(If a picture tells 1,000 words, then what is Marco Killingsworth saying in that one?)
Eighty minutes of basketball now separates Indiana basketball from the end of a decade that's included five head coaches, a Final Four appearance and the university's first NCAA violations in a half century.
The Hoosiers came within 12 points of the 2002 national title, but they haven't been to the Sweet 16 since then. And who new interns and phone bills would replace free throws and banners as the foremost thoughts in fans' minds?
So how does Hoosier nation reconcile a decade that's made about as much sense as the words of "Auld Lang Syne"? There's certainly no easy way to answer that question.
Remember when Mike Davis' job status was the biggest hot-button issue fans cared about? Yea, me neither.
There have been moments triumphant, like that run to Atlanta in 2002, defeating No. 2 Wisconsin in 2007 and the hiring of Tom Crean. But it's surely fair to say the disappointing outweighed the exciting between 2000 and 2009.
But say this: 2000s Indiana basketball was never boring. It wasn't always rosey, but dull moments were in short supply for those whose basketball world centers in Bloomington, Ind.
Between Knight's departure—which is more bad than good, whichever side you fall on—Davis' shortcomings or Kelvin Sampson's non-existent caller ID, the aughts (why are they called that?) never stopped happening, not even for a moment.
And it was full of stories, too. I was on the desk that sleepy Sunday morning when a press release came across the e-mail that would send us all spinning down into an abyss of FOIAed documents and legal analysis. I still get nauseous when I hear the words "Ice Miller Report."
No, not all these memories will be good ones for those who adore the cream and crimson. But when you consider what a strange trip it's been, it's at least a little bit impressive where the Hoosiers are right now.
More than anything though, it's just baffling to try and wrap the mind around how many different paths the program has traveled in the last 10 years. Seriously, Dynasty didn't have this many plotlines, even if more people got slapped .
So you wanted national titles, like Syracuse and Kansas. I say boring.
Another tension-filled Final Four run? Only George Mason actually excited anyone enough to stay on their couch between Al Gore's last presidential campaign and right now to honestly grip the American public. I actually fell asleep during last year's title game.
And now, when Kentucky fans talk about coming back from the brink, you can tell them that they don't even know where the brink can be found. And then you can recommend that they hire Kelvin Sampson.
So when you're counting your blessings this Christmas, IU fans, or channeling New Year's resolutions toward Maurice Creek or Devan Dumes, consider that this decade, while trying, is nothing if not unforgettable. And hey, things can only get better from here. Probably.
Hey, I should surely get some credit for the Marco Killingsworth picture. He dunked at least twice.
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