Hoosier Deep Throat finally called.
“Where were you when I needed a scoop a couple of days ago?” I asked.
“Save the lecture,” he said. “We need to talk.”
I arrived at the parking garage by the Wells Library. It was cold enough to freeze DNA. It was just past midnight and nobody was out but me and a shadowy figure shivering in a dark corner next to a small pile of plowed ice.
“Maybe you should have dressed warmer,” I said. “Or maybe we could have done this at Nick’s.”
I was answered by the glowing end of a cigarette. I noticed the garage floor was littered with crushed cigarette butts. Hoosier Deep Throat had been here a while.
“Chain smoking doesn’t become you,” I said.
“I don’t remember asking for your opinion,” he said, biting off the words as if they were gristle.
“You seem grumpy. What’s wrong? Fred Glass got his man. It’s Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Barring something unforeseen, like a background checking finding he's a secret Boilermaker, it should be announced in a few hours. You should be excited. Now you can go back to whatever it is you do until the next Hoosier drama begins.”
Another cigarette hit the concrete. A large tennis shoe emerged from the shadows to grind it out. A brief flash of light showed nothing but the backside of a baseball cap. He’d lit another cigarette.
“You don’t like the Oklahoma offensive coordinator?” I asked. “He’s got impressive credentials.”
“So did every coach IU has ever hired. Look at how it always ends.”
“What’s wrong? Why all the negativity?”
Hoosier Deep Throat hesitated. “This guy hasn't been a head coach,” he said at last. “IU tried that with Cam Cameron and Sam Wyche. It didn’t work.”
“Wilson might be different. Everybody has to start sometime. Joe Paterno had never been a head coach before he got the Penn State job. That turned out pretty well."
Hoosier Deep Throat paced. His shoes squeaked on the ice-covered floor. Or was it his joints?
“I keep coming back to the same thought,” he said. “If Indiana is going to win, it’s got to play good defense. It’s got to be at least average in the Big Ten every year, and some years better than that. It hasn’t been good on defense since cell phones were a luxury instead of a necessity.”
“And your point is?”
“What does this guy know about defense?”
A car rumbled by, startling both of us. “Relax," I said. "His key is hiring good defensive coaches. Make that good assistant coaches, period. It sounds like IU will supply the money for that. If that happens, IU will be fine, because his offenses can score. The Sooners set an NCAA record with over 700 points two years ago.”
Hoosier Deep Throat crushed out another cigarette.
“Anybody can score when you have Sam Bradford at quarterback,” he said. “Last I looked, Sam wasn’t on the roster.”
“No, he’s not, but Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker are. And the Hoosiers have a pretty good quarterback commitment in Tre Roberson out of Indianapolis. Plus, they still have a good group of receivers.”
Hoosier Deep Throat lit another cigarette.
“IU can’t screw this up,” he said. “There’s been too much losing for too long. It’s time to get this right. Northwestern wins, for goodness sakes. Temple wins. Temple!If those guys can do it, why can’t the Hoosiers?”
And then he was gone and the question hung in the air like old cigarette smoke.
Why can’t the Hoosiers?