The state of Indiana football


Here are three questions from our Thursday chat that I held back from answering:

Fancy meeting you here. I am somewhat confident (optimistic?) that the football team will be better. I am also (sadly) somewhat confident that we won’t win more than 3 or 4. Obviously he’s done a fantastic job recruiting the last couple seasons, but do you think he’ll get a chance to coach them? Where is the line drawn between seeing progress and wins/losses? From your favorite, I like soup!, Bloomington

Chris, It’s getting close to that time of year where you’re asked to cover Indiana University Football with diligence and vigor. How difficult is the task at hand? Please accept my apologies in advance for putting you on the hot seat today but gut checks can prove to be beneficial. And quite frankly Indiana University hasn’t seemed willing to gut check on the reality of the programs failures. I think the fans deserve a serious gut check from the university in terms of the football program. Year in year out it’s the same ol song and dance. Regards, j a c k PS, I can smell the smoke pouring out ChronicHoosier’s ears in South Texas! ! j a c k, San Antonio

I always hold out hope,but if we go through another 3 win season,how do you think that will bode for Bill Lynch’s future here? T.McGuire, Bloomington

Though you haven’t read it on the blog or in the paper, Indiana football has weighed heavily on my mind recently. As the season draws near I keep thinking about how different the atmosphere will be with that new building in the north end zone. Yet I think it’s clear that no matter how different the feeling, the facts will remain the same: Indiana’s football program is mired in an epic slump.

I’m working on finding out some of the reasons why that might be. And even how it might change. But if only one coach (Bo McMillin) has had a winning record since 1947, I don’t think my quest for figuring this out will be a short one.

Then again, maybe the answers are obvious. Maybe it’s as simple as Indiana not having any tradition and thereby not being able to find success. Maybe the recruiting base in insufficient in the state. Maybe the support hasn’t been there from the administration.

So that’s the discussion for today. As j a c k would say, it’s gut check time. Answer the above questions and diagnose what ails the football-playing Hoosiers. Why is it this way and how can it be fixed?

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65 comments:

  • Martin says:

    Progress is a season with 5-6 wins. The task will be very difficult for the main reason we still have Lynch as coach. I like the QB situation for one reason, he won’t be a distraction like Lewis has been with his suspensions and internal issues. Lynch is still here because he comes cheap and is currently helping to offset losses created in other areas of the athletic department such as paying former coaches, ADs etc. Once the financial ship is righted fully, Lynch will be gone. Nothing short of a winning record will save him. I think Glass will go after a decent coach and sell them on IU and the new facilities. Won’t be a top notch coach, but a solid one with winning ways. My guess is no more than 4 wins this season. Glass fires Lynch afte we average 30,000 per game which will be distorted due to PU and OSU coming to town filling the stadium with their fans.

  • GFDave says:

    IU football has a culture of losing. The fans won’t come to games and expect failure. Upper tier HS recruits won’t come because they want to win. Up until this last year the administration wouldn’t put money into the program and facilities. The coaches we hire are rarely given time to achieve even modest success. Up and coming coaches won’t come for all the reasons above.

    The only way I see to break the culture is through the hiring of a hugely driven coach with a bigger than life personality who WANTS to be at IU. We had that guy. Can we find someone like that again?

  • Jay says:

    At 8:23 during last night’s chat, Alex asked, are there sports at IU other than basketball? Alex probably was being glib. Unfortunately it is the pervasive attitude. IU athletics need football.
    Are Lynch and his staff the answer, I certainly don’t know. There have been some pretty good coaches at IU; Pont, Mallory, even Corso. There have been some mistakes along the way. Mistakes happen all the time. My point is that not all of the head coaches that IU has hired were no good, or suddenly forgot how to recruit and coach.
    Glass had better be strong and a man of his convictions. I know it gets old but this is a five year project, at least. Whether it is Lynch or someone else, the recruiting budget has to be increased and pay the coaches better. That means the football profit and loss will be red (deeper red) for a few years. It just might lead to a stadium that close to capacity, a few bowl games and perhaps a Big Ten chapionship every so often.
    You pay for what you get!

  • Mike P. says:

    Indiana High School Football programs turned out 41 BCS recruits this year. Of those 41, IU got 9 of them, or about 22%.

    Problem is the 9 in-state kids IU didn’t get. Four of them went to Cincinnati, two of them to Kentucky, two of them to Notre Dame and one to Oklahoma State.

    These are still the kids IU has to keep home. Especially kids like the two who went to Kentucky (Dakota Tyler and Morgan Newton (Mr. Football)).

    While the recruiting classes are getting better, we still don’t get the top tier from our own state.

  • Mike P. says:

    Just an FYI, I don’t include preferred walk-on status as being a BCS recruit.

  • David says:

    A couple of points I think are worthwhile. The first is the tradition of the program. It simply isn’t that good. What hurts Indiana a lot in regards to this is geography. If you have a very talented kid in the state, you have to contend with Notre Dame which is in Indiana, but Indiana is also bordered by two powerhouse football programs in Michigan & Ohio State. Even Purdue is inhouse with Illinois on our West side. Michigan State really isn’t that far away either. I don’t think it helps either what Brian Kelly is doing at Cincinnati.

    I’m not comparing IU football to USC but think of the geographic differences. If a kid wants to stay home from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, over the 7-8 years, USC has been the only choice. Washington football is in the tank, Arizona football has been bad. It’s starting to be a little different with Neuheisal at UCLA and Erickson at Arizona State and Stoops at Arizona, but for the most part USC has had at least a thrid of the country all to themselves combined also with a very dynamic coach and storied football tradition.

    The tradition ties into the geography I think. Indiana as a state doesn’t produce like Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, or California. Plus those states aren’t close to Indiana so the Hoosiers can’t really dip into that base of talent without competing with the USC, Florida, Miami-FL, Florida State, Georgia, Texas & Oklahomas of the world which will certainly end badly for Indiana.

    That doesn’t provide any solutions I know, but essentially IU football doesn’t play in a hot bed state of high school talent on top of not having any real football tradition on top of being in close proximity of 3 titans of college football in Ohio State, Michigan & Notre Dame. That isn’t a recipe for success it would seem.

    I think losing Hoeppner was significant blow but to me the real issue here is getting a coach that can revitalize and revolutionize the program. The North Carolina job wasn’t roses when Butch Davis took over. Illinois was down when Ron Zook took over. Urban Meyer went from Bowling Green to Utah. Brian Kelly took over Cincinnati. Even Mack Brown started at North Carolina.

    There lies the problem. Indiana has to figure a way out to identify and be able to hire the next Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly, Ron Zook, or Butch Davis a guy looking to rebound at a stepping stone program.

    In my mind if Lynch isn’t the right coach a couple of guys who meet that criteria are Butch Jones at Central Michigan and Tommy Tuberville, fomerly at Auburn. If Indiana makes a coaching change and plucks one of those guys we can have faith the administration might be catching on. If they don’t then IU football doesn’t have much of a chance it would seem.

  • J Pat says:

    Here is the formula in short:

    Big name coach = Big name recruits = WINNING

    this will produce bodies in seats and bowl games!

    To do this, IU must splash with the next hire!

    I did the math a few months back. Going with a cheap coach has cost IU money in the long run. If you take what IU has paid coaches over the last 15 years and compare the difference to other well paid coaches and do the math on selling out memorial every game at 35 bucks a seat for 15 years vs putting 25,000 in per game…it only makes sense for IU to pay a coach well. IU is losing money by going cheap and I do not understand why someone at IU has not discovered this. Maybe Glass will do it!

  • J Pat says:

    oh, and please do not argue Hep because he was a needle in a haystack with his enthusiasm, that is rare! As much as I adored him, I did not see IU in a rose bowl while he was here.

  • GFDave says:

    J Pat,

    I will argue that Hep was a guy that could have turned this thing around. Sorry to disagree with you on that one, but I do. He had energy, passion, recruiting ability, technical skill and wanted to be at IU. He was the best we’ve had in my life time. Better than Pont, Corso, and Mallory IMHO.

    Also, please attach a name to the “Big Name Coach” requirement. I’m always hearing this argument and, while I’m all for it, I can never come up with a guy that fits the bill and wants to be at IU. Names, please.

  • peegs_anti_reverse_pick_pocket says:

    Bring TRENT GREEN TO IU. Chances are, he would be much better than Lynch, and at least give us hope. The kids would want to come here for Trents experience at IU and more importantly, the NFL.

  • eric says:

    I may get laughed off the board on this, but I’ll post it anyway.

    I live in Nashville, and a local talk radio show had Philip Fulmer on this morning. He said he’s keeping the door open to coach again. He’s a good guy and in the 17 years he was coach UT was never on probation. And needless to say, he’d be the only coach IU has ever had who could wear a national championsip ring on recruiting visits. He’s about 58 so he might not be a long-term solution, but if IU could get Phil Fulmer for even a few years, I’d take him in a nanosecond.

  • peegs_anti_reverse_pick_pocket says:

    That would be great, but Fulmer would also need at least 2 million a year to take on the IU job.

  • Change IU needs says:

    Fulmer would be worth the money. Especially if he stuck around long enough to bring down Peyton Manning, his former player, to maybe help out the program in some way.

    A big name coach and recruiter is the way to go.

  • Walt says:

    David makes a very good point. IU is not only in a market dominated by Notre Dame, Purdue and Ohio State and Michigan, but we are also located in one of the smallest population states. Do you think OSU would have the tradition they have if Ohio was half the size and they had two other BCS schools in the state? Now you must also consider that in the state of Indiana a greater percentage of the best athletes play basketball rather than football which gives you even less population to draw from.

    Now you add to that the fact that no one (even Mallory) has been able to pull IU out of this hole and sustain us there and you have a history of terrible football tradition.

    How can anyone change that? I certainly do not have a magic potion for it, but you can bet that it will be a long term project for someone that is very smart. The worst possible thing IU can do is to continue to change ADs and coaches on a regular basis. I’m not, by any means convinced that Lynch is the guy to do this job. I’m not entirely convinced there is a person out there that can do this job. But every time we get impatient and pull the plug on someone that is trying, we dig the hole we are in a lot deeper!

  • Bettor says:

    There is absolutely no excuse for Indiana to ever lose to Ball State, Central Michigan, or Southern Illinois. Lynch was the head coach for all 3 of those losses. Those teams have significantly worse schools, facilities, recruiting classes, fan support, etc.

    Indiana should beat Eastern Kentucky. They should beat Akron. They should beat Western Michigan. Those aren’t the games we should judge our coaching staff in. It’s the next tier of games.

    At Virginia
    At Michigan
    At Northwestern
    Purdue

    Lynch needs to win 5 games to have any shot at keeping his job. I don’t see it happening – he’s a terrible coach. The second half performances of his teams are abysmal. He makes no adjustments.

    He is the least innovative mind ever. Every play on defense is a Cover-4, where our line gets no pressure and MAC caliber quarterbacks have a field day. Brunner and Hoyer (neither QBs were any good) commented on how vanilla our defense was, how easy we were to predict and beat.

    We can’t stop the run, we can’t run the football, and if you don’t do that you don’t win games. The lines open up no holes. The defensive line gets pushed around.

    Any team who commits to the run can get 150+ yards on us. Wisconsin does nothing but run on us and beats us by 30+ every year. Because our brilliant coaching staff thinks the answer to stopping the run is Cover 4!

    Where are the clowns who told me I was crazy for saying Middleton isn’t that good and he only got his numbers against terrible competition?

    I expect this team to not win a game past September. It’s not the fans fault. Fan support and winning go hand in hand. It’s 100% on the coaches. This is THEIR team with THEIR kids, and they aren’t even close to competitive. We give them 5 years, time to recruit an entire roster with their kids for their system. We give them multi million dollar renovations, new facilities, and keep the staff in place. And what we get back is a non-competitive team who gets blown out by Ball State.

    It WILL be a long season, but we’ve got to have a year like this because in the long run we’re going to be better off without this staff. We’re trying to compete taking the prospects that no one wants, and that’s not how you win in college football. I think our staff is intimidated by Ohio State, that could be a VERY ugly game, especially with their fans that will most assuredly outnumber our fans.

  • HoosEyes says:

    The problem with chasing after the “big names” is most of them have proved themselves capable and want to win, not rebuild programs… Talk about a catch-22. Many (all?) upper tier recruits want to play for a coach that will win, and many coaches want to go to a place with the tradition and history of winning… If you don’t have one, you probably don’t have either. Instead, I feel that if a coaching change is to be made, IU needs to do whatever it takes to sign a young, rising coach from a mid-major type school.

    From my viewpoint, Lynch’s coaching and relationship with the fan base is uninspiring… I don’t feel he can put people in the stands without winning, and I don’t have confidence in his ability to produce a winning team.

    For what its worth, I would love to see IU make a serious play for Turner Gill from Buffalo if they decide to make a change. When he took over Buffalo (2006), they were on notice for low attendance, meaning if the attendance didn’t go up, Buffalo would risk losing its FBS status. Gill only won 2 games that year, but still managed to fill the seats for at least one game- Buffalo’s all time attendance record was set in a game against Temple that year… Buffalo is now averaging about 18,000 per game, and oh yeah, they crushed Ball State in the MAC Championship game and went to the International Bowl (which they did lose). He did sign an extension with Buffalo that made him one of the highest paid coaches in the MAC, but he also was a candidate for jobs at Syracuse, Auburn, and Nebraska. I do believe that the chance to play Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, etc. year in and year out makes any Big 10 job attractive, and I think Hep proved that the Bloomington and IU community can be at least open to the idea of supporting a football program with promise…

  • J Pat says:

    GFDave, there is nobody that loved Hep more than me and I do think he could have gotten us to mid-tier and a little higher bowls, but you need a little stronger supporting cast coaching and recruiting to get to the big games.

    As far as names go, I was a working student at IU on campus while attending IU in the mid 90’s. I want to think I was a little more connected than some within athletics and I remember interest from Gruden. Maybe it was the Knight ties he had and maybe now that Knight is gone, he would not look at IU. I bet if IU called him and waved 1.2-1.5 at him, he would consider. I know for 100% fact that Art Shell(sp) called IU and inquired several years back. Why not Trent Green, no coaching expereince but a big name that could bring a great cast in to coach and recruit. I will throw Harbaugh out there with the Crean tie in. Fulmer is pissed and has something to prove, throw 2 mill at him as eric above says and he would walk campus and think about it over a beer at Nick’s. There are Bowden’s available. I do not buy the location crap. People say that if a guy has been in the south and coached there he would not come here. Bogus, money talks!!! Cuban should finally put up or shut up and help on this one and quit buying sorority girls shots at Kilroy’s. So there you go GFDave.

  • J Pat says:

    Bettor, I agree with you mostly for once but I think Middleton is good, he just got lazy last year for whatever reason. I did break down a game from the previous season and he was doubled many times and teams sent a back at him quite often.

  • Jimmy says:

    LOL at someone actually suggesting Trent Green for head coach.

    All I know is, I really hope Lynch and the players do well. I’m tired of coaching changes.

  • GFDave says:

    J Pat,

    Good list of names, but:

    –Gruden is going to hold out for ND job
    –Art Shell, are you serious? lol
    –I like the Green idea, but after he has been a college coordinator and recruiter. Does he want to coach?
    –Harbaugh ain’t leaving Stanford for IU, no, no, no. Nobody would.
    –Fulmer is a good coach and recruiter. Intriguing possibility. Age is a negative factor.

    So there you are. In my mind, you didn’t solve the problem, but nice try.

    HoosEyes is much closer with the Turner Gill idea.

  • Steve D. says:

    for all the “BIG NAME Coaches” argument…

    AN ADMINISTRATION WILLING TO SPEND THE MONEY TO HIRE AND MAINTAIN A “BIG NAME” COACH…

    Sorry guys, we always dream about it…The only way a BIG NAME or a name we hear of is a coach with baggage that needs to reinstate his reputation.

    You will only get a guy who is a hot coordinator or (MAYBE)a Division II coach.

    How about….A FANBASE WITHOUT A QUICK TRIGGER??

    HOW ABOUT A MORE THAN APATHETIC FANBASE…

    A FANBASE MORE INTERESTED IN THE GAME THAN TAILGAITING???

  • J Pat says:

    GFDave, sorry you do not like the list but I feel it is reasonable because if I am a stud 17/18 year old recruit and I see a guy named Turner Gill coming from Buffalo I am cracking up thinking, who the hell is this guy? Trust me, I work with kids that age every day for the past 10 years.

  • J Pat says:

    GFDave, I cannot solve the problem. It is up to IU in the end. I have sent my ticket money for 13 years now and I can count the games I have missed on one hand. The name that makes a splash will attract recruits, bottom line. Whether Gruden holds out for ND or not or anyone on my list, if you wave the money they will come. History shows IU will not do that but I can wish.

  • Jay says:

    There are many good and deserving coaches out there. Turner Gill is definitely one. How long has Tressel been the coach at OSU? I think longer than Dinardo, Hoeppner and Lynch, combined.
    My point? IU should not go after, Fullmer, Gruden, or Harbaugh. Sports Illustrated had an article in March or April listing coaches worth watching. They were from non-BCS conferences but where did Meyer, Saban and others come from? None, came from a BCS school!
    Finally

  • Jay says:

    There are many good and deserving coaches out there. Turner Gill is definitely one. How long has Tressel been the coach at OSU? I think longer than Dinardo, Hoeppner and Lynch, combined.
    My point? IU should not go after, Fullmer, Gruden, or Harbaugh. Sports Illustrated had an article in March or April listing coaches worth watching. They were from non-BCS conferences but where did Meyer, Saban and others come from? None, came directly from a BCS school!

    Finally

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