After firing, Mallory remained a Hoosier

When Indiana University fired Bill Mallory in the fall of 1996, he could’ve left altogether.

He could’ve packed up and departed Bloomington, severing ties with the school and the football program in the process.

But that wasn’t Bill Mallory.

Instead of leaving Indiana in his wake, Mallory and his wife, Ellie, continued to invest time toward and contribute to the school and community in the 22 years following his ouster.

It’s part of the reason why Hoosiers so revere the former coach.

And it’s why Mallory, who died Friday at 82, will remain a giant in these parts for years to come.

“Very rarely do you get to end it on your own terms, whether you’re a player or a coach,” former IU quarterback Trent Green said. “That’s one of the tough things about the business, whether it’s in the high school ranks, the college ranks or the pro ranks. You rarely get that opportunity to end it when you want to end it. For him, he didn’t possess bitterness about the whole thing. He loved the university and he loved the people that he built relationships with over the years.”

Not long after accepting the IU head coaching job in 1984, Mallory made Ellie a promise. Bloomington would be their last move.

During the course of a football life that had taken the family across the country and so many places in between, Southern Indiana would be their final stop.

Mallory kept his word.

“When I took this job, people said, ‘You know, IU is a great school,'” Mallory told The Herald-Times in 2016. “‘It’s a great school academically. You’ll really like it there. But you’ll love Bloomington, and living in Bloomington.’ We have.

“I told Ellie, I said, ‘This is our last move. We’re not going anymore. After this, when I finish up here, this is it.’ And it has been. This has become home. What makes any community a great community is people. There are just a lot of quality, quality people here.”

When Mallory was fired late in the 1996 season, IU officials reasoned that 13 consecutive Big Ten losses were too many to overlook.

After building the program to previously unseen heights, Mallory, the winningest coach in program history, became a victim of his own success.

Still, Mallory refused to let the setback define his outlook of the program or the school.

“I was at Northern Illinois working for Joe Novak and Coach (Mallory)’s oldest son, Mike, was our defensive coordinator,” said Mark Hagen, IU’s current defensive line coach and a former Hoosier captain under Mallory. “I’ll never forget the day he walked in and shut the door and said that Indiana had just fired his dad. I was upset. I was bitter, but you didn’t have to look any further than Coach Mal and Ellie and how they handled it.

“It was a true life lesson for anybody out there that saw how they handled it. They didn’t pack up and leave town. Sure, there was disappointment, but he was so invested in Indiana University and its fans, the community and the football team. He wasn’t about to leave. He was very disappointed. I know he was. But what a life lesson for all to see how he handled that situation. I think that says everything about the type of person that Bill Mallory was.”

Mallory remained a fixture both in the Bloomington area and at Indiana University, where he enthusiastically supported the Hoosiers football program as if it were still his own.

In so many ways, it was — and always will be.

“I’ve met lots of people that were loyal: close friends and family, but it’s nothing like this man,” said former IU linebacker Kevin Kelly, now the director of college scouting for the Los Angeles Chargers. “It’s incredible. He loved Indiana. That never wavered.”

32 comments

  1. I think it was a two way street. IU gave him an opportunity to be involved after they fired him. Though coach Mallory was disappointed IU made coach Mallory feel comfortable and wanted in other capacities. He accepted with demonstrating his integrity once again.

  2. Not only didn’t Mallory not leave but they became a fixture in Bloomington and IU. The way they handled an unpopular firing is a great example of the type of people they were. IU benefitted greatly in many ways by having coach Mallory around after he retired from football.

  3. I remember clearly on the day of his firing the fight, the incredulous outrage and hurt he displayed for a brief time. But he quickly about faced into a quiet period and then acceptance. It was the appropriate path for him.

  4. I remember being outraged by the way Mallory was fired. Wasn’t close enough to the program at the time to question the decision to fire him or not, but the way the idiots running IU and the Athletic Department fired did it was bush-league, and gave IU and the Athletic Department another black eye. It reminded me of the way IU fired Lee Corso, who was out recruiting at the time and heard the news on the radio. And then, adding insult to injury, they replaced Mallory with Cam Cameron, a young man who had never been a head coach before. It was, at the time, a classic display of IU’s ineptitude in all things involving football. They should have met with Mallory, dedicated a statue in his honor to be placed at the West entrance to Memorial Stadium and celebrated him as IU’s most successful football coach in history.

  5. Conference loses and multiple years of unfilled scholarships helped do Coach Mallory in. His loyalty to underachievers on staff and the administration’s refusing to increase assts for an improving program also added to the poor chemistry above. It was the ‘perfect storm’ long before the label was made popular.

  6. Yes, IU fb was backsliding in wins last couple years of Mallory coaching tenure and it didn’t look to promising in near future nor as usual there wasn’t a lot of support for the fb program even after IU had a fairly solid streak of winning (minus his first two years and last two years). I remember coach Mallory said that they finally got a qb referring to Mr. fb Earl Haniford. Haniford hardly played during his time. However, even after Mallory left he stayed in the program and earned a degree. I also remember coach Mallory being visibility upset about his firing. There was nothing abnormal about his response. He was a coach. I am not sure if it was the right decision, but I don’t think it was the wrong decision either. Yes, things are different even from then to nowadays. In the end keeping things in perspective with a bump here and there, at IU for coach Mallory things proceeded along pretty well…a man of integrity that had a blessed career in coaching fb and related areas that he had a love for, a job well done.

    1. t, I was coaching the North All-star team when Haniford was the South’s QB. We shut the South out and Haniford wasn’t a threat any part of that game. My assistant coaches said that he wouldn’t make it in the B1G and unfortunately coach Mallory and IU bet on him being a winning QB.

  7. The big question I have is will IU learn the lesson from Mallory’s tenure and never again leave a good coach without the support needed. Although Mallory’s last two years were going backwards from the heights he had taken IU, it is also arguable that he was a victim of his own success. As his top staffers were being lured away to other programs, he was unable to recruit in the same quality replacements. This is where the shame falls upon IU for the failure to provide the needed resources to hire in the best.

    Part of the blame does fall upon Mallory for his loyalty to those lesser quality staffers, but what was he going to replace them with? Without proper support from IU and the Hoosier Nation at large he was in a no win situation. If you don’t have the resources to hire the best, why go out and replace current staffers with more of the same? I will say it again, all we hear is we have to have a winner in order to support. IU had a winner, but when he needed support IU and Hoosier Nation was no where to be found.

  8. think, I’ll bet you Mallory was never part of a discussion in which someone in his chain-of-command asked the question, “how do we build on this recent success in football? How do we get even better? How do we keep this going?” You have to have leaders with a vision and a plan and who are capable of inspiring people to take action in pursuit of that plan. There is no natural aversion to football in the state of Indiana or amongst Hoosier fans. There is no genetic disorder that prevents Hoosier fans from wanting to watch college football games. At that point in time, IU Football had suffered for decades from a lack of competent leadership at the very top of the University. I’m talking Presidents, Trustees, and Athletic Directors who a) had no clue how to sustain a winning football program and b) didn’t care enough to take that challenge on.

    I’ll give credit to McRobbie and Glass. While I question whether Glass is a leader, he is at least a competent Manager who wants to see IU football become successful. Before him, I’m not sure any IU A.D. really cared!

  9. Agree. Leadership looked at success as wins during peak of that stretch plus thought assistants getting new jobs was a part of that success….and an concrete stadium should last a long time. Now, coach make that work. IU had a chance to invest and move program forward as is Northwestern doing. However, that was good enough for IU leadership when basketball was going full throttle and coach couldn’t make it work sustainable wins so then it became coach, that is not good enough and IU football program was passed by its competitors.

  10. Po & t,

    True enough, but where I draw the line is when folks want to say IU is a basketball school. Okay, let’s look at the P5 peer group of basketball schools and how their FB programs are doing. Look at Duke, NC, KY, and if you want traditionally UCLA, they all have relevant FB programs. Kansas just fired their AD I would argue mainly because the FB teams were not producing, can’t fault their BB success.

    Look at the B1G peer group of schools with relatively recent BB championships, MSU & UM. Even OSU has made runs to the final 4, but all manage to have both top 25 quality FB & BB programs on a regular basis. If IU wants to be nothing but a BB school then might as well leave the B1G and join the Big East and play Villanova every year. Only problem is they will sure have to give up a truck load of tv revenue sharing to do so. Let’s not forget, the majority of that B1G cash comes likely from FB tv, not BB tv.

    If anything the B1G should start demanding underachieving schools in FB start pulling their fair share competitively. As it stands the top 5 or 6 conference schools have been pulling most of the load all these years. What’s going to draw in more viewers, 2 B1G powerhouses going at it or yet another top team beat down of a conference cellar dweller? For reference purposes, take a look at the SEC west in particular. There is not a single easy game in the divisional schedule and the east division is catching up fast.

    In today’s modern P5 athletic environment, you cannot let the biggest potential cash cow languish and not produce revenue. With the potential of needing to pay student athletes on the horizon, that money will have to come from somewhere. Football far eclipses any other college sport with the revenue potential needed going forward. McRobbie, Glass, and maybe the current trustees may not be the best when it comes to managing athletic department asset, but I think they have figured out this part of the equation. Sad to say so many of their predecessors had so little foresight and unfortunately Bill Mallory was a casualty that negligence.

  11. France is known for croissants …Indiana for basketball. Is what it is…..though attempt to squirm, contort, twist, rail and rearrange as you may.
    Did you see the thousands waiting outside of Romeo’s high school? Far more Hoosiers there than the numbers waiting to get into Memorial on any given Saturday. Is what it is…..Indiana loves its hoops…Embrace it rather than making it into somebody’s fault that it’s not.

  12. think, another great post, and I agree with everything you wrote. The Hoosier fans who say, “well, IU is a basketball school” are just copping out. They’re making excuses. That’s a loser’s mentality. And obviously, IU has NOT been a “basketball school” for a long time. It’s not a zero-sum game! A major University can be competitive in both sports, and being good in one does not preclude a school from being good in the other. Many schools are competitive/relevant in both football and basketball. Look at Kansas State these days! Over the last decade or so, look at Ohio State, MSU, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, UCLA, TX A&M, Oklahoma, etc. And obviously, the more successful a school’s football program is, the more money the university has to spend on other sports, including basketball. One of the problems with IU (according to Glass) is that our basketball program has just about maxed out the revenue/profit it can generate for the Athletic Department. And relative to the revenue generated, IU spends a lot more money on basketball than it does on football, so men’s basketball is basically “breaking even.”

    But we’re talking about symptoms, and not the underlying disease. The disease that the Hoosier Nation suffers from is passivity. There are far too few Hoosier alums and/or fans who demand that IU build a competitive/relevant football program while remaining a top basketball program. Too many of us behave as if we’re suffering from “battered-wife syndrome.” Bottom line is that IU’s administration does not fear the wrath of IU’s Alumni, and they haven’t for a long time, if ever. Therefor, we’ve continued to get what we’ve tolerated.

    1. Yup and what Hoosier Nation needs to understand is FB & BB are now interconnected revenue wise. If the FB program does not pick up the pace of revenue at some point in time the BB program will begin to suffer. There are two components necessary program revenue and alumni $upport. Without it IU is going to finding lesser programs BB & FB passing it by. IU is at the beginning of a BB renaissance with Coach Miller, but how long can he sustain the program in the 21st century without a comprehensive athletic department game plan which includes a rising FB program?

      I would argue that at some point schools which do understand this will begin to distance themselves from schools which do not. How has the upper echelon of B1G schools been able to sustain BB superiority for over 20 years now over IU. We can say poor coaching but maybe it is even more than poor coaching. Just saying.

      1. Yes, you can say poor coaching…..Handing a team to Dan Dakich and then to Crean? Hell, that’s all the water anyone should need to douse the basketball flames and embrace football. Football lost a huge opportunity when we were fumbling around for 10 years with coaching ineptitude at Assembly. 10 years of mediocrity in March, apology, sideshows, and temperance of basketball expectations …and you still couldn’t take advantage over at Memorial? Shame on you…not shame on the fans.
        Sorry, but with Romeo now in candy stripes, you’re just gonna have to suck up your lost opportunity and backburner status again. Crean was the best thing that ever happened to IU Football…and IU Football couldn’t even tackle his tongue.

  13. With everything being said the bottom line is there are winners and there has to be an equal number of losers (except for ties)…to the degree that there are winners.

    1. t,
      I agree there are always winners and losers, but IUFB doesn’t have to be a perpetual loser. Quite frankly, if what I suspect comes to be, they won’t be able to afford to. Not to mention there are plenty of examples of losing programs turning it around.

  14. t, for a long, long time, IU ‘s administration has chosen to be a loser in football. Yes, it has been a choice. For what reasons, anybody’s guess is as good as mine, but nonetheless, it was a choice. And if you agree with that premise, then you agree that the current and future IU administration can choose not to be a loser in football.

  15. So can everyone else choose not to be a loser or choose to be a winner. You are still going to have winners and losers. I guess specifically the goal for IU would be to improve to win more some of the time and not lose as much similar to that Mallory stretch of about 8 years. That is easier said than done. Minny, Wisky, Purdue, NW, and others are trying to do the same thing regardless of what is done.

    1. t,
      I think the problem his been the historical lack of commitment to the FB program. The is an old business adage which says, “you have to spend a buck to make a buck.” It might be appropriate here especially with a comment I saw in one of the other articles from Coach Mallory. IU qualified for 7 bowls during his tenure but only went to 6, citing the cost being too much to attend a minor bowl on a 6 & 5 season. I think this pretty much exemplifies the difference between a winning and losing mindset.

      If you qualify and are invited to a bowl game, you go to the bowl game! If for no other reason the extended practice time for the underclassmen. IU and Hoosier Nation’s historical lack of commitment to the FB program is the reason for the malaise. Unfortunately the Mallory tenure was not long enough and big enough to establish a significant winning tradition at IU. If it had, it would be much more commonly understood as to what it means to the university as a whole.

  16. You want more fans in Memorial…? The premise doesn’t have to be a complete turnaround and competing for Big Ten titles. Butts in seats? Do what all smart marketers do…

    a. Start dressing the cheerleaders more scantily.
    b. Sell beer inside Memorial…Stop sales at end of 3rd quarter. Hasn’t Purdue decide to start selling beer at their games? Please don’t get on here and start making attendance comparisons when Lafayette has such an obvious hook that Memorial does not.
    c. More reduced priced tickets /promotions. (e.g. experiment with family purchase deals: 2nd ticket purchase receive a 25% discount…3rd ticket gets 33% discount…4th ticket and additional all receive 50% discount…JPat would love such a promotion).
    d. Try the Illinois marketing thing: Hold an outdoor basketball scrimmage inside Memorial to show off the new talent.

    If you are simply going to rely on the game, opponent, final score, and love of pigskin to fill seats at Memorial, you are in for a losing battle. Football must be an entertainment event. You have to transform the experience. Glass has failed to turn IU Football into an exciting experience and it is criminal to the businesses and local economy of Bloomington to simply put all the marbles of its livelihood into the hands of a head coach. It can be done. It just takes creative minds and some far better marketing hooks than cheap slogans on billboards like “Win Today”….or “Breakthrough Season.” Hot cheerleaders…Hot deals on ticket prices…Cold beer. Sports is all about living a fantasy through the memorable actions of someone not you. When you cheer, you cheer of the fantasy that could have been you(though any form of true reality would easily convince the dreamer that it could never be the ‘you’ out there)….Enhance that fantasy.

    I’m truly amazed that a university promoting one of the better business schools in the country can’t figure out a marketing strategy to increase Memorial attendance by a minimum of 50%. It should be a required case study in the classroom for every 4th year Kelley student.

    1. H4H,
      You managed to swerve into 2 very astute points. It is criminal to the local economy of Bloomington not to have a viable football draw. Just a little simple math would tell one that having a FB program rivaling the top B1G programs would mean more to the local economy on 6 Fall Saturdays than Basketball sold out every game. Your second point regarding Kelley does make one wonder about the school of business.

    2. Ridiculous. It’s as simple as 2+2. PUke proved it conclusively the past 5 seasons. Lose and weak fans find other options and the snowball gathers mass. Start winning and positive snowball starts growing with attendance being the beneficiary. Acceptable facilities, sound coaching, improving recruiting and a workable schedule. IU is poised to jump the queue. Their biggest challenge to make their mark is the B1G East. Nothing relevant to marketing is relevant.

      1. HC,
        I would generally agree with you except for one problem, the Mallory years. He won, and the positive snowball did not develop. There is more to it than just winning for a few seasons. There has to be a full commitment to the program ball ALL involved. That didn’t happen for Mallory even though he delivered to IU FB the most prolonged amount of success in program history. The question still remains will there be an all out commitment or is it just window dressing?

        1. Exactly my point. It takes a full package. Which Mallory never had. I’m still shocked how successful he was. BM’s downfall was recruiting. The problem with recruiting was because of low level facilities, recruiting budget and some assistants who would be poor recruiters even with solid facilities and larger budget. Thought I made that clear in the 1st post. Sorry.
          I was around Bloomington regularly in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. I heard lots and the consistent themes just as then make even more sense today. Mallory was a trooper he seldom bitched about his lack of necessities and resources. Greenspan, Lynch, Wilson, Allen and Glass have drug IUFB towards a 21st century collegiate FB model.

  17. HC,
    I would generally agree with you except for one problem, the Mallory years. He won, and the positive snowball did not develop. There is more to it than just winning for a few seasons. There has to be a full commitment to the program with ALL involved. That didn’t happen for Mallory even though he delivered to IU FB the most prolonged amount of success in program history. The question still remains will there be an all out commitment or is it just window dressing?

  18. Kelley biz school students? Who would take on the assignment? The 2% of students who stay for the second half of a game rather than skip out to their precious drunken fests?

  19. Movie theaters are beginning to sell beer/alcohol in an attempt to put butts in seats …People just aren’t going to the movies anymore.
    Do I want to sit next to someone drunk while watching ‘The Passion of the Christ’…? Not really. That sounds pretty much like the definition of hell. Passion of the IU Football….at Memorial Theater? Now I might just guzzle my share of Budweiser with that group. Let the wife drive home as the designated “passionate” fan who must watch horrible football in all its sober and somber glory.

  20. The Passion of the IU Football…? Laughing out loud to myself with that one. Once again

    Damn. That’s a truly serious blogging name change temptation.

  21. Mr. Mallory was raised in Sandusky, Ohio, and went on to become a star two-way player for Hall of Fame coach Ara Parseghian at Miami. He later coached under Woody Hayes at Ohio State before returning to Miami for his first head coaching job. He went 39-12 at Miami, including an 11-0 Mid-American Conference championship team in 1973.(courtesy: Boston Globe)

    Wow…Woody Hayes. You don’t have to be a tyrant to have worked under one. Hoosiers should remember such a lesson when talking so disparagingly about the many coaching disciples of Knight. Mallory must have gained some invaluable experience from those very astute(and one very controversial) football legends of the their time/era(ha..ha…..Ara. No pun intended).

    Mallory’s love for IU is undeniable….but we should also recognize our heyday in football(as many seem to define it) is also a result of the pathways Mallory took as a student of the game. Pedigree….Coach K ring a bell?

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