I feel like most of the videos I Like or Retweet on the Internet have a certain level of ridiculousness to them. Truck full of cows overturns, only to leave all the cows unharmed, mooing, and newly-free? Can’t share that fast enough.
So, I’ve had a hard time figuring out why I’m more than a little obsessed with a clip of Indiana Men’s Basketball coach Tom Crean after IU’s victory over Michigan a while back. By all accounts, Crean should have been happy. The Hoosiers had just clinched their first undisputed Big Ten Regular Season Championship since 1993 which, at least in Indiana, is sort of a big deal.
But in the clip, Crean is anything but happy. He’s in the face of Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer and he’s fuming. “You know what you did! You helped wreck the program!” At this point, Meyer’s aware this is a little more than your standard post-game handshake and starts to disengage. Crean goes after him, pushing up against one of his own assistants, who is trying to hold him back.
Before his gig in Ann Arbor, Meyer had been an assistant at Indiana under Crean’s predecessor, Kelvin Sampson. Sampson had left IU amidst recruiting controversies that saw sanctions leveled against him and the school. Crean inherited a team that was facing three years of sanctions, and a roster that only consisted of two walk-ons.
In the years since then, Crean took the team from a 6-25 record to finishing this regular season at 25-6. But there he is, after one of the team’s bigger victories all year, going after someone he feels is (at least partially) responsible for the rough state he found the Hoosiers in.
“You helped wreck our program!”
I’m not exactly sure it’s a fight Crean should have been picking. He’s not going after Sampson here, and everything happened before Crean rolled into Bloomington.
Maybe this should have all been water under the bridge.
But to Crean, it wasn’t. He didn’t go after Meyer because Meyer had done anything to him personally, he went after Meyer because of what he’d done to the program.
He’s going after Meyer to let him know his actions weren’t going to be given a pass, just because they happened before Crean was on the job.
Meyer had hurt the program, Crean is now the steward of the program, and he was going to be damned if he’d give Meyer a free ride on it.
And here’s why I think I’m just a little in love with Crean in this clip: every week, I feel like I’m getting closer to being part of something like the program, something that I’d be totally willing to come off looking like a lunatic on television to defend.
Danee and I have stumbled into this group of people during our 15-or-so months in Fort Wayne and it’s starting to feel like something much larger than the sum of its parts. Katie Pruitt’s already written a bit about it, back when we thought it was just Mad Men Club, but it feels like we’ve expanded so much since then. We’ve found allies through our jobs, through the organizations we volunteer with, through Twitter, through things like The Bomb Shelter, and all of these people have become Real Life Friends, and everybody seems to actually get along pretty well.
We’re together at Henry’s, or helping Andy and Katie move, or in five minutes of conversation at the ACPL, or at Oscar Night at the Cinema Center, or (occasionally) at a pye,brown event like The Bomb Shelter, but wherever it happens, it always feels like we’re pulling in the same direction.
Any ideas we might have had that it was location specific fell apart when Graham drove three hours Friday night, showed up unannounced to play Rock Band, and the room immediately exploded with happiness. If we thought it was just about hanging out, that myth was busted when everyone saw Ryan Schnurr’s video of The Bomb Shelter and immediately fell in love. It feels like we’re constantly redefining the edges of this thing, but always expanding, and every time we push things out a little further because we’ve found someone else we’re a little obsessed with, it’s an excuse for celebration.
We don’t play sports and we don’t have jerseys and we don’t really have a name, but watching Crean stalk Meyer makes it pretty clear to me that these people are my version of the program. I don’t know how long this will last, I don’t know how big it will get, but I absolutely know that if I felt someone had done something to wreck this thing we’re all working to create, I would go after them with that intensity Crean showed.
And yes, deciding to do that might look crazy at the time, or on Sportscenter the next day… but when it’s about something bigger than yourself, when it’s about the program, you’d be crazy not to.