Saturday, June 26, 2010

Repeat After Us -- IU Football Will Not Finish 10th

Here we are, just over two months from the start of the football season and Indiana is taking a prediction hit. This one comes from Phil Steele’s 2010 College Football Preview. It has about every statistic imaginable, and even a few that aren’t.

We have taken all those numbers, fed them to the Hoosier Hoopla computer and spit out a Steele future in which IU is picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten, just ahead of Minnesota and just behind Purdue.

Yes, we’ve seen this before. Wouldn’t it be nice if just once those numbers predicted, say, a top-5 finish?

On the positive side, the magazine does pick the Hoosiers to sweep their four non-conference games. Of course, a lineup of Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State is not exactly a murderer’s row. These teams combined to go 9-37 in 2009.

No matter. This is EXACTLY the kind of non-conference schedule IU needs. The air-head days of scheduling trips to Oregon (although the Hoosiers somehow won that game) have given way to a saner scheduling approach.

A 4-0 non-conference record means IU would need to win two Big Ten games to become bowl eligible, three to clinch a bowl bid. How likely is that? Consider that in the last three years IU is 5-19 in conference games, the worst record of any Big Ten team. In the last five years it is 9-31. In the last 10 it’s 18-62. Those last two totals are easily the worst in the league.

The past, of course, does not predict the future. Repeat that 100 times and you might believe it. You can also believe this -- while IU lost 22 lettermen from last year, it does have talent and potential.

If it makes you feel better, repeat that 100 times as well.

You might think Mr. Steele would really like Hoosier receivers, which seems to be the team’s strongest area. And the magazine does acknowledge the potential with Tandon Doss on its first-team All-Big Ten list and Damarlo Belcher making its third team.

However, overall the magazine rates IU receivers sixth in the Big Ten, with Wisconsin at No. 1 and Ohio State at No. 2.

The Indiana position rated highest by the magazine is at quarterback. Ben Chappell tops a unit rated as the third best behind Ohio State and Michigan.

Chappell completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

The least appreciated units are the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs. They all rank 10th.

This isn’t a surprise. The No. 1 culprit in IU’s 17-year run of mediocrity (brightened only by the 2007 Insight Bowl appearance) is bad defense.

So what does all this mean? For a Cream ‘n Crimson optimist, it means nothing. In the end it’s all about performance. The Hoosiers will have plenty of opportunities to prove critics wrong.

Will they take advantage of those opportunities?

It will start, and very likely end, with defense.


  1. Well I'm trying to be excited... we should appreciate the little things in life more often. I do have running water, none of my kids have been arrested this morning (well they are still asleep), my dog is pretty housebroken, and yes we may not finish last in the Big Ten. Umm.. Go Big Red .. or has that become Wisconsin and Nebraska?

  2. How can you say this is exactly the kind of schedule IU needs. There is absolutely no reason to come to watch Arkansas State and Towson play at IU and all it does is make the failures of the Big ten season more apparent. At least if they played someone decent in the pre-Big Ten season, fans would get to see one more good team.

    IU proved in in 2008-2009 that its bowl trip was a mirage created out of the same kind of schedule. Until we get a new coaching staff, no manner of soft scheduling is going to help them.

    Here's a prediction: 3-1 in non-conference schedule; 0-9 in Big Ten. You're right, IU WON'T finish 10th.

  3. Too much predicated on the past. It is a slow process to build a program. The talent that is flowing in is not full of 5 star talent but many, many succesful teams aren't. IU is taking the approach of Bill Mallory and getting the base of your team from good 3 star talent and eventually getting the diamonds in the rough that the big boys missed. It is a proven approach and one that IU should have stuck with.

  4. Considering the shape of the IU football program when Hep arrived I am very happy with the progress the team has made. I will start to believe in the current coaching staff starts putting up wins to go with the improved recruiting classes.

  5. 0-9 in conference is tough to accomplish. Which loss were you thinking would count twice? Personally, I think we get two conference wins, maybe three.