Mike Davis Out at Indiana- Is Anyone Surprise?

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: February 21, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA—It’s 2002 and a young African American male just finished coaching his team against the University of Maryland in the NCAA Final game only to lose 64-52 after an incredible and improbable run through the NCAA tournament one night in March during March Madness.

Early success in life and work has a way of giving and taking away from a person, team, institution or organization. This is the story of one such scenario with current Indiana University men’s basketball coach Mike Davis. But one man’s success is another school’s mirage. you see in taking the Indiana Hoosiers to the Final game set-up Mike Davis taking off the interim hat and wearing a more prestigious one as the new coach of the University of Indiana. A move that was doomed from the beginning.

Put yourself in Mike Davis proverbial shoes. Your a young African American in a state where basketball is a religion not a game and that religion has one recognizable face on the court with the players on the sideline with the coaches and in the stands with the fans for most of the Universities existence. Mike Davis didnt have that face and even after taking the program to NCAA Final game fell short because of the legacy of not only getting to the big dance, getting to the Final Four and the final game but winning the game like the legendary coach he replaced…….. Bobby Knight. Can you win? Can you really win? How could you? And with all that pressure, all of the microscopes that coach Davis felt he was under from the University, the fans and the alumni, he decided to finish out this season and then resign.

Now proponents of the resignation will point to the Indiana Hoosiers recent decline over the last couple of years and they had some very bad losses this year including most recently to Penn State, as reasons and examples that coach Davis should have resigned or the University given him “the boot”, I went back and looked at his overall body of work over his 6 year tenure and let’s take a look:

Davis owns a 96-67 (.589) career record and a 46-34 (.575) league ledger. Davis is 17-8 record in the month of March and his 6-3 NCAA Tournament mark.

• Davis is the first coach in Indiana history to begin his tenure with three straight 20-plus win seasons and three straight NCAA Tournament appearance and one NIT appearance.

• Davis has averaged 19.2 wins per season and is four victories shy of winning his 100th game as a head coach at Indiana.

• Under Davis, Indiana has defeated 19 ranked opponents.

• In each of his first two seasons, Davis led the Hoosiers to six victories over ranked opponents. The last time Indiana defeated at least six nationally-ranked opponents was 1992-93.

• Under Davis’ direction, Indiana has defeated four top 4-ranked programs (No. 1 Michigan State and No. 4 Illinois in 2000-01 and No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Oklahoma in 2001-02).

• The Sweet Sixteen win over Duke marked the second-straight year that Indiana had upended the Associated Press’ top-ranked team. The Hoosiers also defeated Michigan State on Jan. 7, 2001.

• Davis’ then-46 career victories are the most-ever by an IU coach in his first two seasons.

His 21 wins were four more than any other first-year IU head coach. His success was not limited to just IU, as his 21 victories ranked him second among first-year head coaches in the country in 2000-01.

Davis, selected as the National Coach of the Year by The Charlotte Observer, was one of just 14 of a total of 319 men’s basketball coaches that season who guided a team that did not include a single senior. His team was the highest ranked seniorless team according to the RPI and just one of two to make the NCAA Tournament. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Hoosiers.

Isnt this a resume of someone who has accomplished more in such a short span an someone in his first Division I job? I mean, not everyone is named Krzyzewski, Calhoun, Knight or Smith(Dean Smith) all of who have one 2 or more National Championships. His name isn’t even Boeheim, Williams(Gary Williams), Williams(Roy Williams) or Smith(Tubby Smith) all of who have at least 1 National Championship. He is Mike Davis, A man following a legend at a University that has never been exposed to the teaching and coaching of african americans on their men’s basketball coach.

Who is to blame for this ugly divorce, this parting of the ways, start at the top.The University. Conventional wisdom tells most Athletic Directors especially in Division I sports to hire someone with Division I experience. Mike Davis didnt have any. To hire a coach with head college basketball experience. Mike Davis didnt have any. To hire a coach with any kind of head coaching experience to examine and determine if he or she is qualified to be the coach especially at a school with such rich winning tradition. Mike Davis had coached only in the CBA.

Now Mr Davis doesn’t escape without the burden of blame too. Openly telling people he would love to be a coach in the NBA, telling the media that he may not be the right person for the job and also announcing to the world that maybe IU needs an “Indiana Man”, a guy who played or coached there. Not exactly the kind of rhetoric one needs to express when the “HOOSIER NATION” is calling for your dismissal.

So as you can see their is plenty of blamed to go around and when their is blame, someone must take the fall. That person is Mike Davis. A man who seemingly had the talent and ability to do a great job at the University of Indiana and in the process building a resume that most would be very proud of and that most would use to spring board into the next “Super Coaching” job or a prelue to becoming the next hot coach. But Mike Davis is left as the villian of “HOOSIER LAND” instead of being a victim of some too much success too fast circumstances leading to his resignation and to his demise.

But what is really taking the fall in this case? A marriage gone bad between and upstart unexperienced head coach who takes over a program and doesnt really receive the support and welcome from the Indiana University brass, faculty,alumni and fans leaving the coach to wonder what went wrong and if his talent and coaching ability will ever be showcased at another institution or organization? Most would say ABSOLUTELY Mike Davis took the fall! Not in Mike Davis’ case. You see one man’s fall could be the same man’s relief and Mike Davis is releived. Relieved to be the ex-coach of the Indiana Hoosiers because he felt it’s a no win situation for a african american head coach that is also not of the Hoosier Family and believe me the relief started when he said he was resigning but the stress began after he loss that one game in that one NCAA Final in 2002 against the University of Maryland only to lose 64-52 after that incredible and improbable run one night in March during March Madness.