Following the legend (or coaching IU soccer)

It never works out when you’re the guy following THE GUY.

Just ask Gene Bartow, Ray Perkins or Bill Guthridge. Heck, even ask Mike Davis.

And the freshest name to add to the list: Mike Freitag.

Freitag was told Tuesday his contract would not be renewed as the Indiana soccer coach after a season that ended with a school-record 10 losses, and in so-doing extended the number of years without a trip to the College Cup to five.

The successor to college soccer’s all-time winningest coach, Jerry Yeagley, Freitag had to know this was a possibility from the time he took the job as Yeagley’s hand-picked successor six years ago. When you follow a legend, anything short of matching the previous level of success is a failure.

Freitag won the 2004 national championship in his first year, but not unlike Davis’ 2002 run to the championship game, the critics said he did it with his predecessors’ players. And like Davis, he was unable to put together another comparable season.

Now we can debate the departure of Freitag as fair or unfair based on a number of mitigating factors. But the bottom line is results, something that even he was disappointed in.

After last season, Freitag admitted to me that his team did not accomplish any of its goals: winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament, reaching the College Cup. I’m sure he’d say the same this year.

And when you’re following a guy who had one bad year out of 30, the rope you’re given to hang yourself is only so long.

25 comments

  1. True ’nuff, Jeremy. Well said. I think Glass made the right move, but I’m sorry it didn’t work out for Mike Freitag.

    Freitag was a good guy, and I will always remember that he was the guy that convinced Yeagley to go to a zone defense and 3-5-2 line-up to open up the offense back in 1994. It allowed IU to shift to a more jogo bonito-style game that helped to entice the big three (Dema, Yuri, and Alexsei) to join the program.

    Strange then, that a faltering offense is what doomed him in the end. Good luck to you, Mike, and thanks for your years of service.

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