Thursday, February 10, 2011
Memo to IU Football – Pick Coaches Who WANT To Be There
It’s a joke, right? Somebody is playing with the Hoosier Nation.
There is no way, NO WAY, IU loses a fourth assistant football coach in less than two months.
And yet, here it is. Jemal Singleton, who was just hired to be the Hoosiers’ running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, is heading to Oklahoma State to coach, well, who cares. He’s leaving the Hoosiers after barely having time to have eaten a meal in Bloomington.
The actual time is eight days, not that we’re counting.
Singleton joins Brent Pease (returned to Boise State), Corey Raymond to Nebraska and Jerry Montgomery to Michigan as assistants who have moved on fast.
That leads to the obvious question -- who’s next?
Sure, you can put another spin on this that new coach Kevin Wilson brings in guys other schools wants, so at least he’s hiring good coaches. Hopefully he’s this good in recognizing player talent.
But the retention rate stinks. There's no way to know if this is unprecedented, but it's certainly unusual.
Maybe Wilson picks guys who can’t honor their word. Or, maybe he’s so demanding that guys run for safety before the pressure really ratchets up.
At some point you start wondering if maybe the assistant coaches who are staying aren’t that good. Otherwise, they’d have left, too.
Perception becomes reality and when you have coaches bolting before they’ve even coached a practice, it’s a huge negative for a program trying to prove its Big Ten and national relevance.
Here’s the deal. Wilson can’t win at IU unless he gets guys who WANT to be at Indiana, who appreciate what the university has to offer. That’s true of players as well as coaches. You need guys who are are loyal to the program; passionate about it; committed to it. If you get coaches who can’t wait to go somewhere else, whether that’s in a week or a month or a year, you’re in trouble.
IU needs continuity in its head coach. It also needs continuity in its staff. That’s crucial for recruiting and for developing players already in the program. Heck, it's crucial for team morale. What are the players supposed to think when coaches keep running out on them.
Let’s repeat this -- the Hoosiers need good coaches who want to be at Indiana. It’s that simple.
But, as is true of so many things around IU athletics these days, nothing is simple.
Guys will leave for better offers and opportunities (it’s part of the profession), but it’s important to make Indiana a destination program and not just a stop over to somewhere else.
Sure, the Hoosiers have struggled in football over the years, but this looms as an unwanted first. It can’t continue. IU athletic director Fred Glass told the Bloomington Herald Times he’s “tired” of it, but that he doesn’t see a bigger problem.
Still, this wasn’t what school officials meant when referring to a new era in Indiana football.
Former coach Bill Lynch took heat about the quality of his staff, but at least those guys stuck around.
Before Wilson hires a new running backs coach, or any other coach from now on, he needs to make sure the guy is committed. If he’s not, move on. In fact, Wilson should have that conversation with the remaining assistant coaches. This revolving door stuff is, to be diplomatic, not helpful. To be frank, it’s a disaster and an embarrassment. It has to stop.
It has to stop now.