Monday, November 1, 2010
Indiana Football Needs To Start Winning -- NOW
Indiana loses another football game and grumpy fans grow restless. Bill Lynch must go. A new coach must be named.
Halloween is a very scary time of year.
Athletic director Fred Glass has called all this fire-Lynch talk premature and that there is still much to play for this season (at 4-4, IU can still earn a bowl bid). He’s on record as saying he will let Lynch finish his contract, which ends next season. He’s also been clear he wants to see that the program is headed in the right direction before offering an extension.
A 0-4 Big Ten record and nine straight conference losses does not seem to meet that right-direction criteria, but that’s only part of the picture. Recruiting, academics, doing things the right way, representing the university with class and dignity, and bringing in players who don’t make headlines for all the wrong reasons also are factors. In those areas, Lynch has been excellent.
Yes, he doesn’t land many four- and five-star guys, but then, what IU coach ever did? Indiana will never have a roster full of those guys unless the state starts producing them in abundance.
The Hoosiers aren’t going to go into, say, Texas or Pennsylvania and beat out the Longhorns and the Nittany Lions for superstar talent.
That’s okay. You can win with three-star players if they’re tough enough and coached well enough and are committed to excellence.
It’s about getting guys who are the right fit and developing them to their maximum. It’s about ensuring you have enough quality depth to overcome injuries. It’s about strong preparation and motivation to get guys to play to their potential and, at times, just a little bit more.
As far as the get-a-new-coach talk, IU needs stability in the program. The Hoosiers have had five coaches in the last 14 years and that’s a recipe for disaster, which they have had.
The bottom line is Indiana needs to win. Whether it’s Lynch or somebody else, the losing has to end.
Don't expect that to happen in the next few weeks. The Hoosiers play No. 15 Iowa and No. 7 Wisconsin, probably the Big Ten's most physical teams.
It won't go well for the Cream 'n Crimson.
Still, ending the season against a vulnerable Penn State team and injury ravaged Purdue gives the Hoosiers a chance at bowl eligibility.
Consider this. Next season IU will have a new, inexperienced quarterback. Even with a healthy Darius Willis (no sure thing) it will likely have a weak rushing attack. Why? It’s averaged 3.8 yards a carry or less in six of the last eight seasons, including a Big Ten worst 3.2 average this season.
An inexperienced quarterback combined with no rushing attack equals big trouble no matter who is coaching.
A well-coached team improves during the season and the much-maligned defense has improved. It no longer gives up big plays faster than Charlie Sheen finds trouble. The offense has regressed, mostly because it’s going up against better defenses. A battered offensive line is part of the trouble, but, in truth, even when at full health, it lacks the power and depth necessary for a consistent running game and rock-solid pass protection. That’s bad news for quarterback Ben Chappell, who lacks the mobility to create plays in the manner of, say, Northwestern’s Dan Persa.
Plus, Chappell is battered. He walks into press conferences looking like an 80-year-old man. In Tuesday’s press conference he arrived with a walking boot on his right foot. He said he’s trying to keep it immobilized, that the injury involves his ankle and foot, and that he expects to play Saturday against Iowa.
Given the rugged nature of Iowa’s defense, look for Chappell’s appearance to approach the century mark next week.
Anyway, Lynch still has time to prove he’s the right guy for a long-term contract, but proof comes in winning. Beating Iowa on Saturday at Memorial Stadium would be the perfect place to start.