Friday, April 16, 2010

On Indiana Football, A Commitment and a New Glass Twist

For all those burning for a basketball recruiting fix, consider a football break. Today is spring game day, the annual event that leaves a football coach praying for an injury free finale. For Indiana’s Bill Lynch, however, it also comes with the benefit of knowing he now has five high school players committed for the Class of 2011.

Oh, yes. Lynch also gets to wonder what the heck is IU athletic director Fred Glass going to do next to get people into Memorial Stadium?

First, let’s focus on recruiting. The latest commitment, revealed by the efforts of Inside Indiana’s Matt Weaver, is linebacker Zach Shaw from Coshocton, Ohio, and if you don’t know where the town is (basically between Canton and Columbus) you just might understand the significance of Shaw’s junior numbers –- a school record 228 tackles and a school record eight interceptions.

Yes, this 6-4, 218-pounder is a playmaker and that is something the Hoosiers can’t get enough of given that poor defense, more than any other factor, is why they’ve been to just one bowl game in the last 17 years.

Now a cynic could say that the Hoosiers beat out Kent State, Toledo and Ball State for Shaw, so how good is he? Well, Ohio State, West Virginia and Michigan were looking at him, so that tells you something, but if you seek a definitive answer, you’ll have to wait about three or four years and see what kind of college player he becomes.

Shaw is the second Ohio linebacker to commit to IU, joining Mike Replogle. The other commitments are quarterback Tre Roberson and tight end Jake Reed (both are from Indiana) and offensive lineman Kirk Harris from Kansas.

As far as the spring game (otherwise knows as the battle between the Cream and Crimson), the Hoosiers are never going to rival, say, Alabama for drawing huge crowds. But Glass wants to make it an event fans will want to see. Sure, he could bring in Tiger Woods to hit golf balls off the North End Zone addition, but that’s not realistic, so he’s settled for 3,000 free t-shirts. Some will be cream colored, some will be crimson. Fans will sit on the stadium’s east side and will be divided into a Cream Section and a Crimson Section. They’ll cheer and have a chance to win prizes. The big one is a chance for a randomly selected student to kick a 40-yard field goal. Why is that big? Because making the field goal will be worth a year’s free tuition.

If you’re a parent of an IU student, this is a VERY big deal. It's the latest example of why Glass and his outside-the-box thinking helped boost football attendance by about 10,000 or so a game last fall.

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