Saturday, July 30, 2011
Wilson Determined To Win Today, Not Tomorrow
So here we are, the last day of July and all things seem possible for Indiana football -– again.
The Hoosiers have a new coach, a new approach, and a new commitment. The goal is, as it always is, to have a winning record and go to a bowl game.
For those who have followed the Hoosiers, these goals usually carry false hope. Reality ruins optimism and in recent years IU has had its share of gut-wrenching losses. It’s been competitive, but lost. No matter. It’s had just one winning record since 1994.
Kevin Wilson arrived from Oklahoma determined to change that. He's won big as an assistant coach everywhere he's been, and he didn't take the Cream 'n Crimson job to screw that record up. He uses positive reinforcement to show the Hoosiers that, yes, they have made big plays in the past and with just a little tougher approach, they can make game-winning, season-changing plays in the future, starting with this season.
So the question remains –- can Indiana turn the corner and go from a perennial loser to a consistent winner? And will Wilson need all seven of his contract years to get that done?
Athletic director Fred Glass answers with an emphatic yes to the first question and no to the second. Of course, that’s his job and role. You wouldn’t expect him to say –- “What the heck was I thinking with this coaching change,” and then add, “We have no chance.”
To be clear –- Glass DID NOT say that. What did he say during the Big Ten football media gathering?
Glad you asked.
“When we announced we were making a coaching change, sometimes you make a change and take a step back,” Glass said.
“The seven-year contract was a demonstration of having patience over time. Having said that, Kevin isn’t patient. He says the seniors aren’t interested in a four-year plan. They’re interested in winning now. Winning today. That’s what he plans to do.
“In some ways we’re turning the corner already. There will be an additional $2 million a year just to pay Kevin and his assistants. That’s the price of poker to play in this conference. That’s a corner that has been turned at Indiana.
“My predecessor, Rick Greenspan, along with (former coach) Terry Hoeppner did a fabulous job with the North End Zone project, a $55 million investment in the stadium along with other investments like a new scoreboard. So the financial corner has been turned.
“What follows now is turning the competitive corner. I don’t think it’s a seven-year deal. I think we’ll see significant improvement in the short run.”
Credit IU’s turning the financial corner to the Big Ten Network, which now prefers to be called BTN, perhaps to put it more in line with the ESPNs, CBSs, ABCs and NBCs of the TV world.
All 12 Big Ten teams share in the network’s profit, and there’s a huge pool to share from.
“You cannot overstate the benefit of the Big Ten Network,” Glass said. “It’s the best thing since canned soup for Indiana University. We take an equal share of the proceeds. The $17 million (a year) we take from the network means a lot more to my $60 million budget than it does Ohio State’s $126 million budget.
“It’s enabled us to hire (basketball coach) Tom Crean. It’s enabled us to hire Kevin Wilson. It’s enabled us to do the North End Zone facility and a lot of other facility development. It’s critically important.”
There’s only one thing more critical –- winning football games.
It took just two hours for the inaugural Big Ten football title game to sell out. The league put 15,000 tickets up for sale Saturday morning and they quickly sold out.
The league will put an extra 15,000 tickets up for sale for each title game team once those teams have been established. The winners of the two new divisions – Leaders and Legends – will meet Saturday, Dec. 3, at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:17 p.m. The game will be televised by FOX Sports.