Greg Heban on Doug Mallory, Jon Fabris

Reached out to recent IU graduate and former safety Greg Heban for his thoughts on the firing of Doug Mallory and Jon Fabris. He sent back a response via text message that is insightful, even-handed, and probably way too long for me to jam into the story I’ve already written on the topic. But anyway, thought it was worth reading considering how closely Heban worked with Mallory and the fact that he was the team’s defensive captain. It follows.

“Well, I think I was just mainly shocked at the timing. I figured if they were going to do it they would have done it soon after the season, so after a couple weeks I was kind of set that the whole staff was returning. I really liked Coach Mal as a coach as well as Coach Fabs. Both are extremely intelligent and passionate coaches, and I learned a lot from both of them which is why I hate to see them leave IU, but I have no doubt they will find a good fit for both of them. Not only are they great coaches, but they’re better people off the field. As for coach Wilson, I think everything he does, he does in full interest of the team, so if he felt that was what needed to be done, then it needed to be done. I know Coach Wilson will bring in coaches that will continue to build our defense and continue to keep this team growing in a positive manner.”

UPDATE: Asked Heban what he thought made Mallory a good coach, and also if he thought it was unfair that he was saddled with much of the blame that came from IU’s poor defensive rankings. His response came at about 10:30 p.m., as he’s roadtripping to Florida.

“I think his knowledge of the game was one of his biggest attributes. Having coached at big places and coached for a long time, he knows his stuff. I think what impressed me is just what I said, just how much he knows the game and how he can relate to every position. I think he did shoulder an unfair amount of blame just because he was the DC. It wasn’t all the coaches fault though. You have to blame the players such as myself for some of it. It’s give and take when it comes to performance and I think we as players and coaches just didn’t get where we needed to get these past years as a defense.”


  1. We can all learn something from Greg Heban. I don’t know may 22-23 year olds who could express their opinion on a obviously tough issue so eloquently. I wish both coaches and their families the best. It can’t be easy. I hope their replacements are able to improve the defense, specifically the pass rush. Go Hoosiers.

  2. Who is on IU’s short list? How do they approach the hire? Do they go for a current defensive co-ord from a small school, pull someone out of retirement? How about a guy like Tom Bradley of Penn St, Manny Daiz from Middle Tennessee, Ron English from Louisville? I don’t know if they could get any of those guys, but a quick look at the top defensive coordinators in NCAA FB pops up several names. The Mallory’s are a class family and I wish them all the best. Still I am looking forward to a new hire and the chance to see a high energy attacking defense next year.

  3. Please Coach Wilson, no Many Diaz for IU. He did a horrible job at UT-Austin. He was an absolute bust as proven by his successor who quickly resurrected UT’s defensive game. If you select Many Diaz, you will regret firing Coach Doug Mallory. Coach Doug is head and shoulders of above Diaz as incredible it may seem to you and others.

  4. Indiana football coaches are some of the lowest paid coaches in the Big Ten. IU has been pretty much getting what they paid for.

  5. When Fabris was hired all I heard was how great a D-line coach he was based on what he did at Georgia. Don’t know if his failure was in part due to a lack of quality talent to work with or him having to adjust to a scheme that just didn’t fit with what it he was used to teaching? If he gets hired somewhere else and fields a terrific DL then we might have our answer.

    Our defense as a whole is terrible. Wilson has pretty much ignored this side of the ball for three years and we now all of a sudden expect him to higher a savior and turn this thing around. The defense is now going to have to learn and adjust to an entirely different scheme, and we are not that talented, so expect some growing pains.

    I’ll be amazed if we win more than what we did this past year, especially considering what we lose on offense.

  6. WFW,
    Solid points, and will be interested to see how Mallory and Fabris fare with other teams.

    My goal is 6 wins, but you also have to note the conference realignment, as they put the Hoosiers in a hard “East” Division, that has little forgiveness for underperforming teams, and or defense.

  7. wfw, You have no idea what you are talking about. For 3 years Wilson has had more assistants on the D side of the ball than on the offense. If you want to talk about bad hires, wrong chemistry or poor recruiting that may be another argument. But when Wilson was hired his #1 priority was to give the D more emphasis by assigning an extra assistant coach to the defense.

  8. WFW, you’re right that getting rid of Mallory is no guarantee that the IU’s problems are over, but the defensive players having to adjust to a new scheme isn’t as daunting as it might seem- they never understood the old one.

    Anyone know why the IU website only shows conf. games for next year’s schedule? My recollection of the 2104 schedule previously published includes Missouri in Columbia and N. Texas St in Bloomington. Can’t recall the other two non-conf. games.

  9. Sorry Mr. Heban, while you raise a good question about the timing of Mallory’s firing, as much as I respect you for all the obvious reasons, and as much as I appreciate and applaud your eloquence in expressing yourself, you do not have the perspective or frame of reference on what a good Defensive Coordinator is or is not. You played for three years under Coach Mallory. Before that, you played under a coach that was as bad if not worse. I don’t think you’ve been coached by a high quality Defensive Coordinator. And I’m sorry for that because you deserved better. Being knowledgeable about one’s job is not nearly enough. As you will come to appreciate, success requires knowledge combined with performance, with a little bit of luck included, to be a successful manager/leader in this competitive world. As you gain more experience in “the real world,” you will come to appreciate that achieving the desired results (i.e., performance) in one’s job is far more important than having a lot of knowledge about one’s job.

    You’re a fine young man and a great Hoosier, Greg. Good luck to you in the future and thank you for your contributions to Indiana University.

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