Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top of the Basketball Heap -- Is IU's Class of 2012 Really No. 1?

Is Indiana’s Class of 2012 the nation’s No. 1 group of basketball recruits?

Darn right, some will say. The class of point guard Yogi Ferrell, combo guard Ron Patterson, small forward Jeremy Hollowell, power forward Hanner Perea and center Peter Jurkin has every position covered, with talent to spare.

And yet, Bob Gibbons says, that might be jumping the gun.

Gibbons has been evaluating recruits for 32 years, which basically makes him the elder statesman of the profession. He’s seen it all more than once as the publisher of All-Star Sports. And while he appreciates the talent Hoosier coach Tom Crean has assembled in that class, he’s not quite ready to annoit it as the best.

“It’s certainly one of the top classes,” he says. “It’s too early, at this point in time, to say it’s No. 1. But just in terms of sheer numbers and talent level, you could make a strong case for them being No. 1.”

As far as who is the best recruit in IU’s class, most rankings list the high-jumping athletic Perea. Not so fast, Gibbons says. Ferrell has an upside that can’t be ignored.

“He’s going to be an immediate impact player. I think he’s their top-rated recruit in this class.”

Gibbons had more to say about IU’s recruiting under Crean, and we’ll address that in an upcoming blog.


Brace yourself for another July of basketball recruiting adventure. Coming next week to Indianapolis is the second annual adidas Invitational Class that features some of the top high school talent in the country. It runs July 6-9 at nine different sites around the city. That includes North Central High School, Westfield High School, Park Tudor High School and the Fishers’ Fieldhouse.

More than 400 college coaches showed up to watch and be seen, but not talk. They can’t talk to players at any of the July travel basketball events.

They will, however, take as much advantage as they can of the two 10-day windows to watch players in action. Those windows are July 6-15 and July 22-31. It’s a great way for them to see recruits play against elite competition.


Does Athlon Magazine have it in for Indiana University, or does it write the truth?

You be the judge.

The magazine has come out with its annual college football previous issue. It includes an analysis of the Big Ten and the Hoosiers.

It rates every Big Ten team in terms of seven key positions –- quarterback, running back, wide receiver/tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and defensive back.

IU does not come off well. It is listed last at quarterback, running back, offensive line and defensive back. It is 11th at defensive line. It is rated decent only at receiver, with a No. 6 rating.

Ohio State has no position lower than a No. 5, which is at receiver. It should be noted the magazine’s deadline came before quarterback Terrell Pryor left the program and turned pro.

Anyway, is this an accurate reflection of the Hoosiers’ prospects under new coach Kevin Wilson? History suggests yes, but history doesn’t determine the future. Performance does. The Hoosiers do have talent. Not national championship-caliber skill, but enough to win with. Can Wilson maximize it?

We’ll know in about five months.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hoosier Hitman an All-America Hit: Playin' The Pros

It's good to be Alex Dickerson these days. He just made All-America baseball honors for the season straight season, courtesy of the American Baseball Coaches Association, which followed his third-round selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That’s the CONTENDING Pittsburgh Pirates, by the way. The organization that hasn’t won since the first George Bush was president has a winning record and a shot at a division title.

Anyway, Dickerson is reaping the benefits of a junior season in which he led the Hoosiers in hitting (.367), home runs (9), runs batted in (49), slugging percentage (.540) and on-base percentage (.440). That follows a sophomore year in which he won the Big Ten triple crown for average, home runs and RBIs.

Dickerson made the team as a designated hitter. He’s one of only two Big Ten players to make it. The other was Michigan State first baseman Jeff Holm.

Dickerson gives IU four straight years with at least one All-America. Josh Phegley was honored in 2008 and 2009. Eric Arnett made it in 2009.

Dickerson, by the way, is giving up his final year at IU to turn pro and join the Pirates.


Kevin Wilson has a lot going on these days without worrying about whether college athletes should be paid.

Wilson is trying to produce a Hoosier football winner in his Cream 'n Crimson debut coaching season, which will start in a couple of months. Yeah, the season really is that close.

Anyway, Wilson has enough challenges on his plate so when Hoosier Hoopla showed up to ask him, in our best “A Few Good Men” impression, if he’d ordered the Code Red –- sorry -– if he had any thoughts on paying athletes, he passed.

“I’m a first-year head coach trying to figure out who to play and who to recruit and what we need to do to win,” he said. “I’m not politically cued into those things. I don’t want to be. I don’t have a voice worth listening to. That’s for the administrators and the presidents.

“There’s a lot of money going into college athletics, but there are so many athlete departments that are financially strapped. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a strong opinion for or against.”


How good is it that IU basketball players get to play with pros this summer?

Yes, the Hoosiers' development gets a boost thanks to the Indy Pro-Am Summer League. What is that? Basically, it’s a six-week league that allows college players from Indiana to play against pros, both from overseas and the NBA. For instance, the Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson is in the league.

Will Sheehey, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Tom Pritchard and Matt Roth are participating for Indiana. Christian Watford will play, but he’s tied up with the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Chicago.

The league runs every Tuesday and Thursday night at IUPUI.

In theory, the better the competition, the better and faster the improvement. That's exactly what the Hoosiers need, because after three straight 20-loss seasons, it's time to put the victory -- and the fun -- back in the program.


Former IU track standout Danielle Carruthers is going to South Korea. Why is that noteworthy? Because that’s the site of the world track championships.

Carruthers made it to the world championships in the 100-meter hurdles by finishing second at the USA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. She had the fastest semifinal time with a wind-aided 12.37 seconds, then took second in the finals in 12.59. That was .09 behind winner Kellie Wells.

Monday, June 27, 2011

IU Basketball Buzz – ‘Slam Dunk’ For Women; IU Gets Tight End; Watford at Durant Camp

Are you like us? Were you so worried about an asteroid the size of a tour bus hitting the earth that you forgot, for just a second, about what’s really important:

How is Cody Zeller doing at IU so far?

Perfectly fine, as far as we can tell.

Anyway, there is more to Hoosier basketball than Zeller. So you know, Felisha Legette-Jack is determined to get the women’s basketball program to Big Ten title contention. The Hoosiers coach is bringing in a solid recruiting class to get that done, but she isn’t stopping there. She wants the best teachers and recruiters she can get.

She had some coaching staff holes to fill and with one of them she brought in Charlene Thomas-Swinson. This is significant because Thomas-Swinson is a former head coach. She ran the St. John’s program from 1998-99 and the Tulsa program for the last six years. She also was an assistant coach at Florida and Auburn.

Thomas-Swinson also was an assistant coach in the WNBA for four years.

“We’re excited to have someone of Charlene Thomas-Swinson’s caliber,” Legette-Jack said in a university release. She played and coached at the highest level, coached in the SEC, coached in the Big East and Conference USA. She’s a perfect addition to our basketball family.”

There’s a reason why Thomas-Swinson was available and it has to do a 5-20 record at Tulsa last year. That wiped out what was left of the momentum from her 26-6 Tulsa debut season in 2006 that included Conference USA championships and a first-round NCAA tourney win over fifth-seeded North Carolina State.

No matter. Every coach, if you stay in the profession long enough, endures tough times –- including getting fired. Her experience and success (she also was a stanout player for Auburn and has appeared in seven NCAA tourneys and one WNBA playoff) suggest that she will have a major impact for the Hoosiers. That’s why Legette-Jack called the hiring a “slam dunk.”

Oh, in case you were wondering, the asteroid missed the earth.


IU coach Kevin Wilson's 2012 commitment list reached nine with Ohio tight end Tanner Kearns chosing the Hoosiers.

Kearns is a multi-sport athlete, which is becoming a rarity in this age of specialization. He also plays basketball and track. He was a high jumper (he has a 36-inch vertical jump at 6-5 and 225 pounds) and ran the 400 meters.

You can do an awful lot with a guy that big and mobile, and Wilson has. He had three of his Oklahoma tight ends make it to the NFL, including first-round pick Jermaine Greshman, who earned All-America honors after catching 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 TDS in his last college season.

Cincinnati, Air Force, Kent State, Temple, Buffalo, Central Michigan and Toledo also had offered Kearns. He picked IU after going to two Hoosier camps this month.


Can Christian Watford kick Kevin Durant’s you-know-what on a basketball court? Will the Indiana junior get a chance? How does he stack up with standouts such as North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Kentucky’s Darius Miller, Terrance Jones and Doron Lamb? And is Duke stud freshman Austin Rivers -- yes, that’s Jeremiah River’s younger brother and Doc Rivers’ son -- as good as advertised?

Some of those questions might get answered during the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Chicago.

You have to be invited to the three-day camp and Watford was along with those other acclaimed college players.

Only two of those players were measured with wingspans of at least 7 feet. Watford was one at 7-foot even. Kentucky’s Jones was the other at 7-foot-2.

Gary Harris of Hamilton Southeastern is at the camp as well. Perhaps Watford will get a chance to convince him that Indiana is the perfect school for him.


No matter what happens, the best of this camp get invited to next month’s LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oladipo And China; Football Recruiting Surge Continues

Victor Oladipo is not a point guard, certainly not in this stage of his Indiana basketball career. Did playing nine games in China accelerate his growth in that area? Not exactly, but it did enable the sophomore to fine tune the skills he has. Yes, that includes dunking. The 6-4 Oladipo has some serious hops and he might as well show it off from time to time.

So basically during every halftime of every game in China, Oladipo and some of his Reach USA teammates put on a dunk competition. Oladipo more than held his own.

“I just tried to give something to the people they haven’t seen before, and they really liked it. It was fun.”

Fun was good, but there was a serious side to the experience. The goal is to ensure Oladipo is developed enough to make a huge impact in the upcoming Hoosier season, which should be a return to IU’s winning ways.

Oladipo said the biggest thing he got from the trip was being a leader.

“You know, making the right play, doing whatever it takes for my team to win. Shooting a little bit more and just trying to get my teammates involved.”

Oladipo had always wanted to visit a foreign country. In fact, his father pushed for a China trip during one summer while Victor was in high school. It didn’t work out then, but did earlier this month.

The USA team went 6-2-1 on the tour, and got to experience a different style of play and officiating.

“It is really different,” Oladipo said. “They move a lot. They backdoor cut to the basket a lot. They screen a lot. It helped me on defense – getting over screens and helped with conditioning and making sure my head is on the swivel. Just helping with my all-around game.”

The better Oladipo’s game is, the better Hoosier prospects are because he is going to have a signifant role, probably off the bench.


It looks like IU football coach Kevin Wilson’s June recruiting roll hasn’t slowed down. Reports are out that Ohio tight end Tanner Kearns has committed. That gives the Hoosiers nine for the Class of 2012 and seven in the last week.

The 6-5, 225-pound Kearns, like most of these commitments, picked the Hoosiers after attending an IU summer camp. He got to work with the coaches, particularly Wilson, who takes a hands-on approach to these things as he does with so many things in the program.

The Hoosiers beat out Cincinnati, Kent State, Buffalo, Toledo, Temple, Air Force and Central Michigan. Yes, these aren’t football juggernauts, but Kearns also was drawing interest from Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State. That should tell you something the kid’s potential.

Still, Kearns is not a five-star recruit. None of the nine commitments are. Five of them are three-star prospects.

As for how this class will be regarded compared to others in the Big Ten, as one reader has asked, it’s too early to tell. The bigger key is how they develop when they arrive in Bloomington. Some of that is on them, some on Wilson and his staff.

But if Wilson is to win consistently at IU, development has to be a strong point.


High school basketball briefly -– make that very briefly –- is making an appearance this weekend in Indianapolis as part of the two-day USSFA/Indiana Boys Basketball Shootout. The event features 37 high school teams from central Indiana battling at three area high schools.

Gary Harris played for Hamilton Southeastern on Saturday, then headed to Chicago for the Kevin Durant Skills Camp. Harris remains undecided even as IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Louisville, among others, recruit this Class of 2012 standout hard.

There’s no such suspense around Jeremy Hollowell. The Lawrence Central star is part of the Hoosiers’ top-ranked Class of 2012. He scored a combined 45 points in a pair of Saturday victories over Indianapolis Brebeuf and Scecina.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wilson’s Football Recruiting Judgment Paying Off For IU

Before we get to Kevin Wilson’s sudden football recruiting burst (see what summer camp season can do), consider what he wants in a recruit.

“The hardest thing to judge is a guy’s attitude and the ability to work hard, the talent of working hard,” Wilson said. “That’s a unique skill. It’s a skill we need to embrace. It’s also the hardest thing to measure.

“You can see if a guy is tall or can jump high or is fast or hits hard. Those things are obvious. It’s the hidden talents that we’re looking for. You hope you’re getting a good-character kid who has discipline. A do-the-right-thing kind of guy. A guy coming from structure, who is used to working hard and doing things right. How do we judge that? There’s no stop watch for that.”

That’s why coaches like to wait until they bring in a recruit to a summer camp, where they can work with him and see how he handles fatigue and adversity and, yes, coaching. They can get a feel for what kind of teammate he will be. Is he high, low or no maintenance?

IU coaches have done that the last few weeks with their camps and, the results are paying off.

A few weeks ago the Hoosiers had zero commitments for the Class of 2012.

Now they have eight, and more are on the way.

IU got four commitments in the last 24 hours, including two from Indianapolis Warren Central with linebacker Jordan Wallace and receiver Kevin Davis. Both are three-star players.

Wallace is solid against the run or pass. Davis has big-play potential. IU needs all of that, and more.

Plus, Warren Central is a strong, successful program and Wilson likes guys with winning backgrounds.

Also newly committed are Indianapolis Ben Davis receiver Caleb Cornett and Illinois linebacker Mike Cotton.

Cornett, a lifetime IU fan, picked the Hoosiers ahead of Cincinnati, Ball State, Western Michigan, Toledo and a whole bunch more.

Cotton totaled 81 tackles and nine sacks last season.

They followed previous commitments from from three three-star Ohio linebacker Nick Mangieri, Ohio defensive back Dawson Fletcher, Ohio defensive tackle Alex Todd and three-star Illinois offensive lineman Dan Feeney.

Mangieri is rated No. 33 at his positon in the Class of 2012. Feeney is at No. 44. Davis is at No. 75.

Players can’t sign official national letters of intent until February.


Congratulations to and Jeff Rabjohns. Jeff will cover the Hoosiers for and it’s a great hire. Jeff, formerly of the Indianapolis Star, brings a ton of experience and contacts.

It also gets Jeff far, far away from Gannett, the parent company of The Indy Star and a bunch of other newspapers, and that’s a good thing. Gannett officials treat employees like broken-down chairs. Journalistic quality isn’t a priority. Cutting people so upper management can get mega-million dollar bonuses and raises is.

Jeff is at a much better place. Both he and will benefit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

China On Hulls' Mind; IU Football Recruiting

What would you do if you had just two hours to spend on the Great Wall of China?

For Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo, it was a race to the top.

“We made it to the highest point of the wall that we were able to get to and it took us an hour and a half because the stairs were so steep,” Hulls said.

The Great Wall extends about 1,500 miles along the southern border of the Mongolian plain was was used to prevent invasion. Now it’s one of the world’s most famous tourist spots which is why Hulls and Oladipo were there.

They had other reasons, of course. The Indiana basketball players went to China as part of a Reach USA tour with other college players. They helped the U.S. team compile a 6-2-1 record, against two teams –- one from Lithuania and one from Brazil. They played the Lithuanians seven straight times, then Brazil the last two.

“The Lithuanians could really shoot the ball,” Hulls said. “All they really did was round around in circles, run you off screen and then shoot threes. I think one game we had a combined 27 three-pointers.

“Some of them are really good and could probably play in the United States if they wanted to.”

The Lithuanians, at least, expected a little more variety in the competiton.

“They didn’t know they wre going to plau us seven times, so they were not too happy about that,” Hulls said.

Hulls played point guard there, something he’ll also do for Indiana. Given the fact the U.S. team wasn’t exactly the most structured group around, there were some challenges.

“We tried to run plays,” Hulls said, “but not everone wanted to run the plays, but it was still a lot of fun.”

The trip gave Hulls extra playing experience, which should be a plus next season for IU. That included more work on his leadership skills, something point guards can’t have enough of.

“Getting a group of 10 guys from different colleges to go out and play together is tough,” he said. “I learned that you have to take what you can get and try to direct guys in the right spot on the court even if they don’t want to run the play.

“Playing against different styles of play was good for me, too. Having to play against some of the bigger guards was good. They were quick and crafty and, of course, you get an extra step over there as well as the continuation calls.”

Figure at IU when coach Tom Crean calls plays, Hoosier players will want to run them -– or at least run them whether they want to or not.

Hulls will have a major role for the Hoosiers next season, whether it’s at the point or as a shooting guard. Yes, freshman Cody Zeller is going to get a lot of hype, but somebody has to get him the ball. That will be among Hulls’ responsibilities in a season that should produce a return to Indiana’s winning ways.


Kevin Wilson’s football recruiting priorities are coming into focus with his early commitments for the Class of 2012.

So far he’s landed three defensive players and an offensive lineman.

The defensive guys are three-star Ohio linebacker Nick Mangieri, Ohio defensive back Dawson Fletcher and Ohio defensive tackle Alex Todd. The offensive guy is lineman Dan Freeney, a 6-4, 295 pounder from Illinois. He’s also a three-star player.

None of these guys will rock recruiting experts’ world, but that’s not the point. You want guys who are talented enough to play at a high level, hungry enough to maximize their potential.

Do these players fit that mold? We won’t know that until they’re at IU for a couple of years.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cream 'n Crimson Good -- Cheaney Brings An Edge

Yeah, it’s about the show. That’s the way it is these college basketball days. Guys want to get to the show, the NBA. They want the money and fame and glitz.

They want to be the next Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose or Dwyane Wade.

That’s human nature. Guys put in as much time as they have to these days in college -- and it’s basically seven days a week for years -- because they want NBA opportunity. Not all will get it. That’s part of life.

But Calbert Cheaney can show them how to get there. Do not under-estimate that importance, both in Hoosier recruiting and player development.

Players will play for Hoosier glory. Tom Crean won’t put up with individual selfishness. It’s team first, sacrificing for the common good. With that sacrifice will come winning and accolades and, if a player is good enough, professional opportunity.

Again, Cheaney will be huge in that. He played 13 seasons in the NBA. He made $30 million during his career, with a high of $4 million in 1999. He has a gorgeous wife (Yvette), gorgeous kids (Julian and Sydney) and a winning smile. He lived the dream -- without turning into a prima donna. He seems too nice to be true and in oh so many ways, he is.

But don’t forget this -- Cheaney is also a basketball killer. You don’t become the college player of the year, as he was in 1993 under demanding coach Bob Knight, by turning the other cheek.

“He’s a guy who is very talented,” Crean said “but he’s always worked very hard to go above and beyond what people thought he’d be. He’s got a very energized attitude with an edge to him. When he’s spoken to our guys, there’s an edge there. You have to have that. You have to have an attitude about you.”

Cheaney talks about the importance of will and determination. He stresses that practice is a place where “all the blood, sweat and tears start,” and that games should be “easy.”

That, in the end, determines whether a player will make it in the NBA. Yes, you have to have the talent, but a lot of guys do coming out of college. Some make it. Some don’t. Some star for a decade or more. Some fade away after a year or two.

The key is work ethic and desire. It’s having that confidence and drive to maximize your talent and, at times, push a little bit more.

That was Calbert Cheaney as a player. If it’s also Calbert Cheaney as a coach, look out.

Several years ago I wrote a book on IU basketball called “Hoop Tales – Indiana Hoosiers Men’s Basketball.” It had a chapter on Cheaney (called “A Humble Hero”) where he talked about wanting to be a college coach someday, that he loved teaching kids and had a lot to offer.

LIFE-CHANGING OPPORTUNITY: There’s an ad on this blog where you can buy hundreds, if not thousands, of copies of the book to enrich your life and those you love and maybe even prevent global warming. Is this a shameless plug? Of course. We have a daughter in college and a son set to join her and a dog to feed and mulch to buy and …


Anyway, Cheaney talked on Monday about his love for coaching and that he wouldn’t mind working at the college level or the NBA or high school or even middle school. He said, when he left IU back in 1993, that he never envisioned returning as part of the coaching staff.

“I thought that I might some day want to become a coach, that I want to give knowledge to kids, but it never crossed my mind that I would come back.”

Now that he’s back Cheaney wants to win as much now as the days when he led the Hoosiers to glory.

“Winning starts with work ethic,” he says. “When you have that mental preparation, that’s winning basketball. All of sudden you’re winning Big Ten championships and competing for national championships and doing it every year.”

This is why Crean wanted Cheaney on his staff, and now that he’s got him, well, figure it’s gonna be a good run.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Harris Thrives; IU Makes Money; Calipari Win Total Drops

In case you’ve forgotten, Gary Harris is a basketball stud.

The latest example comes from the NPBA Top 100 Camp in Virginia. Going against the best players in America from the Class of 2012, Harris led his team to the championship by scoring the game winning basket in the final two seconds of the title game. Along the way he averaged 12.4 points, which was the eighth-best total at the camp.

The Hamilton Southeastern standout continues to be recruited by Indiana and Purdue, among others.

Harris was not the best player in Virginia -- at least in the minds of those who voted on it. Iowa’s Adam Woodbury was the camp MVP while Yogi Ferrell, who has committed to IU, was the Most Outstanding Playoff Performer by virtue of his passing and running the offensive show.

Another player the Hoosiers are looking at, Mitch McGary, averaged 12.3 points, the ninth-best total at the camp. He was active and aggressive, and is the poster child for the benefits of spending a year in prep school -- at least from an academic and athletic standpoint.

While IU coach Tom Crean could use Harris and McGary, he absolutely needs a true point guard to handle his attack-the-rim offense. The Hoosiers haven’t had one in Crean’s first three seasons, and likely won’t have one this coming season. However, that changes once Ferrell arrives in the fall of 2012. He didn’t have a great week during the Indiana Senior All-Stars against the Junior All-Stars, but his top-100 Camp performance showed what he can do, and that is a very good sign.

IU will need all of that, and a lot more, to return to national relevance.


We know that universities across the country are losing money on athletics. Specifically, 206 NCAA Division I public schools lost money. We also know, courtesy of USA Today and the NCAA, that one of those universities is NOT Indiana.

IU is one of 22 public universities at the Division I level whose athletic departments made money.

The Hoosiers made a $1.1 million profit, which is a dramatic turnaround from where it was about six years ago. A LOT of this was due to the Big Ten Network, which continues to be a huge moneymaker.

Purdue also made money, at $3.3 million.

The Big Ten had more athletic departments make money than any other conference. Again, the Big Ten Network is the major reason. Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa were among those 22 departments with surplusses.

The report only included athletic departments that didn’t get money from the school or government, and didn’t use student fees.

The biggest moneymaker was Oregon at $41.8 million (see what all those cool green and yellow color combinations can do). Alabama was second at $26.6 million. Texas had the most revenue ($143.5 million -- about twice what IU pulled in) and the most expenses ($130.4 million). It also is set to have its own TV network, so that revenue number is sure to rise.


So how many college basketball coaching victories does John Calipari have?

For now, at least, it’s 467.

Even Kentucky, Calipari’s employer, has bought into the NCAA ruling that 42 of his victories from Memphis and Massachusetts were vacated because of NCAA violations. Calipari wasn’t found to be at fault for issues involving former players Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose, but the NCAA still vacated the wins in which those guys played.

The NCAA asked Kentucky to admit it publicly screwed up when it honored Calipari for his 500th victory when the Wildcats beat Florida last Feb. 26. After a disagreement, UK officials agreed to adjust their records to match that of the NCAA.

There is a time to fight the NCAA and a time to concede. This was concession time.

What isn’t vacated or conceded is Kentucky’s appearance in the Final Four last spring. That was the Wildcats’ first trip to the event since 1998.

A cynic could say that Calipari's other two Final Four appearances were wiped off the books because of those NCAA violations. A cynic could say that. We're just saying.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Best Possible Choice -- Cheaney Returns to IU

IU has got itself a good one with Calbert Cheaney.

As good as he was as a player, and you could argue he was the best player in IU history, he’s a better person.

How do I know this?

Personal experience.

I got to cover him when he played for the Hoosiers in the early 1990s. He was always gracious and accommodating. Always. He did the right things the right way. Always. Believe me, not every high-profile college athlete, and you can’t get much higher profile than Cheaney was at IU, does that.

Cheaney, an Evansville native, has made a huge contribution to his old community. That includes building the Greater St. James Community Recreation and Education Center.

Cheaney was officially hired as IU’s director of basketball operations on Saturday morning. He’d spent the previous two years working with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, the last team he played for. In the first year he was a special assistant in the front office where he worked closely with team players as far as personal and professional development, plus did player evaluations. Last year he was an assistant coach for former IU standout Keith Smart. Smart was fired after last season.

Cheaney represents the best of Hoosier athletics and will be the perfect example of what talent and hard work can do -- on and off the court.

He also will be tough to beat in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

“Calbert will have an impact on our program in a major way,” coach Tom Crean said in a university release. “He wants to get into coaching full time and he knows the path it takes, the work ethic and the sacrifice. Every kid who plays college basketball at this level aspired to achieve what Calbert did on and off the court, both collegiately and as a professional. Having him here as a mentor on a day-to-day basis will be invaluable to our players.”

Cheaney played 13 seasons in the NBA and averaged 9.5 points. He was the national player of the year for IU as a senior, leading the Hoosiers to the 1992 Final Four and the No. 1 ranking in 1993.

“My family and I believe that this was the right time to begin a career in college basketball,” Cheaney said in a university release. “I am expecially looking forward to playing a role in the growth of the players at Indiana. I’m very grateful to Coach Crean for this opportunity to return to IU. I look forward to contributing immediately in any way possible.”

Nobody in Big Ten history scored more than Cheaney’s 2,613 points. Probably nobody ever will. Both Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore and Penn State’s Talor Battle were four-year starters and while both surpassed 2,000 career points, neither came close to Cheaney’s total.

He led the Hoosiers to a 105-27 record in his four seasons. As a senior he averaged 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as IU went 17-1 in the Big Ten. That’s the third best conference record ever behind the pair of 18-0 seasons IU had under coach Bob Knight in 1975 and ’76.

“Calbert knows the standard that it takes to be successful academically as a high-level student athlete, and he knows what is expected to play at the NBA level,” Crean said. “He is excited to learn the business of college basketball and we are thrilled to have Calvert (and his family) as part of the IU basketball family on a full-time basis.”

On a side note, Calbert was about 10 years younger than me during his IU playing days. Remarkably, thanks to the benefits of creative writing and modern math, he is now about 10 years older than me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cheaney Returning to IU? Basketball Schedule Challenge

Could Calbert Cheaney join the Indiana basketball coaching staff?

Reports are out (the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Rick Bozich broke it) that the former Hoosier All-America and Big Ten career scoring leader is in position to take the director of operations position.

Nothing is official yet, but if it works out it would be a link to former Cream ‘n Crimson greatness. Cheaney was part of a great run in the early 1990s that saw the Hoosiers soar to No. 1 in the nation and reach the 1992 Final Four, where they ran into Duke and official Ted Valentine.

That’s a blog for another day.

Cheaney scored 2,613 points in his four-year career. Given that few great players stay in college for four years, that Big Ten record might never be broken.

Michigan State's Shawn Respert came the closest with 2531 points. Steve Alford is second in IU history with 2438 points.

Cheaney was a three-time All-America who swept every major player-of-the-year award as a senior when he averaged 22.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. The Hoosiers were 87-16 in his final three seasons.

Cheaney, an Evansville native, had a productive NBA career after being taken with the No. 6 draft pick by Washington. He played for five teams over 13 seasons, and totaled 7,826 points and 2,610 rebounds.

Cheaney spent last year working as an assistant coach for Golden State, the last team he played for before retiring in 2006. Another former Hoosier, Keith Smart, was the head coach before being fired at the end of the year.

IU’s director of operations job opened when Drew Adams left recently to go to New Mexico.

This would be an intriguing opportunity for Cheaney if he wants to get into college coaching, and a chance for coach Tom Crean to solidify his connection with IU tradition.

Oh, yes. It won’t hurt recruiting, either. Cheaney knows what it takes to thrive in the NBA, something EVERY stud high school prospect wants to know. While Cheaney couldn't recruit as director of basketball operations, Crean could certainly mention that if a player came to IU, he could learn first hand from a former NBA player what being a pro is all about.

Yeah, that's a big deal. In fact, so would landing Cheaney.


Adding Nebraska didn’t change the Big Ten’s 18-game conference basketball schedule. What it did do was alter the format so that each team will play seven home-and-home series, and four single games.

Yes, that could have a HUGE impact on the regular season race, and on the Hoosiers’ ability to have a winning record.

In an ideal world, the Big Ten would have gone to a 22-game conference schedule, playing everybody home and home. But coaches were concerned that would produce a brutal schedule no other conference would face and hurt Big Ten teams’ chances of making the NCAA tourney.

They would be right.

What does this mean for Indiana?

It will play Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska and Wisconsin just once next season. Illinois and Northwestern will be at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers will travel to Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Winning at Wisconsin, by the way, is about as easy as beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

The Hoosiers will have home-and-home games with Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Penn State.

The final Big Ten schedule with all the dates is set to be released in August.


It looks like IU has gotten its second verbal football commitment in Illinois standout Nick Mangieri. He’s a 6-5, 230-pound two-way player who can handle defensive end, linebacker and tight end. lists him as its No. 33 outside linebacker. He joins offensive tackle Alex Todd, a 6-4, 290-pounder from Ohio who committed earlier.
Players can’t sign until February.


Big Ten clout remains firmly in place after lining up a deal with CBS Sports that will cover basketball games through the 2016-17 season. The agreement, which starts this season, calls for at least 24 appearances by Big Ten teams on the network, including three Big Ten wildcard weekends. CBS will continue to televise the conference’s tournament semifinal and title games. Various women’s teams also will appear on the network.

This continues an arrangement with CBS that began in 1991. CBS sports programming executive vice president Mike Aresco called the Big Ten basketball agreement a “cornerstone of our regular-season NCAA basketball coverage.”

How much that cornerstone was worth was not mentioned in the release, but you know it runs into the millions of dollars.

Doing It Right – Crean, Lauren Spierer, Recruiting

Doing the right thing is part of Tom Crean’s DNA. So even while he continues his basketball camps and recruiting – including taking full advantage of Wednesday’s first-day of calling players in the Class of 2013 – he was volunteering to help find missing IU student Lauren Spierer.

Spierer disappeared about two weeks ago while walking back to her apartment in downtown Bloomington. It has generated national attention and every day volunteers go out in various parts of the city and area trying to find her.

Crean and his staff have been among those looking.

As far as basketball, IU coaches have contacted such prospects as Demetrius Jackson (ranked No. 71 by, Darryl Hicks, Zak Irvin (ranked No. 97), Brannen Greene (No. 31), Jalen James, Derrick Walton (No. 88), Josh Newkirk and Bo Zeigler.

Crean didn’t get any commitments. However, Michigan coach John Beilein did with Fort Wayne Canterbury’s Austin Hatch and Ohio forward Mark Donnal. Both players can shoot, which is huge in Beilein’s system.


All the details are finally in about Kevin Wilson’s debut game as the new head football coach at Indiana. The season-opening game is set for Saturday, Sept. 3, against Ball State with a 7 p.m. start at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The game will be televised on ESPN3.

In case you’re wondering, there apparently really is an ESPN3.

It’s good that somebody will be using Lucas Oil Stadium given the NFL lockout. Yes, we know there are reports both sides are getting close to an agreement, but we’ll believe that when we see it.

Anyway, the Hoosiers first home game is Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. against ACC-opponent Virginia. That will be on the Big Ten Network.

For the record, there is not a Big Ten Network3 -- for now.

The Sept. 17 game against South Carolina State is set for 3:30 p.m. also on the Big Ten Network. IU’s game at North Texas State is on Sept. 24 with a 6 p.m. start on, you guessed it, ESPN3.

The Hoosiers will pay Northwestern at noon for the Oct. 29 Homecoming contest. They’ll also play at Wisconsin at noon on Oct. 15, and at Iowa on Oct. 22.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Break For IU Basketball Commits

It never ends for these guys. Yeah, if you’re a stud high school basketball player, relaxing at home, doing chores at home (kids don’t like it, but it sure helps the parents), hanging out with friends or even family vacations that don't involve basketball is hard to do because of non-stop opportunities.

Is this good? It depends on your perspective. There’s no doubt it helps them as basketball players. It’s among the reasons why so many freshmen are ready for instant college impact. Still, you wonder if it’s all too much.

Not that anybody asked us.

Anyway, IU commits Yogi Ferrell, Ron Patterson, Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea are at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia running this week. So is Gary Harris, the guy everybody wants but nobody can get yet, along with Mitch McGary, another highly sought after guy.

In fact, 95 of the nation’s top 100 ranked players are supposed to be there. The camp is designed to prepare them for college basketball and college life.

Given all the glitches you hear in college athletics these days (can you say Ohio State?) hopefully it includes extra attention to extra benefits such as selling memorabilia for tattoos.

These guys don’t get much of a break. Shortly after their high school seasons ended they began spring travel ball. Then there was the Indiana All-Star stuff. Now there are these camps. July will be busy with more travel ball. There might be some down time in August, but you figure these days they use that time for pickup games, working on individual games and whatever in preparation for next season. It’s a college schedule come early.

Being good carries a price.


Tom Crean’s non-stop recruiting includes Kentucky standout Ryan Taylor, the former Indianapolis North standout now playing at Louisville’s Western High School. He wants to go to Louisville, he’s committed there, but there are some academic qualification issues.

Taylor is a 6-6 all-state player who averaged 26.1 points and 14.2 rebounds last year. Those are VERY impressive numbers. He’s set to visit Kansas on Thursday. Indiana, West Virginia and Missouri are looking at him.

Taylor is good friends with Remy Abell, the Kentucky All-Star committed to IU.

Will Crean make an offer? Probably not. Taylor might very well be heading to Kansas by the end of the week. But it shows that Crean continues to explore every recruiting option in the quest to restore the Hoosier program.

If you want to be good, you have no choice.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Abell Enough? IU's Incoming Freshman Has Potential

So what’s the deal with Remy Abell, the Louisville standout who is, in a lot of ways, the unknown member of IU’s Class of 2011?

Abell showed in the two-game Indiana-Kentucky All-Star series that he can defend, score and get to the basket.

Those are all attributes IU needs from its guards.

Everybody knows Cody Zeller is the key to this class, and to Hoosier prospects next season. The 6-11 forward was his usual dominating self in Saturday’s series wrapup against Kentucky with 26 points and 15 rebounds. That was a big reason why Indiana won 94-82 for another series sweep. Indiana is 23-3 against Kentucky in the last 13 years.

As for Austin Etherington, he’s a longer-term prospect. He had six points and three blocks against Kentucky.

The 6-4 Abell offers the potential for more significant impact. He played for Kentucky and totaled 16 points Saturday night, although he slowed down after a 12-point first half on 5-for-8 shooting.

He’s listed as a three-star prospect by and has some point guard potential. Point guard remains a Hoosier weakness. Coach Tom Crean seems to have that covered with Yogi Ferrell in the Class of 2012, but that won’t help next season.

Verdell Jones and Jordan Hulls are the veterans in that role, although neither is the kind of point guard you need for high-level success.

Hulls is most effective as a shooting guard (he shoots nearly 50 percent from the field, more than 41 percent from three-point range and doesn’t miss free throws).

Jones averages almost as many turnovers as assists, and is better as a scorer (over a thousand points for his career) than as a distributor.

Abell has to show he’s a good decision maker and ball handler. He has to get the right guys the ball at the right moments in the right way. Can he do it? That’s tough to ask for a freshman, but if he can, Hoosier prospects for a winning record look a lot brighter.


Faith Sherrill is a five-time track All-American. That is the big-picture reality.

She is not a NCAA champion. That is the disappointing truth.

Ferrill entered this weekend’s NCAA meet in Des Moines, Iowa, with a good chance to win her first collegiate national title, this one in the shot put. She’d been close a bunch of times before. She was prepared as she’d never been before. She was a senior with do-or-die motivation.

It wasn’t enough. Her throw of 57-foot-6.75 was only enough for fourth place. That matched her fourth-place finish in March’s indoor national meet.


Has Crean done it again? Has he tapped into yet another Class of 2014 talent for an offer?

If ESPN is right, 6-8 forward Jarred Reuter, a Massachusetts native, has received an offer from the Hoosiers. He’s a football player with the kind of physical approach needed to thrive in Big Ten baskeball play. He’s raw –- he missed his freshman basketball season because of a football injury, and hasn’t played basketball very long –- but he apparently has a strong upside.

Reuter has plenty of time to develop into a force. He needs to be patient, determined and dedicated. The risk is that Reuter will never develop, which is why no other high-major program has yet offered.

Crean has been working on the Class of 2014 for a while. Already committed to the Hoosiers are James Blackmon and Trey Lyles. Blackmon is a guard. Lyles is a forward.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Etherington An Instant-Impact Player?

What kind of impact will incoming freshman Austin Etherington have at IU next season?

It’s hard to tell based on his results in the last week.

In two games against the Junior All-Stars, he totaled 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting, including just 1-for-8 from three-point range, which is supposed to be the 6-6 shooting guard’s strength.

In the Indiana All-Stars 105-103 win over Kentucky Friday night in Louisville, Etherington had one point in nine minutes. He was 0-for-2 from the field. The good news -- he had four rebounds.

In about a week or so Etherington will head to IU, where he will get fully immersed in the strength and conditioning program. He’ll play lots of pickup games with the rest of the Hoosiers. Come the fall he’ll get plenty of work with coach Tom Crean and his staff.

In an idea world, this will mean a ton of improvement that will show itself on the court next season. In a realistic world, it might take a year or two to determined Etherington’s impact.

The best example of what he could do this coming season comes from last year's freshmen, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey. They got to Bloomington last summer and instantly impressed the coaches with their work ethic. By the time the season arrived, they were ready to significantly contribute.

They both played all 32 games. Oladipo started five games. Sheehey started seven. Oladipo averaged about 18 mintues a game along with 7.4 points and 3.6 rebounds. Sheehey averaged about 14 minutes, 4.9 points and 2.1 rebounds.

It's not like IU's prospects this season depend on Etherington. Patience can be utilized. If Crean and his staff have done a good job of evaluating, if Etherington puts in the necessary time, he will be a solid player down the road. If not, well, recruiting is an inexact science. Sometimes even top-10 rated recruits falter.

Etherington is not a top-10 player. Can he still end up being a productive one?

That's up to him.


Sure, a broken down bus delayed the Indiana All-Stars en route to Friday night's game against Kentucky, so they ended up at a truck stop north of Seymour for about two hours.

Did the distraction cost them a victory?

Are you kidding.

Marquis Teague hit the game-winning basket with less than a second remaining to lift the Indiana All-Stars over their Kentucky counterparts, 105-103. Indiana has now won 22 of the last 25 games in the series.

Yes, that’s the same Teague who is headed to Kentucky.

Cody Zeller had nine points and nine rebounds in 20 foul-plagued minutes for the winners. Unlike Etherington, Zeller is expected to make a big impact right away as soon as he arrives on the Indiana campus. He’s a skilled 6-11 player who can drive, rebound and play defense. He’s spent the last week showing once again how significant a recruit Crean had landed.

If that continues next season, bet the house the Hoosiers will make the postseason next year.


One of these days Kelvin Sampson figures to land a NBA head coaching job. Make that a high-paying NBA job.

The guy is a perennial candidate while an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. Now the former Indiana coach, whose two-year run with the Hoosiers crushed the program because of NCAA violations and too many problem players, is up for the Detroit job.

Earlier, he was a candidate for the Houston Rockets job that eventually went to Kevin McHale.

Sampson has been a Milwaukee assistant under Scott Skiles since 2008, when he was forced to resign at IU. The NCAA placed him under show-cause restrictions that make it virtually impossible for him to coach in college until 2013. Sampson has said he’s focused on becoming a head coach in the NBA.

Sampson could always coach. He’s certainly done a solid job with the Bucks. It doesn’t seem fair that he’s going to be richly rewarded for the damage he did to the Hoosier program (remember, he got a $750,000 buyout to just go away), but then, Pete Carroll paid no price for what happened to USC’s football program under his watch. He’s now the well-paid head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Trojan penalties include being stripped of their 2004 national title.

Maybe if coaches were hit hard financially for NCAA sanctions, if they couldn't just bail for greener pro pastures, their programs would be cleaner. Put it in every college contract that if the university gets hit with a penalty, the coach has pay a fine. The worse the penalty, the bigger the fine.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

IU’s Alex Dickerson Gets What He Wants – And Didn’t Want

Sometimes you don’t always get what you want. Didn’t the Rolling Stones sing something about that back when steroids were something just Iron Curtain countries did?

Anyway, Alex Dickerson is a very good IU baseball player. Make that a FORMER IU player. He’s been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates as the 91st pick of the Major Leauge Baseball draft. That made him the first selection of the third round.

The Pirates, by the way, haven't had a winning record since 1992. That's the longest losing streak by any professional North American team in history.

Anyway, Dickerson was hoping for a lot higher, but he’ll get his professional shot. It’s up to him to make the most of it.

He was a stud for the Hoosiers. In 2010, he won the Big Ten triple crown with a .419 average, 24 home runs and 75 runs batted in. He was a first team All-America.

In three seasons his 47 career home runs ties him for the school record. His .657 slugging percentage ranks fourth in school history. His 266 hits rank fifth. His .386 career batting average is fifth. He’s sixth with 181 runs batted in.

The word on the Internet mock draft street was that he’d go between the No. 40 and No. 60 pick. He missed that mark, but he was drafted WAY better than he was coming out of high school in California, when he was a 48th round selection by the Washington Nationals.

Three years with IU coach Tracy Smith made a huge difference. While his numbers fell this past season when the NCAA mandated a less potent aluminum bat (everybody in college baseball saw a similar drop), he has the size and strength at 6-2 and 225 pounds to be a formidable offensive force.

Dickerson is not a defensive wizard. He has an average arm and average speed. He’ll probably get a shot at the outfield first and, if that doesn’t work out, move to first base.

Another Hoosier, pitcher Blake Monar, was drafted by Washington in the 12th round as the 367th overall pick.

This past season he went 6-3 with a 3.52 earned run average and a team-leading 61 strikeouts.

A shoulder injury sidelined him for much of 2010. He only pitched once, but did contribute with his bat (eight hits and six runs batted in). As a freshman in 2009 he won five games. He was first drafted by the New York Yankees in the 26th round right out of high school.

Monday, June 6, 2011

No Defense? No Problem For Zeller and All-Stars

If you love defense, you’d have had a miserable time when the Indiana All-Stars faced their junior counterparts at Washington’s Hatchet House.

But then, it wasn’t about you.

The first basketball exhibition encounter on Monday night showcased the state’s impressive offensive talent for the Classes of 2011 and 2012, and points were scored faster than you could ask, when will Gary Harris make up his mind?

Harris looked awfully good, by the way. He had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven steals in 20 minutes. It wasn’t enough to get the juniors past the seniors, but it left fans from Indiana hoping this Hamilton Southeastern standout sees the Cream ‘n Crimson light.

IU, Purdue, Louisville, Ohio State and Michigan State are among the VERY interested teams.

For the record, Warsaw guard Nick Moore hit a pair of late three-pointers to give the All-Stars a 117-113 win over the juniors.

We told you there wasn’t much defense.

Cody Zeller was the star, as you knew he would be in his last game at the Hatchet House. He had 26 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks in 31 minutes, which is what you’d expect from Indiana’s Mr. Basketball on his home court. He also a couple of rim-rocking dunks that got a crowd of about 5,000 pumped. He hadn’t lost at the Hatchet House since his sophomore season, and the last thing he wanted was to end with one. Add brothers Luke and Tyler and there’s been a Zeller thriving at this historic arena for decade.

That’s over.

Zeller had lots of help Monday night. Branden Dawson, who is heading to Michigan State, had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Kentucky-bound Marquis Teague, who was booed by Cream ‘n Crimson fans during warm-ups, had 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Moore, who at 5-9 was the smallest player on the court, had 14 points. He is going to Illinois State.

The juniors were led by Kokomo’s D.J. Balentine. He had 25 points and was 7-for-10 from three-point range. He has yet to commit to a college, by the way.

As far as Indiana-bound players, senior Austin Etherington had eight points in 16 minutes. In a rare off night, Yogi Ferrell had just four points in 16 minutes for the juniors. However, Jeremy Hollowell had 15 points and five rebounds for the juniors. Ron Patterson had nine points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.

Many of these players will get together again Wednesday in Kokomo for another exhibition before the All-Stars face their Kentucky counterparts this weekend. Friday they play at Louisville’s Bellarmine University. On Saturday they play at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse.

That's a lot of basketball. Yes, it's a good thing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Delany 'Disappointed' in Tressel's 'Fundamental' Error

Anger? Jim Delany wouldn’t go there. The Big Ten commissioner insisted he only gets ticked at his dog, not that we know what kind of dog he has or what deed would merit that kind of reaction.

As for ex-Oho State football coach Jim Tressel lying to just about everybody on the planet about what he knew about his players breaking NCAA rules, well, anger wasn’t part of Delany’s reaction.

Disappointment, however, was.

“I was disappointed, surprised and wished it hadn’t happened,” he said. “It’s been hard on the coach; it's been hard on the players; it's been hard on the fans. The test is how resilient you are. How do you manage this kind of challenge? I have tremendous confidence in that program to be resilient.”

Delany has spent the last two decades working to ensure the Big Ten represents the best of college athletics. The fall of Indiana’s basketball program under Kelvin Sampson and now the turmoil surrounding Ohio State football (Tressel has resigned, quarterback Terrelle Pryor is under NCAA investigation, five players have been suspended for breaking NCAA rules) has shaken that image.

Delany said he’s made it clear that for those in a position of responsibility, as Tressel was, there is a responsibility to do something when they receive information of possible violations. They must tell the appropriate people who will then report to the NCAA. Tressel learned in April of 2010 about possible violations, but never told anyone but the mentor of Pryor.

Why Tressel told him remains one of the great mysteries of this situation.

“How Coach Tressel handled it was not the right way,” Delany said. “You have to force it up the chain of command. The chain broke when the coach didn’t forward the information.”

A Sports Illustrated story said at least 28 Buckeye football players sold memorabilia for tattoos, which is an NCAA violation, and that it’s been going on for at least nine years.

Six players, including Pryor, were identified last winter as having sold memorabilia for tattoos and were suspended for the first five games of this coming season. However, they were allowed to participate in the Sugar Bowl.

The NCAA and the Big Ten, including Delany, took a lot of criticism for that, as they should have. If they broke NCAA rules, and they did, the suspension should have gone into affect immediately.

“At the time I was involved with that,” Delany said, “I took the facts as presented to me that Ohio State had just become aware of the tattoo extra benefit. For me at the time there was not a coach involvement or an agent involvement or a booster involvement. It was kids making some bad judgments. The NCAA made the decision about the Sugar Bowl.

“I was surprised that Coach Tressel had previous knowledge. That can happen. I was disappointed. I didn’t feel much more than that. I knew it was a serious matter. I’ve made it clear to coaches and athletic directors that when information becomes available (about possible NCAA violations) you have no choice, you have to forward it. The failure to do that was a fundamental error.”

Ohio State and Tressel are set to meet with the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12. Within six weeks the committee is likely to decide what penalties to impose. Could the Big Ten be proactive and make Ohio State ineligible for the inaugural Big Ten football title game this December in Indianapolis?

“The next step will play out over the next few months between Ohio State and the NCAA,” Delany said. “I’m confident they will look at the facts. There will be a lot of hard questions for Ohio State. The infractions committee will make a decision and we’ll accept it. There’s a broad range of things that could happen and I can’t predict what that will be.”


In case you missed it, the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors have decided on the league's future regarding football and basketball. The football championship game is set for Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium through 2015, beating out Chicago's Soldier Field. The men’s and women’s basketball tourneys will be held at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The men’s tourney will be at Chicago’s United Center in 2013 and 2015. The women’s tourney will be at Sears Centre Arena in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates in 2013 and 2015.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bring it On -- Justice Department Takes On BCS

Bill Hancock, the guy who runs the Bowl Championship Series, is making his latest pitch on why the BCS is the best thing to happen to college football since the forward pass.

Okay, he didn’t actually SAY that, but the implication is clear as he prepares to meet with attorneys from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. The Department of Justice is investigating whether the BCS violates anti-trust laws.

In all likelihood, the BCS doesn’t violate those laws. It does, however, prevent a college football playoff, which all of America wants except the commissioners of the six power conferences and the heads of the four major bowls (Orange, Rose, Sugar and Fiesta).

Of course, given the recent problems associated with the Fiesta Bowl (let’s just say there with ethics issues pertaining to inappropriate expenditures and gifts, and excessive executive compensation), who cares what the Fiesta Bowl thinks.

Specifically, the BCS has created a five major-bowl system -– the traditional Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls –- plus a national championship game. It involves the 11 Bowl Subdivision conferences (can’t we go back to calling it I-A?) and Notre Dame. The six power conferences get automatic entry into the major bowls, even when a major conference, such as the Big East last year (unranked Connecticut got crushed by Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl), doesn't deserve it. Everybody else vies for at-large bids.

Anyway, Hancock is going to talk with the Department of Justice sometime this summer. He said, in a statement, that “The BCS was carefully created with antitrust laws in mind. I am confident that it is fully compliant with those laws.

“It has improved competition by delivering a national championship game between the two top-ranked teams, which only rarely existed before the BCS. It has also dramatically increased access to top-tier bowls for schools from (mid-major) conferences.”

BCS officials point out that the format has had the two top-ranked teams play each other in a bowl game 13 times in 13 years by the BCS poll, and 10 of 13 times according to the AP poll, including the last seven years in a row.

BCS officials also insist it has increased access for all teams into major bowl games while “enhancing the value of the regular season and preserving traditional bowl-conference relationships.” They talk about the improved access for mid-major teams into major bowls. Before the BCS that happened only six times in 54 years. Since the BCS started it’s happened seven times in the last seven years. That includes TCU playing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

TCU won that game, by the way.

Officials also say the BCS has improved attendance in college football games and boosted TV ratings.

All that is true, to an extent, but so what. The BCS system is designed to get major college teams into the national title game, and to heck with the TCUs and Boise States of the world. National titles should be decided on the field and not through computers and polls and guess work. That means a playoff and until that happens, the haves get more and the have-nots wonder when it will change.

So the push for a playoff continues. If the Justice Department can accelerate that process, all the better.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hoosier Take on Big Ten Football Title Game Location

Is the Big Ten ready to announce its decision on what it’s going to do about its football championship game and conference basketball tournaments?

Could be. The league’s annual meeting of the Council of Presidents/Chancellors is set for Sunday. Afterward Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will address the media.

In December the conference will host its first ever championship football game at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, but that’s for just one season while the Big Ten adusts to Nebraska’s debut into the league. Officials are deciding on a permanent site, with the choice down to Indianapolis and Chicago.

Also up for a decision is the location of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Both have been held at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse for a number of years, but that contract is set to expire next spring.

What is IU officials’ take on all of this?

The investigative branch of Hoosier Hoopla is all over this. We have used the same technology that has enabled news organizations to keep tab on every movement of the Newly Married Royal Couple to get the inside scoop on what athletic director Fred Glass and football coach Kevin Wilson think.

Are they ready to go all WWE on Big Ten officials to keep everything in Indianapolis?

Not exactly.

Because we want the truth and can handle the truth, we resorted to the toughest interrogation techniques permitted by law. We threatened to sing Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” if Glass didn’t divulge the good stuff.

Here’s what we got about his preference for the football championship game.

“We talk about it as members of the administrators’ council, which is primarily athletic directors,” Glass said. “I’ve expressed my view inside of that group. I’ll probably just leave it there.”

We started humming “Mandy.”

“I will say,” Glass said, “that I think Indianapolis has done a great job in making it a great event city. I’m proud of Lucas Oil Stadium and the expansion of the convention center. In terms of where we are or where I think we should go, I’ll probably just leave that within the council.”

We hum “Mandy” a little louder and ask if Glass is optimistic Indianapolis will get the title game.

“I’ll leave that where it is,” he said.

So Glass is unbreakable, but what about Wilson. He’s new to the head coaching deal after a bunch of years as an offensive coordinator. Could he handle the full force of the StarWars Death Star – Wait! We mean Manilow’s “Copacabana.”

Anyway, here’s what Wilson had to say after playing in a bunch of Big 12 title games while at Oklahoma.

“It can be at a lot of places. We were at a few of them (conference championship games) at Oklahoma. We had several great games in Kansas City (an outdoor stadium), but we did play inside at Dallas last year. We were inside at San Antonio and Houston.”

Some coaches -- can you say Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald? -- have pushed for Chicago’s Soldier Field. Rumor has it that in early December, when the Big Ten title game would be played, the average temperature in Chicago is between 28 and 41 degrees. However, Hoosier Hoopla research has shown that near Lake Michigan (which is where Soldier Field is located) the average temperature combined with wind chill is one degree above absolute zero.

Nothing moves at that temperature except Terrell Owens’ mouth.

Anyway, Wilson doesn’t really buy the Soldier Field is good theory.

“When you’re a pro team and you’re playing in December for home field advantage like the Bears or the (Green Bay) Packers, it’s nice to come to a cold, dreary day. But they don’t play Super Bowls outside in a cold environment. When you’re playing in a championship game, and I know the weather and the elements are part of our deal, but it’s nice to be in a clean environment where talent and execution determines the winner rather than bad breaks because of a poor weather day.”

Wilson said he remembers playing one Big 12 title game in the snow in Kansas City.

“It wasn’t like the snow cost us, but the crowds were better and it’s better for fans if it’s inside. To say we should do it like the NFL and should go outside to Soldier Field, I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I’m not slighting Chicago. I love Chicago, but I love an indoor arena for that game at that time of year.”

Barry Manilow couldn’t have sung it any better.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

IU Proactive In Fight Against NCAA Violations

Indiana has, it seems, learned its lesson in this era of NCAA infractions. It has become proactive in its never-ending battle to ensure that the mess that staggered the basketball program will never happen again.

Will it work? If you follow college athletics, you know all things -- including bad things -- are possible. Still, the Hoosiers are better prepared to avoid trouble.

Consider how football coach Kevin Wilson is pushing to ensure his program avoids the problems looming over Ohio State. He’s a big believer in monitoring what his players are doing to ensure rules are followed.

“I’ve been a part of it at Oklahoma where we had a kid who got paid for a job he didn’t work. We dismissed him from the team. That day. He was gone.”

IU athletic director Fred Glass has boosted the compliance department in terms of resources and personnel. Wilson doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of that. Now that word has surfaced that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is under investigation for driving with a suspended license for not showing proof of insurance, the Hoosiers are checking the status of their own players.

“We’ll verify that everyone on the team has insurance for their cars,” Wilson said. “That everyone has a valid driver’s license. You don’t assume. You’re not trying to be nosey or personal, but hey, you’ve got a car. Let us be the policeman today so it’s not a ticket. Who are you living with?

“We’ll do things with the freshmen. Most will be on campus starting June 14. You don’t wait for August to start teaching them. We’ll bring in people from the community -- police officers, our counselors. We’ll work with them on how to act, how to do things, so as they go through June and July, not only do they get their first classes and workouts out of the way, but you start teaching them the ropes of how to be a college kid. We’ve got some great resources and great people at Indiana who work hard to max those guys out.”

Still, you’re dealing with people and temptation is part of it. Opportunities to do the wrong thing will come. At that point, if IU has done the job in recruiting quality people who understand what it means to represent themselves, their families and the university, it will be fine. If not, no amount of monitoring and educating will help.