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The Journal Gazette

Monday, February 20, 2017 6:43 pm

McCaffery: Crean's job not in jeopardy

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

On the eve of Indiana's road game against Iowa, Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery used his radio show Monday night to offer expansive comments on his respect for Hoosiers coach Tom Crean and on Crean's job security.

It all started when a caller presented McCaffery with a rumor. The caller said he heard Crean would be fired and replaced with UCLA coach Steve Alford, a star player on Indiana's last national championship team.

"You've got a better chance of hitting the lottery than that happening," McCaffery replied. "That has no credibility."

And then McCaffery really got going on Crean, who has taken heat from fans as the Hoosiers have slumped to 15-12 after opening the season 14-6.

"They're not going to fire the guy," McCaffery said. "They went to the Sweet 16 last year. They've lost five games in the league by five points or less. They're playing hard for him."

Crean, of course, took over at Indiana in 2008 after predecessor Kelvin Sampson was found to have violated NCAA rules.

"The guy walked into as bad a mess as anyone has had to overcome in the history of our profession," McCaffery said. "They were playing nothing but walk-ons when he first got there, three scholarship players. It was imperative he build that thing without cutting corners because they just fired a guy for cheating. Tom did it the right way. He got the fan base energized again."

McCaffery expressed dismay at criticism of Crean.

"Every time they lose everybody's throwing shots at him," McCaffery said. "He handles that very well. This guy knows what he's doing."

Heading into Tuesday's contest at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, the Hoosiers have had five days off since losing 75-74 at Minnesota.

"He's had a week to prepare for us," McCaffery said of Crean. "Who knows what he's going to do; his mind never shuts off. He's big-time reader. He's always recommending books to people. Always thinking is what makes him great."