Wilson: Hoosiers “Mentally weak” right now

Kevin Wilson kept his new football team on the field a half-hour longer than he expected to on Tuesday and he still wasn’t thrilled at it once it was over.

Indiana’s new coach wasn’t specific on what upset him but made it clear that he wanted to see more than what he was seeing.

“They’re mentally not as well-conditioned as they are physically,” Wilson said when asked about the team’s conditioning level. “We mentally are weak. Mentally fatigue, we’re not a mentally tough team. I think physically we can go out there and run, but I think we get tired a little too quick when we practice. It’s just playing through it, learning through it, growing through it. … It’s repetition, day after day. It’s why we’re late today.”

Wilson suggested he could see this group getting better, but he said he also hopes it gets better immediately with an injection of talent from the incoming freshmen. Wilson has already made it clear that redshirting players will not be nearly as vital to his philosophy as it was to former coach Bill Lynch’s. On Tuesday, he suggested that the use of freshmen would be even more prominent than he had previously indicated.

“Our plan is to play as many freshmen as we can,” Wilson said. “From watching some of our guys, I would hope some of our freshmen are better than the guys that we have on our team.”

He continued on that track later.

“I’ve seen seniors get beat out by freshmen,” Wilson said. “I would think here there are some seniors that can get beat out by guys coming in. I hope. I think we have some guys on the two-deep that can be beat out by guys coming in. We need to develop our team. That’s lifting, but I don’t see it as a five-year deal. I see development by competition. Not development by waiting. We’ve been waiting 40-some years to go to a Rose Bowl again. It’s not about waiting, it’s about increasing the competition, increasing the energy level.”

Wilson was also asked at length about the quarterback position, with the primary actors in that being rising sophomores Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. He didn’t mention either name, though, and suggested that the competition could be a long one and determined by a lot of different factors.

“It’s not like we got ‘Win one for the Gipper speeches,'” Wilson said. “We’re a no-huddle team. It’s not like he’s talking like he’s in the huddle and he’s Bart Starr and giving the great speech or something. He’s the guy who’s speaking the plays, playing the offense. In summer, it will be interesting to see who can be the guy that chases the players around and gets them here for the voluntary workouts. … The players make players come, and one attribute of the starting quarterback will be to get guys to come follow him. We’ll see if that happens this summer.”

He said respect earned from teammates would be crucial.

“You can’t give that position to anyone,” Wilson said. “It’s not a political vote. It’s not a media deal. That’s one of the reason practices are closed. A guy can statistically look bad and it’s not his fault at quarterback. So then, we’re in the paper, ‘Well this guy looks better than this guy.’ Does he? That guy that looked good went the wrong way three times but got lucky. So that’s why we don’t want people seeing what we’re doing all the time. We’re letting our players earn the respect of each other and earn the jobs. The quarterback is a critical position and that position has to be earned. We’ll see in time how that goes.”

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson

AUDIO: Rod Smith

AUDIO: Deland McCullough

AUDIO: Ted Bolser and Max Dedmond


  1. I love this guy! No more making excuses and not calling players out for poor performances. No more automatically playing just because you are a 5th year senior. It may take a season or two for him to bump up our recruited talent but the future looks bright to me.

  2. For the first time in a long time I’m excited about Indiana football…its nice to see someone that actually cares about having a winning program and what it takes to have one.

  3. A thinker! His words give a good look at who Coach Wilson is. He’s holding players and himself accountable. I particularly like the fact that he defines his expectations and has no tolerance for those who do not hold themselves accountable to them.

    He is absolutely right, we saw that mental weakness and fatigue several times in the last three years. The Hoosiers in a position to win and a collapse or a surrendering to a mental fatigue, a blown assignment…a weakness that marked us as ‘losers’.

    It is clear he is approaching it as a professional and an experienced winner, which Hoosier players need to see and be around.

    Great detail DD…lots to read and think about in this story.

  4. Finally! Someone in charge who understands that this is a tough sport played by big boys. IU has been so mentally weak and fundamentally unsound for so long that it takes a gritty motivator to get them back to the basics. This is refreshing and it looks like we got somebody who knows that we’ve got to toughen our approach and give everyone a reality check on this thing. KW won’t become an “enabler” to this team by letting them dictate the benchmark for effort. Just good enough won’t cut it at this level. It took somebody from a program that truly knows what needs to be done for success to readjust our own criteria. Refreshing.

  5. I hope he “thinks” long and hard on how he can close the talent gap and lure the best away from top-tier teams in the conference. OSU doesn’t need to cheat but does it stop them from gaining an even greater advantage? And what’s with the comment about waiting for a Rose Bowl? The only “waiting” he has done at IU is for the paint in his new office to dry. Gotta love the fact that in just a few months he has already learned to feel the many years of misery our longing search for a football program. This preacher reminds me a lot of Tom Crean. All air, no substance. I can understand how intoxicating that can be to some with similar wind.

  6. This is very refreshing to hear. I love what he is saying about players needing to be mentally tougher. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Go recruit players who can get the job done not MAC leftovers.

  7. Samantha- Just curious, what is your definition of “substance”? Are you that clairvoyant that you are able to see into the souls of coaches and judge them as worthy or unworthy by a few speeches?


  8. As a season ticket holder since I was a student in the mid-90’s, I’m loving, loving, loving Coach Wilson more and more each time he speaks! This is exactly the type of hard-nosed, honest, no-bullsh*t critique and criticism needed about the players currently on the team and those coming in!

    Other coaches have ran IU like a union, seniority counts even when you suck! Coach Wilson does not fit that mold best guys play, PERIOD! Just the way it should be! A lot of the guys on the team should NOT be playing D1 ball at a Big Ten school to begin with! Coach Wilson can see exactly what us fans have been bi*ching about for years and has the bravado to call it out! I LOVE IT!!!

    I want a team that busts chops, plays smash mouth football, works hard, won’t be bullied or intimidated, doesn’t quit, isn’t passive and as has swagger with the commitment, fire, energy and desire to back it up! In losses I want the opposing team to think, “WTF just happened? We may have won, but I feel like I just got my @$$ kicked!”

    All of this is exactly what winning teams are made of and I’m ecstatic to hear an IU Coach finally talk and preach that type of mentality to the team! I’m so looking forward to the Coach Wilson era! I don’t expect to see miracles, this year, just marked improvement from the beginning to the end of the season. I’ll expect bigger things in a couple years.

    Sorry, for the sermon! LOL But, as an avid football guy I’ve been burning in the stands for years! Especially, when it was easy to predict from the stands what plays IU was going to run on offense 60% to 70% of the time! I’m sure I’m not alone in that assessment! 🙂

  9. Mike W, that was a great post. I agree with everything you wrote and appreciate there are other people that feel the same way I do. This is D1 football, screw seniority…best players play, period!

  10. Coach Wilson has already advanced the IU Football program. He is working toward developing a mentally tough, tenacious competitor ethos. If you can produce, you can play NOW! If you can’t, here is what YOU have to do to get better, now do it! What he is saying in this article is exactly what many of us have felt while watching IU Football these last 3-4 years. GO IU!

  11. I agree with a lot of these comments. Coaching staff has a clear concept of the mental and physical deficiencies that have plagued the program for decades. You can’t manage a problem until you can measure it and you can’t measure it without first understanding it, so it is encouraging to see that we understand the problem(s).

    But, fixing this will take at least this season; so I don’t see a bowl in 2012. I do see us there in 2013 and that’s exciting.

  12. Did Bill L have a daughter named Samantha?
    It’s great to see big boy football coming to Bloomington. Getting preferential treatment due to seniority is how idiots become CEOs. I always hated how BL tried to redshirt everyone. If a kid can’t play, don’t recruit him. Go after guys you want on the field now, not after they grow up. How did we ever afford giving so many players five years?
    A no huddle offense in the Big Ten. I love it. KW sees himself as a Hoosier. He was a good hire.

  13. Let’s see: there is baseball, softball, mens and womens tennis, track and field, spring soccer, spring football and recruiting, year round basketball and recruiting, etc. but NO “Hoosier Morning” since 3/15/11. Are you guys still on “spring break”?

  14. @JPat: Thank you! I appreciate that you, as well as others, have the same passion as I do for this team and their quest for success!

  15. I’ve been critical of Wilson because he comes off sounding (and behaving) like an a-hole. However, these comments from him about the sorry level of talent that he’s inherited have made me reconsider holding his personality against him. Now, I LIKE him because he’s obviously an a-hole. We sure haven’t had much success with ‘nice guy’ coaches in the past.

  16. A very solid reason for closed practices. I suspect in the Wilson regime there will be nearly as many redshirts over the next couple of seasons as there was with the Lynch years.

  17. Good piece Dustin. Good interviews too, though I counted about 25 “mmm’s” on your part during the Coach Wilson interview alone. Please stop.

  18. I am loving the attitude of Coach Wilson. Coach Lynch was always to PC for me.

    I know kids on the team, watched them grow up. Under Lynch, I never seen post about getting better, post about being worn out after practices, or pictures posted of their arms and legs turning all kinds of funky colors from bruising.

    I’ve seen all that this year!

  19. Thanks CoachWilsonFan, and I’ll consider your concerns. But I actually do that for a reason. It’s like verbal encouragement. It keeps people talking. I know it’s annoying on tape, but I’ve always thought it’s served a purpose. Maybe I’m wrong and I don’t have empirical evidence that it works, but I always felt like that helped me keep people more engaged in conversation.

  20. I think Dustin is stupid-hot when says things like “empirical evidence”.

  21. Wow. I like this article. And DD and Hugh, kudos to you guys. Not sure why today is attack the blogger day.

  22. Dustin, I understand the verbal encouragement part, and that is thoughtful. Perhaps you can try to achieve the same results by nodding, so it doesn’t negatively impact the quality of the audio dialog you’re recording. I’m just thinking of how we can take you from good to great. The mmm’s are pretty distracting.

    Spe: Not meaning to attack Dustin. He’s awesome. Want to improve him, much like Coach Wilson is trying to improve our squad. But without calling him mentally weak, like coach does.

  23. Dustin, you do a great job. Don’t change a thing!!! Coach Wilson is exactly what IU needed in a coach. Let’s give him 5 years to show what he can do. I hate this immediate results expectations we tend to have. Coach Crean is a perfect example. Reality is , unless you cheat, it takes time. And we Indiana fans have have learned that lesson……. I hope.

  24. Gentlemen,
    I believe we have a football coach on our hands.

    See you at the Rock on the 16th?

    Haven’t seen results yet, but very, very hopeful.

  25. I’d be very worried about Wilson and IU FB’s future if Wilson’s recent comments about the team were all warm, fuzzy, positive and PC right now. He is “raising the bar” and using the media to reinforce the message to his players. It is absolutely essential that he do this. There is no room for PC in football, just like there should not be room for PC in combat. It’s an in-your-face-violent game and the team that usually wins is the one that can impose its physical and mental will on the other team. It requires both physical and mental toughness and it was obvious to almost any football fan that IU’s teams over the past few years lacked both. And the toughness required always starts with the head coach. It’s obvious from the comments made by Wilson and his new assistants that IU football’s toughness is going to improve, one way or the other. IU may not have a winning season in 2012, but I predict IU will be a tougher team and one the Hoosier Nation will enjoy watching. In time, this translates to recruiting tougher players and tougher football players will win more games. And on that point, I’ve always thought people placed too much emphasis “talent.” Of course a team needs a lot of talented players, but in football, talent without toughness is the definition of loser.

  26. Great post, Podunker. Have you been in Bloomington a while? If so, what did you think of DiNardo? I recently bumped into the team physician, who I occasionally chat football with. He said that DiNardo was tough and business-like with a serious demeanor, similar to Wilson, and look how that panned out.

    I didn’t agree with him, but just thought it was interesting. Wilson’s pedigree blows away DiNardo’s and I am sure he walks the walk.

  27. washington apple — gerry dinardo lost control of the team and they glazed over and tuned him out. if kevin wilson can keep that from happening and improve IU’s mental and physical toughness, they will win some games they would have lost in the past and the change in IU’s football culture of losing will follow — I hope. Been an IU fan for too long to believe it before I see it, and even then, not to believe it too much.

    it happened at Kansas State and Northwestern and Texas Christian. Maybe if IU changes its color from crimson to purple it’ll happen here…

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