Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Ideas Drive Indiana Athletic Director
Fred Glass does not wait for results, he seeks them, seizes them, savors them. He’s been Indiana’s athletic director just over a year and a half now and the ideas come with machine-gun frequency.
Here’s a warning for the prune-juice drinking crowd: the IU band is about to get really, really loud.
Let other ADs wear suit and ties. Glass is a red IU t-shirt kind of guy whose No. 1 priority is to turn Indiana football weekends into must-attend events for 52,000 or so people. So he worries about traffic and the disruption soon-to-begin construction on the by-pass near Memorial Stadium will have on attendance. He pays attention to the quality of the hotdogs, the friendliness of the stadium staff, the excitement of the atmosphere and the environmental quality of the experience.
He spent $2 million on a rock-your-world scoreboard and kept prices for children under 18 and IU students at $5. He’s started a bike valet service where fans can ride bicycles to the stadium, have them parked and get them after games. Concession utensils will be biodegradable and, yes, edible.
The student section has been renamed “The Quarry,” which is a play on “The Rock” concept started by former coach Terry Hoeppner. New stadium murals depict large limestone rocks. Glass will provide a 20-foot-high replica of a quarry rig. At the top will be a horn that will sound on every Hoosier big play.
“This may be my favorite thing this year,” Glass said.
After head home third quarter IU cheerleaders will perform the flag routine accompanied by the William Tell Overature normally found at Hoosier basketball games (“It’s gotta be bigger and louder and wilder because of the sign of the venue,” Glass said).
Speaking of louder, Glass said he’ll utilize the new Big Ten rule that allows schools to amplify the band sound. This could cause a problem given that last year grumpy fans griped about the loud music playing over the Memorial Stadium loudspeakers.
“We’re going to take advantage of that,” Glass said.
Glass’s ideas work. Last year IU drew 41,833, about 10,000 more than the previous year and one of the biggest jumps in the country, which was impressive for a 4-8 team. It was still about 10,000 less than capacity and Glass understands that the only way to sell those remaining seats is to consistently win.
“If we win some nonconference games and we beat Michigan,” he said, “Then I think this thing will really catch fire.”
That, in the end, is the bottom line.