Indiana Daily Student

Column: Harbaugh to Michigan brings ideas of Stevens to IU

Rarely do we stay true to our childhood aspirations.

They’re often too grandiose or imaginary. Circumstances change. We grow up, reorder our priorities and abandon that inner child.

There’s always something that stands in the way of our first dream.

So when Jim Harbaugh accepted the head coaching job at Michigan, I — and likely every non-Michigan fan — was stunned.

It was easy to discredit rumors that Harbaugh would leave his cushy position with the San Francisco 49ers for Michigan, a dilapidated program, for the sake of tradition and his ties to Ann Arbor.

But the Wolverine hire — or should we call it Harbaugh’s decision — might be the best thing the conference rival could have done for IU.

Might, if you believe the old wives’ tale that Brad Stevens would give anything to be the coach of IU men’s basketball.

Harbaugh’s return to Ann Arbor is an outlier in the trends of modern coaching — a climate where money talks, destination matters little and the collegiate level is always subordinate to the pros.

Offer a coach an extra million or five and he’ll coach anywhere.

And with professional organizations having bigger budgets than college institutions, universities are perennially disadvantaged.

But for Harbaugh, the decision of where to coach wasn’t about paychecks and Super Bowls.

It was about raising his five children on the sidelines where he grew up.

Even more so, it was about fulfilling a childhood dream, one he’s had since he first romped the offices of legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler as a 9-year-old boy, a dream renewed during his years as the Wolverine quarterback.

Stevens might not have attended IU, but he’s a Hoosier tried and true.

A Zionsville, Ind., native, Stevens was raised on Bob Knight’s Hoosiers.

In 2007 he became the youngest head coach in college basketball, restoring pride to the Hoosier state through his continued achievements at Butler.

So when he took a job with the Celtics in 2013, there was a something out of place about it, despite the obvious advantages.

Stevens got a better paycheck and a bigger stage, but the rising coach traded that momentum away for a position in which he knew he would have little success during the next several years.

At Assembly Hall, Stevens’ success would be arguably immediate.

No one can argue Crean hasn’t done a fine job of recruiting and rebuilding during his eight-year tenure — the banners behind the baskets help with that.

It’s the ability to mold young men and further develop the talent they bring to IU that many feel Crean doesn’t have.

With Stevens, that ability was showcased during back-to-back national title game runs on the backs of mid-major athletes at Butler.

Of course, Harbaugh’s brother-in-law still has to vacate the head coaching position, something neither he nor IU has given any indication will happen.

But the burner underneath Crean’s seat has only gotten hotter since his No. 1-ranked team was bounced in the Sweet Sixteen from the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

When Harbaugh was first offered a head coaching position in Ann Arbor, I didn’t believe in the prestige of Michigan or the pride of Maize and Blue.

But if Michigan can hire its dream coach, I have to believe IU can too.

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