Indiana on March 15 and announced that a super-rich booster had agreed to give the school $10 million to cover his buyout. Nine days later, Indiana still doesn't have a new coach.
In fact, it barely has a team.
That's because Race Thompson on Wednesday became the third IU starter -- not just player, starter -- to enter the transfer portal since the end of the season, joining Armaan Franklin and Aljami Durham. Those three combined to average 31.8 points and 13.4 rebounds this past season. They ranked second (Franklin), third (Durham) and fourth (Thompson) on the team in scoring, second (Thompson), third (Franklin) and fourth (Durham) on the team in rebounding. So these are not end-of-the-bench/out-of-the-rotation guys. They matter. And though it's true any (or even all) of them could exit the transfer portal and return to Indiana after the school hires its next coach, that's not usually how these things work.
So are we sure this was money well spent?
To be clear, it's not my money so I don't care. But just looking at it practically, when this is all over, and everything is settled, how likely is it that Indiana will actually be in a better spot than it was two weeks ago? If the school hires Texas Tech's Chris Beard or Baylor's Scott Drew or Arkansas' Eric Musselman or former Michigan coach John Beilein, perhaps everything will be just fine even if it appears any of them would get off to a rough start considering the state of the roster. But there's a growing sense in college basketball circles that Indiana might be more focused on hiring somebody with Indiana ties -- perhaps a former player like New York Knicks assistant Mike Woodson, G-League assistant Calbert Cheaney, Michigan State assistant Dane Fife, UCLA assistant Michael Lewis or former NBA coach Keith Smart.
Any of them could be great, I guess.
But, at this point, it's fair to wonder if this process might turn into a net negative that culminates with Indiana paying $10 million only to end up with a lesser coach and inferior roster. Again, any of the candidates with strong IU ties could be terrific. I don't personally know them all, but the ones I know I like. So I'm willing to keep an open mind. But, that said, and this is just the truth, none of them would currently be candidates for any other job comparable to the Indiana job. So if Indiana goes that route, it would have spent $10 million -- plus whatever it takes to hire the next coach and his staff -- to replace Miller with somebody who is way more of a gamble than Miller seemed at the time he was hired in March 2017, and Miller's replacement would then likely have a worse roster in Year One than Miller would've had in Year Five.
Again, it's not my money. So I don't care.
And if the school just wanted to be done with Archie Miller no matter what, same way it previously just wanted to be done with Tom Crean no matter what, fine. My only point is that there are multiple reasons to think Indiana really might've just spent $10 million to put itself in a worse position going forward.
The coach IU wanted gone is gone -- but so are three starters and a sit-out transfer named Parker Stewart, who would've been eligible next season after averaging 19.3 points at UT-Martin as a sophomore. And who knows what impact all of this could have on Trayce Jackson-Davis? He averaged a team-high 19.1 points and 9.0 rebounds this season while shooting 51.7% from the field. He's the Hoosiers' best player. And though the 6-foot-9 forward is not guaranteed to be picked if he enters the 2021 NBA Draft, is he really going to want to return to Indiana to play for a new coach and what will likely be a bad team? Maybe. But I promise you other staffs are taking advantage of this coach-less window Indiana is currently going through and planting seeds with Jackson-Davis and/or the people around him about how the transfer portal might be in his best interest too, especially if he ever wants to actually play in the NCAA Tournament.
As always, we'll see.
The final verdict on all of this won't be known for a while, of course. So I'm happy to revisit it later. But with four Indiana players, including three starters, already in the transfer portal, and with Indiana still in need of a coach, and with there being no guarantee the home-run hire Indiana fans desire even exists, it's reasonable to wonder if this could turn into a situation where a school paid a lot of money just to make itself worse.