james Patton said when he took the job as Indiana’s assistant defensive line coach and special teams and recruiting coordinator that he felt a buzz around the program. He felt even more strongly about that, he said, when he got on campus this week.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Patton said. “Got in late last night, yesterday evening and had an early morning workout this morning. It was great just getting adjusted. I felt it when I was up here for signing day, of course with my relationship with Kevin, I felt a buzz going on around here with the coaches and the recruiting aspect of it. I felt it this morning in the workout. The players were juiced up and energized. It’s a good feeling.”
Of course, football in Oklahoma always has a buzz and an energy, so it was surprising on some level that Patton left it. He joked about leaving Northwestern and Oklahoma each after seven years, which he said might denote a “seven-year itch,” but said the real reason was his desire not only to coach with Wilson — with whom he worked for 14 years as a player and coach, but also several members of the staff. He worked with quarterbacks coach Kevin Johns at Northwestern, had ties with offensive coordinator Seth Littrell and cornerbacks coach Brandon Shelby and was recruited by Doug Mallory’s brother Mike. Mike Mallory wanted Patton to come to Kent State and he ended up at Miami (Ohio), but all the same, Patton said he developed a respect for the Mallory family.
Plus, Patton is from Ohio, his wife is from Fort Wayne, and he was simply hoping to get back to this part of the country.
“It’s just a chance to get back in this Big Ten environment,” Patton said. “… Professionally, I think it’s a great situation. Being an offensive coach with my background, getting a chance to coach on defense, assisting coach (Jon) Fabris with the defensive line, coach (Mike) Ekeler, Coach Shelby and Coach Mallory, giving them an offensive perspective on schemes, protections, whatever it is, and applying it to defense.”