Saturday, February 19, 2011
Phasing In Indiana Football, Wilson Style
Sleeping in isn’t part of the Kevin Wilson build-a-football-program plan. His Hoosiers have 5:45 a.m. workouts designed to steel them for what is to come.
“They’re rocking and rolling five days a week,” he said.
Wilson rolled into a media session Saturday evening shortly before Indiana stunk up Assembly Hall in a 70-64 basketball defeat to Northwestern. It was sort of a state-of-the-program session that was strong on generalities given basically all the Hoosiers can do right now is condition, lift and eat.
Speaking of eating, IU is hiring a nutritionist to ensure the players are eating healthy enough to maximize all their work. Figure fruits and vegetables are in, crème filled donuts are out.
Nobody said winning football was finger-lickin’ good.
Indiana also is in the process of hiring a couple more strength coaches to reach the NCAA maximum of five.
You see, Wilson said, Indiana’s administration really is serious about having a winning football program. You can’t have a Cadillac team with a Focus budget. The administration is committed and the results will show it.
A cell phone rang from the assembled media and Wilson quipped it was serial caller Kelvin Sampson. It was not (although we never actually heard the caller), but it was a humorous moment for a here-are-the-facts setting. Wilson remains an all-business guy, but more and more as he gets comfortable in this head coaching role, his personality emerges.
But that misses the main point which is all about turning the Hoosiers into winners fast. Let somebody else build or rebuild or restore. For Wilson, it’s about winning now. He’s pushing to improve the conditioning level and the passion it will take to turn the Hoosiers into consistent winners.
“As far as gauging where we are, they’re buying what we’re selling,” he said. “They’re drinking our Koolade. I like that.”
He likes the fact the team has speed, which is something that can be trained and developed. Speed, like Einstein’s most famous theory, is relative. A 4.7-second 40-yard dash time in the first quarter might not turn heads. That same time in the fourth quarter just might. Like wise if a 4.6 time in the first quarter fades to a 4.9 time in the fourth, that’s bad.
“You can develop it,” Wilson said. “We need to recruit it.”
He’s in Phase 1 of a 4-Phase process (winter conditioning, spring ball, voluntary summer workouts, preseason camp) and he’s eager for spring practice when football can actually enter the equation.
But first he is once again looking for an assistant coach and he insists this one will stick, that he isn’t worried just because four assistants left shortly after being hired, that it’s a sign of the times and that the moves were in their best interests. He said they were quality coaches and he will hire another one.
“I’m not one to hire buddies,” he said. “I think we put together a strong staff. That’s evident based on where they went. Some are up-and-coming young coaches.”
All that translates well, but the No. 1 priority is building belief -- in the system, the approach, the coaches, the potential. IU has basically spent more than a century proving its football futility. That can change. It has to change and it starts with perception.
“We’re just trying to get them to have a good attitude,” Wilson said. “There doesn’t seem to be a good attitude internally or externally. It’s about how we’re perceived. How we perceive ourselves. It’s the way you approach work in June and July when it’s voluntary. Somebody is voluntarily winning and losing. We’re moving the way winners do.”
And if some sleep gets lost along the way, so be it.