I don’t want this blog to turn into a forum for my thoughts, opinions, prayers, hopes, dreams, etc. regarding IU basketball, but I also don’t want to impose any constraints on it. I want the words to flow in whatever direction suits them. And I can’t just say nothing about Mike Davis.
It reminds me of when I tried to write a play. I like plays, and I watch them with what I consider to be more than the average amount of intellectual conviction. I consider them through an intellectual lens. I read plays even more critically because I am a writer. But I got over-confident in my abilities. I thought that if I like plays and I like to write, I may like to write a play. No, it was actually less incidental than that. I thought I was freakin’ Neil Simon.
I called the play “Norah and Jason’s Expertly Planned But Poorly Executed Divorce.” Then I wrote the first act with little trouble. It’s actually quite amusing. (This would be the 2002 national championship appearance.)
Then I tried to write the second act.
The characters needed more developing, but I was fresh out of development. The plot needed to move forward, and although I knew (and still know, for this adventure is not over; I have not resigned) where it was going, I didn’t know how to get it there in play form.
I can’t figure out why the first act went so much better than the subsequent acts. Everyone—no one more than Mike Davis, I bet—is trying to figure out why there was magic in his first three seasons and why these last three have just fallen apart. The answer is probably a combination of factors, and what would knowing it get us, anyway? What if it can’t be replicated? What if there will never be another Tom Coverdale? Then what are we left with but the knowledge that IU basketball greatness is not a guarantee? Who wants to know that for sure?
I am dangerously close to writing the Carrie Bradshaw response to Mike Davis’ resignation.
The major dissimilarity between my play experience and Davis’ head coaching experience is that I was able to keep my failure quiet. Sure, I wrote the first act and showed it to some people, but these people are not like IU basketball fans. They haven’t wondered yet where the second act is. Poor Mike Davis (and my pity is genuine) had to stumble and fall in front of a nation (at least a state) full of people expecting him to do just that. Of course, I didn’t anticipate his failure, but the people like me weren’t the people he could hear.
So, yeah, I feel sorry for him and I have for a long time. I don’t know why his critics couldn’t distinguish between Mike Davis and Myles Brand because it was the latter who fired Bobby Knight. I understood this and I was only 19 and not yet even really an IU basketball fan. The other thing these people fail to consider is that Bobby Knight hired Mike Davis. He’s not anti-Bobby Knight.
I am a person who likes IU basketball, and I choose to look at Davis’ graceful exit as an opportunity for the program to regain its prestige. IU basketball is supposed to be a powerhouse; it’s at least supposed to be competitive.
We’re very serious about our basketball in Indiana, and we want our coaches to be tough. Mike Davis wasn’t tough enough and that’s not an insult. He had an emotional reaction to coaching that kept him disconnected from the diehard fans who can’t see beyond the W column.
I’m not surprised that he’s leaving. I am pleasantly surprised that he had the foresight and the humility to see the inevitable conclusion and bowed out with graciousness. I don’t know that it had to be inevitable, but it was nevertheless. There was a tremendous amount of pressure on Mike Davis from the very beginning. He handled it better at some times than at others. I don’t know who the other candidates for the job were when Knight got fired, but I do know that it was necessary to make a change and that Mike Davis was there. He stepped up when the team needed him, and I will remember the good times more vividly than the bad because that is my nature. Maybe I’m not a playwright and Mike Davis isn’t an IU basketball coach. But we tried and our hearts were in the right place.