger put it, an "amazing" job at Marquette, he still only finished fourth, fifth and fifth in three years in the Big East because that's about all anybody can reasonably expect to do at Marquette on a consistent basis.
In other words, Dwyane Wade is not walking through that door.
But Tom Crean is walking out.
And it makes sense.
Because this is a move about growth.
And Marquette fans will understand that eventually.
Or at least they should.