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?


  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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

    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.

  16. 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…

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. for all the “BIG NAME Coaches” argument…


    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.




  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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!


  26. Jay, nice points but I want to win NOW!!! I am sick of walking back to my car defeated and deflated! I want a quick fix and paying a high profile well known coach should do that!

  27. Man, it sure is great to see all this passion about Hoosier football. See Korman??? Enough with the High School basketball already…
    In my opinion, hiring a coach like Fulmer or Harbaugh would bring instant credibility, instant recruits, and good press. Thats what IU needs. Something to get us in the press and the national spotlight. Kids need to see with their own eyes IU is committed to improving this program. Hiring a known name (and paying them) will instantly improve the entire program..

  28. Since we are talking names, I will throw out my top 5:

    1. Todd Graham
    2. Tommy Tuberville
    3. Turner Gill
    4. Jon Gruden
    5. Phillip Fulmer

  29. someone up above mentioned butch jones at central michigan. brian kelly came out of there and has done well at cincy. before that kelly and jones were at grand valley and then moved up to central. that is a pipeline worth keeping an eye on, good div 2 and then mac coaches who want to move up and would take the iu job. it is too late to get brian kelly; he was supposedly going to tennessee before lane kiffin highjacked that job. as a result, phil fullmer is now one mad ex-coach and available but he is not the answer. he is too old and probably tired, like gerry dinardo was. bill mallory was the answer; terry hoeppner was the answer. maybe butch jones is the answer.

  30. Though Fulmer is no Joe Pa. Age might not be the best excuse for not going after Fulmer. Too costly, washed up or just flat-out wouldn’t be interested in IU are better reasons.

    Either way, it’s clear most people don’t support the current coach. If Glass decides to replace him after this season I think Fulmer should be one of the coaches explored, along with others mentioned above.

  31. J Pat,

    Several things:

    –Turner Gill is the youngest guy on your list. If the kids don’t know him, they don’t know anybody.

    –If your solution is so obvious, why hasn’t the IU administration implemented it? How can it be that we’ve had so many stupid Presidents and ADs? It seems that by shear luck one of them would have stumbled across your idea. Maybe there is something more to it.

    –Respectfully, and I do like your comments and perspective. I know you care about IU. Please refrain from giving us your resume with every post. Its getting old. Thanks.

  32. What current coaches might be available after this season? Charlie Weiss at ND, Rich Rod at Michigan, NIck Saban at Bama, let’s throw those guys in for consideration too.

  33. GFDave, I enjoy everything you have written in the past and you blew me away tonight with that last comment. I do not understand the resume thing you speak of and I apologize for anything I have said that offended you. I am a proud fan of IU football. Forgot how hurtful comments can be. I must have come off wrong, easy to do on a blog. Again, I am truly sorry and surprised by your comment.

    The IU admin has not paid a big name because their emphasis is on basketball and from time to time they have had money problems.

    Mike P, I forgot about Tuberville…I would love him.

    Again, sorry to anyone I offended…I am just looking forward to football season at IU. Last year was the biggest letdown for me since Randle El’s senior year, before that I do not remember!

  34. Dave,

    Given Weiss’ record at ND, would you seriously even consider him?

    Rich Rod is not out of Michigan this year, but the possibility could still be there, so you could add him to the list of coaches to call.

    Bama was 12-2 last year. Why on earth would you think Saban would be out down there? Other than the fact he has 0 loyalty to anyone but his wallet.

  35. I live close enough to UT that the daily doings of the Volunteers are in the local paper. While they haven’t been put on probation hardly a day passes when they don’t have a player on the police blotter. Fulmer recruited some serious thugs and he knew it. While it flew in Knoxville it wouldn’t work out so well in Bloomington.
    North Carolina does provide a good example, though. They were a sorry program when they brought in Mack Brown and he led them to 10 win seasons. They again fell on hard times so they brought in Butch Davis who has quickly turned thing around.

  36. guys like charlie weiss and richrod go for two mill per year now. charlie won’t make it at ND but look for richrod to make it at UM in the next two years. he’ll get em to a bowl this year and higher next year.

    with phil fulmer it’s a case of ya gotta know the territory; he ain’t from the midwest (why brady hoke may not make it out west). a midwestern coach with ties to recruiting in ohio is a must. that’s why the mac is such a good pipeline; most mac schools are in ohio or the other mac coaches recruit there already, plus their own states.

    brady hoke would have been a good catch but he got too big for iu. what iu needs is a young buckaroo and up and comer who they can get cheaper, maybe one mill per year, a guy whose name we haven’t even mentioned yet; he is the answer, i would think.

    bill lynch is a good guy and all, but we’ve been talking about him here, or not even mentioning him, as if he’s dead meat and it’s a done deal. look for 4-8, 5-7, maybe 6-6 if they get lucky from iu this coming season. the latter gets iu to a bowl and buys lynch another year, maybe.

    AD glass is gonna have a tough call to make if things stay the same. lynch is not a crook or a jerk, he’s a good guy, but he ain’t winning or improving the program. young dynamic, charismatic coaches attract great players. and great players are the bottom line.

    northwestern turned it around with gary barnett and then randy walker and pat fitzgerald. if they can do it, iu can do it, i would think. kansas state and texas tech, also traditionally nonfootball schools, did too.

    it’s a matter of having the will and an open mind and checkbook and getting lucky with a few recruits who are better than expected, like iu did with the ’67 bunch and the ’87 bunch.

  37. I think we’re getting a great look at the right way to rebuild a program, specifically in how Tom Crean has conducted himself since arriving in Bloomington a little over a year ago. Granted, the differences in tradition and history between our basketball and football programs are vast, and the necessity for reconstruction within the programs have very different origins, but I think there are some lessons to be learned.

    Since arriving, Crean has done much more than simply try to buff up recruiting classes or blow smoke about how the team looks better each day. Rather, it seems that his greatest priorities have been to restore the prestige of IU and to establish and promote the IU brand. He’s done a better job of overhauling the promotion of his team and school than anyone I’ve seen. He signs autographs, appears on every possible show he can, speaks to students, interacts with fans after games and even utilizes twitter.

    Crean realizes that the when a program’s performance is down, the only thing fans can cling to is an inspired coach — the personification of hope for a struggling team. If the program sucks, but the coach seems to be steering the program in a good direction, fans have an easier time weathering the storm — even easier when they feel they have a more personal relationship with the coach.

    I think most people (either admittedly or subconsciously) have a problem with Lynch because he’s just not that great of a salesman. And it’s not to say that he has no concern for IU athletics or its fans, or no competence, but his personality doesn’t match what many IU fans are looking for right now — especially in the wake of Hep. And once again, Lynch’s even keeled approach seems stale, impersonal and boring when placed next to Crean’s “grab the bull by the horns” mentality.

    If Lynch really wants to keep his job, and really wants to see people in the stands, I think he may need to step outside of his comfort zone a bit and take a cue from his counterpart. He needs to get out as much as possible, tow the company line, appear at events he normally wouldn’t. It may not be his style, but I feel it’s what the fans are expecting out of the coach that will lead the football team out of turmoil. They’re going to expect someone with so much enthusiasm and optimism that it borders on annoying and psychotic. Lynch might want to ramp up the intensity a bit — even if he has to fake it — until the team starts turning around. Otherwise, I feel that the general discontent with Lynch will grow, and the football team will continue to be mired in this ultra-slump.

  38. First, I think Lynch is a good football coach, but…. Casey is right, we need a guy more like Crean (or Hep) – 1/2 coach, 1/2 salesman. Lynch is just as qualified to coach as Hep was, but he can’t win with the second (or third) tier players that come to IU – because of the “tradition.” We need someone who with charisma who can make the fan base and recruits think that the impossible can happen – that IU can develop into a good football program. And whatever his solid football credentials are, Lynch just doesn’t have that “miracle worker – faith healer” vibe that this train wreck of a job requires.

  39. There are many recent examples of awful programs turning it around ie Kansas St was THE worst program in college 20yrs ago but managed to get to a couple of BCS Bowls. There are lots of other examples (Buffalo, Rutgers, etc) and yes, they usually play in 2nd/3rd tier conferences. But what about Northwestern? They have NO advantages over IU and have been respectable for most of the last 10-12yrs?
    It takes the right coach and patience/support from the administration. I’m doubtful Lynch is the guy, but when/if the right guy is hired it’s not going to be a 2-3 yr turn around more like 5-6yrs of progress. It’s just the way it is.

  40. Casey, good points. However, Crean has the luxury of appearing at high profile events, because he is Crean. He is a celebrity coach if you will, and events want figures like him to participate. Anyone outside of a couple Big Ten schools would ever know who Lynch is. I don’t think Lynch stepping out of his comfort zone will cut it, he simply doesn’t have the full package to inspire and lead the program out of the perpetual hole it’s been in.

  41. A couple of thoughts on the coaches mentioned.

    Turner Gil: Remember that Gil is using Buffalo as a stepping stone and Indiana is almost the same. Think about what Kirk Herbstreit was saying at the end of last season about the Big 10 in that perception around the country (outside of the Big 10) is that it’s football is closer to the MAC than the SEC. Herbstreit didn’t agree with it, but the perception is out there. Gil was being rumored about to have the Auburn job or possibly the Alabama job before Saban got there. He’s not going from one stepping stone (Buffalo) to another (Indiana). He’s big enough to wait for a bigger job if he wants it and why wouldn’t he?

    Jim Harbaugh: Like Indiana, Stanford is a stepping stone. That’s the key. Remember that Harbaugh got to Stanford talking smack directly about USC and Pete Carroll. He’s not leaving that fishbowl to go into Bloomington to coach arguably the worst football team in the conference. The junk talking to Carroll shows Harbaugh has ambition. That ambition isn’t being fulfilled at IU.

    John Gruden: I don’t see it. I’d love it, but forget it. Gruden coached the Raiders and that craziness to jump to Tampa Bay and win a Super Bowl. How many Super Bowl winning coaches come down to coach at bottom tier Big 10 schools?

    Trent Green: No experience at all. A wild card at best and at worst a guy with IU ties that IU would have to get rid of only to tarnish his legacy a bit. Not in the same boat as Steve Alford coming to IU to coach and completely fail but in the same universe.

    Another point to think about with Tuberville or Fulmer or guys like that. They are older guys who can only be relied upon to make a program decent. They aren’t taking IU to the promised land.

    I think the big issue here is looking at this the way the old Oakland A’s did with market inefficiencies. Indiana has to do that. It’s like a small market baseball team trying to figure a way to compete with the big boys.

    With Indiana and the Big 10, it has to be a small tier coach that is smart, highly ambitious and willing to use Indiana as a springboard to bigger jobs, but knowing those bigger jobs will come if Indiana is good to great while they are there.

    That is the key to me. Right now, it’s baby steps. Indiana has to use the inefficiencies in the market to land an up and coming coach like Urban Meyer who went from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida. Thus in my mind IU has to be looking at coaches from:

    C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt maybe even the Mt. West & WAC with their bottom tiered schools. Guys like this to keep an eye on might be:

    Dave Christensen (Wyoming), DC Rocky Long (formerly of New Mexico), Kevin Sumlin (Houston), David Bailiff (Rice), Derek Dooley (LA Tech), Dewayne Walker (NM State, but formerly the UCLA DC), Butch Jones (C.Michigan).

    Those are just names off the top of my head, but Indiana has to go through phases. At this point they need to be used by young, talented, hungry coaches who want to elevate Indiana to a good program to benefit themselves. After a few years (or 2-3 coaches) like this then Indiana would have built up enough of a winning rep that they could possibly be seen a a final destination.

    The question then begs if the IU administration is smart enough to figure this out and do the due dilligence to find coaches to make this work?

  42. I like Turner Gill and wouldn’t mind IU talking to him, but why does everyone think he is so good he can sit back and wait for an SEC job?

    He has been a head coach for 3 years, 2-10, 5-7, 8-6 in the MAC, granted he did win the MAC Championship last year.

    He interviewed for Auburn and was turned down.

    I definetly see him as an up and coming coach, but to think he has the luxery to turn down a Big Ten job (even if it is rebuilding IU) and wait to name his spot at an SEC school with a career 15-23 record at a MAC school is rediculous.

  43. Dave- I don’t necessarily disagree with your points about Harbaugh and Gill, I think they are valid points… However, I think the draw of playing against big time programs like Ohio St., Michigan, etc. could be a big draw that would make IU more than just a stepping stone (more so for Gill than Harbaugh, since he obviously already is competing with Carroll and USC). IU being in the Big 10 gives us a much higher ceiling than guys like Gill would have at a MAC or smaller conference schools, which in my opinion makes the job at least slightly more attractive… What I don’t want is to continue the train of coaches that are in and out of this program. If we were able to land a Harbaugh or Gill and start contending in Bowl games (and dare I dream of Big 10 championships?), then why wouldn’t they stick around?

    Also, someone threw out Tuberville’s name… I had forgotten about him… Another intriguing option to be sure as far as the big names go.

  44. BTW I agree with Juan Blanco. Sick of reading about basketball, especially high school basketball.

  45. You are all wrong. TO WIN you start with DEFENSE. And for innovation you go WEST. A person you should look at is Bob Gregory (Defense Coordinator)at the University of California. He is at the right stage of his coaching career to grab hold of a program and make something of it. He brings WEST Coast recruiting, outlook, and the will to win. As far as offense I am sure he know a few people who will give IU an offense they will be proud of. You talk of INNOVATION then follow your own advice.

  46. BRozich, no one from California in their right mind would come to Indiana. We’ve tried to recruit CA and TX but kids simply aren’t interested.

    We’re going to get kids who either A) Come to play for a specific coach, or B) Want to play in the Big Ten. Since we don’t have a coach who is a good recruiter like a Mike Locksley, we aren’t going to get anyone in the A category, so right now we take the rejects from the other Big Ten schools.

    Take for example the guy we just signed. Leneil Himes. Unranked prospect from middle of nowhere Indiana. His offer list? Bowling Green (MAC), Central Michigan (MAC), Illinois State (FCS), Toledo (MAC), Western Michigan (MAC).

    These are the kids we need to stop recruiting – the rejects of all the Big Ten schools. How are we going to win the Big Ten, if we’re getting talent worse than the rest of the Big Ten? Look at who we signed after last year started – not one player was even ranked in Rivals. All were no-names: Aaron Price, Damon Sims, Nick Turner, Griffen Dahlstrom, Jordan Marquette. Only ONE of them had an offer from a BCS conference (Sims – WVU). These aren’t Big Ten players.

    To get better, we don’t need a schemer. You don’t win in college football by scheming, unless you run an option (which I have no idea why more teams don’t do). We need a recruiter who can land legitimate talent here. And no, I’m not talking about landing 3 stars. People seem to think last year’s recruiting class that ranked 9th in the conference was a “great” class. You kidding me? We should be celebrating 9th place?

  47. Bettor, you realize that our first 2010 commit (JUCO Andre Kates) had offers from Illinois, Miami FL, Baylor, Maryland, Memphis, Washington State, Clemson, and BYU…and committed to Florida out of high school, right? How is he a reject?

  48. I can tell you right now, Nick Turner and Aaron Price are extremely underrated players.

    Price is still a developing player, and I honestly expect him to be in the rotation by the end of his redshirt freshman year. I’m not positive he will redshirt this year, but I fully expect him too. I’ve watched him grow and develop, and he will be good.

    As for Nick Turner, the kid is a flat out beast. He played in one of the top conferences in the state. His team (Southport) was 1-9 in 2007, Nick didn’t play in 2007. Last season, with Nick running the ball, they won the conference title by going 8-0 in CI and finishing the season 9-2. If this kid would have played in 2007, he would be ranked!

  49. Never said Kates was a reject. Obviously someone with an offer from Miami isn’t a reject. Offers from Memphis, Baylor, and Washington State are nothing to brag about.

    Again, Kates hasn’t signed on the bottom line. We lost Gainer last year. We lost Watkins last year. We lost Finch and Glover the year before. It’s very easy to negative recruit against IU because we are a backup school for so many recruits.

    Maybe they’re underrated. But I can tell you that I’d rather have a highly rated class than a program that relies on “sleepers” and “should be rated higher” type of players like IU has done for decades. The success rate on 5 star and 4 star players with multiple BCS offers is much higher than on unranked players.

  50. Wow. Talk about a loaded question, Korman. “What’s wrong with IU football & how do you fix it?”
    How big is your server?

    All kidding aside, I must admit I’ve been tossing this one around for over a decade now, and have only concluded that the issue is as complex as it is systemic. (I believe David’s response comes closest.)

    Before attempting to codify this decade of dismay into a post, I had to revisit an old read, “An Economic Model of the College Football Recruiting Process”, DuMond, et al. Therein, many of the theories expressed above are empirically disputed and/or supported (at least partially). (for a great interpretation of the study, check out: )

    The gist of it is quite simply: football is not in IU’s culture.

    The long of it involves: talent deficiencies at the player and coaching levels; apathetic administrators, boosters, and fans; geographic liabilities; the paradoxical constraints of academic integrity; and an increasingly hyper-competitive and self-perpetuating recruiting environment. Did I mention “It’s Indiana,” the superlative of “a basketball school?”

    Of these variables, none is as critical to IU’s persistent plight as the player/coach component. For all the ballyhoo about traditions, facilities, recruiting rankings, recent bowl appearances, etc., nothing else directly impacts the outcome of football games besides players making plays and coaches making decisions. Period.

    And while there’s dozens of extrinsic factors which come into play in attracting the quality of players necessary to compete (see: traditions, facilities, rankings, recent success, available P.T., etc.), I firmly believe the coaching component is the most essential element in creating a winning program.

    Coaches form the foundation upon which recruiting relationships are built (i.e. attracting the best available talent), they have the final say in personnel & play-calling decisions, and, most importantly, they establish the culture of the program. The nature of that culture is what propels a program.

    Think of it this way, how few superbly talented teams are able to overcome flawed coaching? (think: Ty Willingham, Greg Robinson, Bill Callahan, Gary Crowton, etc.) Conversely, how many talent-deficient teams excel in achieving upsets because of excellent coaching? (Think: Dan Hawkins, Greg Schiano, Jim Leavitt, Utes!)

    Sure, there’s countless other factors one could point to in attempting to turn IU football around, but, if I were Fred Glass, I’d be focusing my attention squarely on the sidelines in order to affect what’s going up on the scoreboard. Changing the culture of IU football won’t be easy, quick, or cheap, but its long past time IU football experienced a cultural revolution.

  51. I agree, but I am just telling you that rankings don’t mean everything when it comes to a player. Sometimes you must know the back story to some of these kids.

  52. Is better to be the laughing stock of the Big 10 or better to join the MAC? A don’t think a new coach is going to make IU a winner.

  53. Why would we join the MAC because of football?

    Do you realize the amount of lost revenue IU would have by leaving the Big Ten for the MAC?


  54. Chronic, good thoughts and good read. I reread through the posts and I think more than one person has mentioned age and not wanting an older coach. Fulmer is 58 and Tuberville 54. Hep passed at 59. I think older age could be positive so IU is not used as a stepping stone to a bigger job.

    Oh, please do not talk about IU going to the MAC, that is just crazy all around!

  55. Mike P and anyone else, does Lynch make it through the entire season as coach? What is your take? I see a couple scenarios.

  56. Good thoughts here. Here is my devil’s advocate argument about the Big 10 and kids thinking about wanting to come to Indiana to compete against top level teams like Ohio State & Michigan.

    The problem is that those teams lately have been getting WAXED in the bowl games. So why go to bottom feeding Indiana in the Big 10 to compete against Ohio State when you can go bottom feeding in the Big XII at Iowa State to take on Oklahoma & Texas? Or at Mississippi State to take on Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU? Or at Washington State to take on USC, California, Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona State?

    I think some of that argument is going back to what Kirk Herbstreit has been saying on ESPN about the perception of Big 10 football around the country. It’s nothing more than mid-major at this point despite what we in Indiana believe to be true. I’m an IU alum and I love Indiana and the Big 10, but if everyone outside of Big 10 country thinks it’s mid-major because we get waxed in bowl games and in our non-conference slate against SEC team and Pac 10 Teams and Big XII teams then that’s a lot of the country geographically with tons of talent we aren’t able to tap into because of the perception.

    With this I still think IU needs to look at their football team like a small market baseball team would. How can they best exploit the inefficiencies in college football. My take on this is two parts:

    1. Coaching: I’ve already written what I think about that. If the college game is headed towards more spread offense (and it is) then the big inefficiency right now is Butch Jones at Central Michigan. Now there may be others but that is the one that immediately jumps to mind.

    Also think about the whole stepping stone aspect of Indiana as a program. It’s not a stepping stone to just any other program but the top shelf programs. If a coach were to make Indiana a typical 7-5, 8-4, 9-3 squad then they aren’t going to jump ship to Iowa or Oklahoma State or Arizona or South Carolina. Those would be horizontal moves. I’m talking about a stepping stone to a place like Florida, Michigan, Texas, USC, Notre Dame & Florida State.

    As basketball royalty are there any programs that wouldn’t be a stepping stone outside of IU basketball than Duke, UNC, Kansas, UCLA & UK?

    So that is the first inefficiency and with the big named schools having some stability at the moment, who is to say that if Jones were to come to Indiana he might not stay for 10-12 years?

    2. Talent: “Bettor” is right when it comes to talent, but Indiana is never (at least at this point) going to get top-shelf recruits. It isn’t going to happen just like the Pittsburgh Pirates weren’t going to sign Mark Teixeira this offseason. But IU needs recruiting coordinators and coaches who can exploit this system like Billy Beane was doing back in the early-2000s with the A’s. Let’s look at the 2009 Phil Steele annual and the SEC teams. Here are some following players and where Steele had them ranked as high school players:

    Clint Boling/RT/Georgia: Steele had him as the 118th best OL prospect. He was 1st team All-SEC last season.
    Geno Atkins/DT/Georgia: Steele had him as the 202nd best DL prospect. He was 1st team All-SEC last season.
    LeMarcus Thompson/LB/Tennessee: Steele had him as the 167th best LB prospect. He was an all-SEC freshman team member.
    Eric Norwood/LB/South Carolina: Steele had him as the 93rd best LB prospect. He was a 1st team All-SEC last season.
    Jeremy Jarmon/DE/Kentucky: Steele had him as the 377th best DL prospect. He was 2nd team all-SEC last season.
    Trevard Lindley/CB/Kentucky: Steele had him as the 189th best DB prospect. He was a 2nd team All-American last season!

    Those are just SEC players and I don’t know all the backgrounds of them or where they are from or whether geographic purposes made them want to stay at those places or even if the SEC as a conference played a role. The rankings are for their high school classes obviously but these were guys who were not top shelf talents by any stretch who became all SEC players and one an All-American!

    Would IU’s defense look better with those 6 players? I’d think so, but the powers that but those are the players IU needs and somehow they have to figure a way out to identify those players. Indiana cannot be limited by the Midwest in this pursuit nor should they as Indiana as a state simply doesn’t have the HS football talent to look this deeply into the pool of players and pull them out.

  57. Sorry, I don’t believe you. Because I saw two teams in our conference land Top 25 classes after two and one win seasons. Illinois was 2-9 in 2006. They went on to land the 20th ranked class in the country. In 2007, Illinois went 2-10. They ended up landing the 23rd ranked class in the country. The next year they went to the Rose Bowl. They beat Ohio State in Columbus. Why? Because they hired a recruiter in Locksley. They acquired talent the first two years. Juice Williams. Arrelious Benn. Rashard Mendenhall. Vontae Davis. Martez Wilson.

    Illinois and Indiana were in the exact same spot in 2005. Both teams were a laughing stock and a walkover for 90% of the Big Ten. They competed to not finish in last place in the Big Ten. Indiana hired Hep, who got cancer. Unfortunate. Hep’s recruiting classes were at the bottom of the Big Ten and we’re seeing the results today. Not Hep’s fault – recruiting is 90% done by the assistant coaches, who are assigned a geographical region to recruit. Matt Canada does Illinois and Florida, Bobby Johnson does Ohio and Georgia, Billy Lynch does Indiana, George Ricumstrict does Michigan, Brian George does Pennsylvania, Mike Yeager does Ohio, Kyle Connor does Wisconsin. They’re the people who go to the homes of these recruits, visit with them, watch their practices, talk to their coaches, etc. Not the head coach.

    We are trying to get to where Purdue and Minnesota were in the 2000s. Making mediocre bowls and having 7/8 win seasons. Our program’s goal is to finish in 5th, and I have a problem with that. Purdue and Minnesota are way ahead of us in program development, and realize the way to win is not what we’re trying to do, but to recruit. Purdue hired someone with Florida ties. Hate them or not, that’s a smart move. Hope will put them in a better spot than Tiller. Minnesota hired someone with Texas ties.

    Minnesota is the second example of a horrible team landing top recruits – because of their head coach. They got a Top 25 class after a 1-11 season, which put them in a bowl game this year as well as almost winning at Wisconsin, winning at Purdue, winning at Illinois, and covering the spread (I would remember this) at Ohio State. They were 4-0 ATS on the road. How did IU do in their road games? Scored 7 points at Minnesota, scored 7 points at Purdue, scored 13 points at Illinois, scored 7 points at Penn State. PATHETIC!

    The absolute ONLY way to compete in college football is to win the recruiting battle. If your players are less talented than the other team’s players, the game is over before it starts. College sports is an eyeball test. Every year people I know come to IU football games and talk about how small we are. We then go onto get killed in the trenches, teams run all over us, and don’t compete.

    IU absolutely HAS to get a coach in here who can recruit elite talent. Lynch and his staff in no way, shape, or form is that guy. Illinois and Minnesota have proven that you can be a piss poor team and still land talent, if you have a good recruiter. Locksley went to New Mexico, and snagged four 3 star prospects immediately with multiple BCS offers.

    Darren Jones had offers from Illinois and Wisconsin, went to NM to play for Locksley. Demond Dennis had offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisville, and coach Locksley got him. Emmanuel Yeager had a Louisville offer and was the 31st ranked QB in the country. Derrell Person had a Penn State, Virginia, Illinois, Rutgers, Maryland, and Syracuse offer. He went to New Mexico. Were they born Lobos, or did they go to play for Locksley?

    It CAN happen, you CAN land elite talent if you don’t have the tradition, the facilities, the prestige. You simply need a recruiter. Minnesota landed three 4 stars from TX, CA, and FL in this year’s class. In 2008, Brewster landed another 4 star from TX, as well as two from CA, one from NY, IL, and MN. This coming off a 1-11 season.

  58. I have to agree with Bettor, a good recruiter goes a long way to getting recruits. Take Tom Crean, Indiana was on the verge of sanctions, and he still signed his 2009 class with relative ease.

  59. J Pat,

    Lynch survives the whole season, if we tank this year, talks of his removal will be all over the fan base, but the admin won’t get serious till the week of the Bucket game.


    You are correct about the recruiter. Something we are sorely missing here. Better talent will make for a better team. Let me ask you this, do you know of a good recruiter who would be willing to come to IU and work under Lynch?

    We need better players to get better. We need better recruiting to get better players. We need better coaching to get better recruiting. It all starts at the top spot.

    IU needs a head coach who is well known (rather a former or current head coach, or top assistant) that will bring in coaches who can walk into the 4 & 5 star kids homes and convince them to look to us and not to OSU, Florida, PSU etc..

    Oh, and don’t sing Illinois praise to loud, yet. Yes they made the Rose Bowl in 2007 (thanks to Mendenhall), and as I predicted, they were sitting at home during the bowl season last year with a 5-7 record.

    Recruiting top talent isn’t enough, Ron Zook proved that at Florida and is on his way to proving it again at Illinois.

  60. Zach,

    That’s comparing apples to oranges. Indiana basketball is one of the top-6 storied programs in the country along with Duke, UNC, Kansas, UCLA & UK. You can’t compare recruiting IU Basketball to IU Football. IU Basketball is royalty. IU Football at the moment is serfdom.


    I completely agree with you. If you can get top-shelf talent then go right ahead by all means and of course a great recruiter would be able to land that. That’s why I brought up Butch Davis earlier going to UNC. Why couldn’t Indiana have pulled that? Ron Zook recruits well at Illinois, why couldn’t have Indiana pulled that down too?

    We’re arguing two sides of the same coin. I’m all for getting top shelf talent and for the life of me it seems odd that Indiana can’t be a legit top-20 team every season. They should be that. Why they aren’t? I don’t know.

    But if that top-shelf talent isn’t there then there has to be some way to exploit the all-conference players from other conferences out of state that aren’t highly recruited. The 6 defensive players I mentioned were not highly recruited player who were All-SEC defensive players. If Indiana had those 6 players last season and then coming into this season, I think our defense would look MUCH DIFFERENT.

    I’m with you on top shelf talent. Geez, bring as much in as you can and from that perspective, I don’t see how Lynch keeps his job, but along with that, IU needs to exploit inefficiencies in the market given everything else they are fighting against such as a non-football rich tradition school and the geographic mess we are in given the close proximity to Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Louisville, Purdue and Kentucky.

  61. 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

    I agree with you on this, but will take it one step farther, based of your continued argument.

    The second half performances of his teams are abysmal. -Bettor

    That says it all. This staff should be judge heavier on the performance in those 4 games (assuming they win the 3 give me games), and more specifically how they perform in the 2nd half.

    If they go in at half with a commanding lead, only to hang on by a field goal (2007 bucket game?), do they get a pass because it is a W?

  62. I am traveling for the Virgina game and man I hope they win that one. The Akron game will be hard to win on the road if there new place is up and running. I agree that the staff should be judged heavier on those 4 core games but the whole body of work needs looked at HARD this year! The breakdown in points last year from first half to second half was insane. When you look at that, it is a miracle that one person on staff is still here coaching. The mid school year AD switch saved some coaches jobs. I feel like if Greenspan had stayed and his job had been secure, whole new staff for sure!

  63. these are all pretty thoughtful comments, some are very insightful. i hope AD glass and coach lynch read them and take them to heart.

    these comments show that folks care about IU football and want it to improve; we don’t simply criticize it and say screw ’em when they’re no good. (we used to; but then we decided to take the thoughtful approach…)

    the bottom line is having a coach who can recruit better players.

    so simple yet so hard.

  64. After what I saw personally on the field last year at home every game, at Illinois(why did I make that trip???), and at Purdue(yep, I was there too and oh boy wasn’t that fun?), IU HAS NO EASY WINS ON THEIR SCHEDULE!!!

    I fear a train wreck is coming.

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