Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Signs Of The IU Football Times

So what do we make of Indiana’s gut-wrenching 18-13 football loss to No. 15 Iowa? Is it just a continuation of a century plus of program misery or a sign that maybe, just maybe, things are about to get better?

Let’s take a look.

With four minutes left, IU led 13-12. It could have won with defense or offense. In a unique twist, it lost with both.

Yeah, maybe it’s time to start watching chess.

First, the defense, which played so solidly for 56 minutes you’d have sworn somebody slipped in a bunch of Ohio State Buckeyes in disguise, fell totally apart.

In three plays and like 50 seconds it gave up 87 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. Iowa quarterback Rick Stanzi had all the time he needed to find wide open receivers. This isn’t a surprise. The defense is known for melting down under pressure against the Hawkeyes. See last year’s 28-0 Iowa fourth quarter as a prime example.

The silver lining in such a fast drive was that it gave IU plenty of time to mount its own game-winning drive. Quarterback Ben Chappell took his usual beating and still kept finding and hitting open receivers. It was a clutch display and it took the Hoosiers to the cusp of victory.

It was fourth-and-10 with basically 30 seconds left and IU 18 yards away from the end zone. During a timeout offensive coordinator Matt Canada called a play in which receiver Damarlo Belcher would end up in the middle of the end zone. The route would take a while to run, which meant the offensive line would have to hold up and Chappell would have to stand firm and, more than likely, take more punishment.

Chappell waited as long as he could and threw to a wide-open Belcher in the end zone. He had to throw it high enough to clear Iowa linebackers who had tortured him all game. He did.

In the end, all Belcher had to do was what he’s done a gazillion times before. He’s 6-5 and perfectly built to make leaping catches in the end zone.

So, in typical here-we-go-again IU fashion, he dropped the pass and Indiana once again found heartbreak.

If he made that catch, or if the defense had gotten one last stop, all the talk about Bill Lynch not getting the final year of his contract would have become irrelevant.


Who knows?

Has there ever been a program in the history of any sport, any where, any time that so consistently cannot make the one play needed for victory?

The answer is no.

So fans scream for a new coach, pushing the concept that Indiana needs to hire a BIG NAME, as if that is all it would take, or even happen. IU doesn’t have the money to land a BIG NAME even if a BIG NAME wanted to come, so forget about it.

A BIG NAME wants to be at a school that can consistently contend for a national championship. That's not Indiana. They'll also want a salary four to six times what Lynch gets. IU doesn't have it. Its annual football budget is around $6 million. Schools such as Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan have football budgets around $30 million or more. They make in one home game almost as much as IU budgets for its entire season. It's no contest.

Big Ten Network money is crucial to funding the other 21 sports, so unless athletic director Fred Glass wants to gut the other programs or cut some, which he doesn't, it's not available. Yes, a bunch of wealthy donors could commit to a $2 million-a-year-plus salary, but again, a BIG NAME would demand a big commitment the Hoosiers, with a 52,000-seat stadium, could never meet.

Lynch is still the coach and Glass absolutely doesn’t want to fire him. He has said Lynch will get the final year of his contract to turn things around. Lynch is poised to get one of the program’s best recruiting classes in a generation and Glass doesn’t want to screw that up. But he needs something more than heartbreaking near-misses and wins over bad teams to show the program is making progress and heading in the right direction.

Figure that “more” won’t happen next Saturday when the Hoosiers travel to Wisconsin. But Penn State and Purdue are vulnerable. IU can win both, and should win at least one. Close won't cut it.

Through it all consider that the Hoosiers' much-maligned defense has improved a lot, which is the sign of good coaching. The offense did well against one of the nation’s best defenses. That, too, is a sign of good coaching.

As we’ve said before, in every off-field criteria, Lynch and his staff have excelled. But winning matters most, and when you’re 0-5 in the Big Ten, when you’ve won just two of your last 19 conference games, that’s not good enough.

You don’t need a sign to tell you that.


  1. They certainty have the money, the Big Ten Network sends them six million plus each year.

  2. Mr. DiPrimio,

    For several years you and others continue to say a good coach won't make a difference, we dont have the money anyway, and well our expectations are too high. I disagree. We are one of the largest public universities in the world and we can't field a decent football team. That is impossible to believe. We have great academics, campus, facilities, and sports. Yet somehow we all settle for a mediocre ( I am being kind) football program. This is unacceptable. We should strive to be best in the big ten, as far fetched as that sounds. And you and your low expectations and excuses for Bill Lynch are a major part of the problem. Quit making excuses and you like every alumni will see that we need a top tier coach. You will say we can't afford that. Really? We just spent $55milllion to close the north end of the stadium. I think we can pay somone, and there are lots of great coaches available, 2-4million a year to build IU into a juggernaut. BTW Fred Glass already said he was willing to pay market for such a coach. Also, because our football program sucks we are at a $40million dollar per year disadvantage to OSU. Similar to other B10 teams. Thus, hiring a good coach winning games and being better not only pays for a better coach but levels the playing field. Lastly, another year of Bill Lynch...hmm... At $5per seat for a football game at IU we can't fill half our stadium and you think students and alumni will want more of 2-19 inbig ten play, all be it with wins against those powerhouse like Townson, Arkansas State and WKU...yeah right! You are in one word a moron and I feel cheated to have wasted even a few moments of my life spent reading the (insert explitive) you wrote. FIRE BILL LYNCH! If not, the FIRE FRED GLASS!

  3. Pete, I'm curious why you say IU doesn't have the money to hire a big name coach. With revenue sharing from the Big Ten Network, we're on a pretty even playing field with the rest of the conference. Of course we lack with # of ticket sales, cost of tickets, concessions and merchandise. This is a typical chicken and egg scenario. Imagine conducting the right coaching search, finding your man and then committing to the $. Due to this let's say he wins, put's 10,000 more people in the stands at only $30 each and then allows all ticket sales to go up only $10, still considerably less than other teams charge. Here's the math:

    10,000 x $20 x 6 games = $1,200,000 +
    55,000 x $10 x 6 games = $3,300,000

    That's a total of $4,500,000, not to mention increased concessions and merchandise. The reality is this is conservative. Ticket prices would go up more and we should be able to get more than 55,000 people in the stands. If we won we could eventually pack in the current facility and probably get 60,000+. Close in the south end-zone for even more capacity.

    I've always loved reading your blog, but think you really need to contemplate this. We are not doing IU any favors by going after 2nd tier coaches. We need a winning coach AND staff. IU needs to be willing to pony up the money, but it will pay for itself if they do.

  4. IU also has expenses -even buying calls from referees at the 20% reduced rate when we are already down by 20 points takes its toll. That's a joke but football is expensive.

    IU should organize fans and alums to go door to door for support and donations each year. At Xmas there should fat santas in Red suits ringing bells in department stores collecting spare change or recruiting.

    There should be specials inside the stores - "buy a football and get a certificate that allows you walk-on with a guarantee if you can walk- you get to start in at least one game" 10% of the sales proceeds going to IU Athletics.

    I could think of more.. but you probably don't want me to LOL

  5. Sorry, Pete, but your argument is bogus. The reason that IU "doesn't have" the money to build a solid football program is because it has refused to invest in the program for decades. For a school of IU's size to let this happen is an insult to both fans and alumni alike. If Northwestern can make itself consistently competitive, so can IU. It is simply a matter of commitment. The bigger question is not whether or not the money is there, but rather how much the administration really cares.

  6. Couldn't agree more with what has been said. The investment $ in a top notch staff would repay itself easily with a winning team. The math on the value of the empty seats, concessions, parking, merchandise, etc. is a no brainer.

  7. Pete, maybe you can give us your thoughts on next year's team soon? There seems to be a bunch of seniors on this team in key positions. I don't see how next year we can field a better team than what we have now. Do you think either Belcher or Doss is eyeing the NFL after this season? I really believe we will win less next year with the talent Lynch has assembled.

    Bart Brown
    Class of 1986

  8. It is ironic that the mantra for this year's IU football team was "FINISH" and again it was something that they could not manage to do. The ease in which Iowa scored their last touchdown, and the lack of the ability to score at the end fits the Lynch era football performance to a T.

    I also must say that I don't believe that we need to get a Urban Meyer or Nick Saban to come to IU. Do I have the man in mind that will bring football success to IU? Admittedly no. But I do know that it isn't Bill Lynch.

  9. Keep up the great work, Pete! You are 100% correct. IU will NEVER pony up the money for a BIG NAME Football Coach! And they will certainly never pony up the money for BIG NAME Offensive and Defensive Coordinators either. Those positions are crucial.
    But, Pete, you left one important point out even IF IU DID PONY UP THE REQUIRED MONEY!...
    WHO IS GOING TO CONDUCT THE INTERVIEWS ON BEHALF OF IU??? There isn't anyone within a 50 mile radius of Bloomington that has a CLUE what big-time football is all about! How could they? They've never been around winning football before!
    WHAT A JOKE!!!
    Pack it in, IU Fans! Do something else with your in the yard, go to a movie, or play with the kids.
    126 Years of INCOMPETENCE and PATHETIC PLAY supports my argument.

  10. If that is what it takes then GUT THE NON REVENUE PRODUCING PROGRAMS! If they have to be non-female programs to avoid those stupid rules about gender equity in college athletics then so be it. It is like running a business. If you don't produce then you either make changes or drop that part of your business altogether.

    I am tired of being a laughing stock of every other team including MAC teams and those FBS teams we struggle to beat yearly. Listening to U of L and UK fans talk about how they are getting better with good coaches makes me sick.

    Basketball and a few other sports where IU produces winners and reasonable return on investment should be exempt from cuts but otherwise lets get one thing straight. If IU EVER begins to win football games consistently they will make more than enough money to pay back those other sports. My friends were shocked to see IU give Iowa all it could handle for 3 quarters. I said until the game is over I will not believe we can win. I was proven right.

  11. South Florida, Louisville, Fresno State, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, East Carolina, Central Florida, Tulsa, North Carolina State, Hawaii, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Colorado State, San Diego State, Wyoming, Navy, Northwestern, New Mexico, Houston and Army all show more of a commitment than Indiana to football because they all pay their head coach more.

  12. So, using the argument you have said, IU isn't capable of having a big time Big Ten program due to lack of money. Assuming this is true, then, why should IU remain in the Big Ten? If IU can't compete at this level, why not move on to a situation where IU can compete? Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, IU is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, IU doesn't have the money for about Cook Hall? Mellencamp facility, where did the money come for those projects? Oh, it came from donors. IU couldn't have taken just a little bit and put it toward the football program. Moreover, why did IU have a $55 million addition to the north end of the stadium if it isn't able to compete? IU can do better than it is now. Lynch didn't win at Ball State, and there's no reason to believe he is going to be a miracle worker in the final three games. IU can do better in football if it is willing to make a commitment to get the right staff in place. Otherwise, why bother staying the in Big Ten?

  13. All you have to do is look at Iowa State and what Paul Rhodes has done in two short seasons... beat Nebraska at Neb last year and Texas at Texas this year. He's a 'hometown' Iowan and Indiana needs to find a highly motivated 'hometown' guy from Indiana that wants the job and will stay through time to build the program. He's out there somewhere, just make up your mind to cut Lynch loose.