So what should IU do with its football coaching search?
Media members weren’t on athletic director Fred Glass’ gotta-talk-to list, but when you consider the facts, the media are the best people to talk to. Why? Because we’ve been through so many of these things. We’re FAR more experienced than anybody on Glass’s list.
This will be the fifth football coaching search. Toss in three basketball searches, three athletic director searches, one NCAA investigation and an assortment of basketball controversies and you’ve just about got the wisdom for the ages in what to do, what not to do, and who to hire.
HELPFUL HINT NO. 1: DO NOT hire a guy who has NCAA violations on his resume.
Granted, the media might have a little problem with this let’s-be-discrete stuff, but let’s not quibble over small details.
Glass is a smart guy. He’ll see the light soon enough, but until he does we, as a public service, will offer, free of charge, the kind of top-11, can’t-miss-criteria that will guarantee him getting the right guy for the job.
HELPFUL HINT NO. 2: DO NOT hire a coach who might choke, punch or toss into a garbage can a player, a security guard or an overzealous fan.
First, the next coach has to follow NCAA rules and not seek short-cuts, gray areas and hundred-thousand-dollar handshakes.
Second, he has to recruit good players who are students and care about an education.
Third, he should be a great recruiter. This means he has to be a great evaluator of talent and be able to project where a player will fit in. He has to get some four- and five-star guys, especially those in the state of Indiana.
Fourth, he should have a unique approach to offense and defense that will work well in the Big Ten. For instance, Joe Tiller’s spread offense has left a long-lasting impact in the conference.
Fifth, he should have a connection to the Midwest as far as recruiting goes. In-state connections are nice, but not mandatory.
Sixth, he should have a system for developing players, which means strength building as well as skill development. He has to be able to take a three-star guy and turn him into a four- and five-star guy. He has to be able to get guys to play to their ability, and sometimes just a little bit more.
Seventh, he should be a proven winner, whether as a head coach or an assistant coach or, preferably, both.
Eighth, he should be good at selling his program to fans and students as well as recruits.
Ninth, he should be able to identify and hire outstanding assistant coaches who also are outstanding recruiters.
Tenth, he should view Indiana as a destination and not a steppingstone, so that if he is successful, he won’t bolt for a higher-profile program. Ideally, he would be young enough to have the job for 15 to 20 years, just about the time Joe Paterno retires to run the eight-team Victoria’s Secret College Football Playoff.
Finally, and this is most important, he should be a guy who tells the media everything we want to know when we want to know it.
Anyway, there are two ways to conduct a search. We’ll call it the Michigan Way and the Ohio State Way.
In the Michigan Way, you go for style and pizazz and charisma. Yeah, the WOW, big-name hire. You go for Rich Rodriguez and his state-of-the-art spread attack that generates points faster than you can ask, Whatever happened to Denard Robinson’s Heisman hopes? You hire a guy who is the offensive and defensive opposite of what you’ve had so much success with for the last half a century. And then you lose like you’ve never lost before, with a NCAA glitch added just for fun.
In the Ohio State Way, you hire a guy who has never been a head coach at the NCAA Division I-A level before, a guy so seemingly bland he should be teaching accounting at some obscure school. Ohio State officials were big-time ripped for choosing the little-known Jim Tressell over big names. But they liked the fact he had won four NCAA Division I-AA national titles at Youngstown State, had spent a couple of years as an Ohio State assistant, had a ton of state of Ohio contacts, and had a fundamentally solid coaching background thanks to a father who was a small college coach. And then you win a national championship and a bunch of Big Ten titles, and dominate Michigan, just for fun.
Twenty-seven men have coached the Hoosiers. Six have had winning records, none since Bo McMillin retired in 1947. Yeah, you bet this job is a challenge, but then, so is every job worth having.
In the end, it's about getting the right fit for Indiana. Can Glass find it? That's the biggest question of all, and one that won't be answered for a couple of years.