Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Air Alert – Will Ball State Test IU Secondary? What’s Up With Willis?

So what is Indiana up against when it faces Ball State Saturday?

It’s hard to know given it has a new coach in Pete Lembo, who has thrived at Lehigh and Elon. If a guy can go 79-36 at those places, he ought to be able to build a winner at Ball State, which just a few years ago under Brady Hoke was nationally ranked.

The problem is the Cardinals are just 6-18 in the last two years, which is why Stan Parrish is no longer running the program. Lembo said the key was building trust with the players while installing a new system and approach. That approach includes a more hands-on emphasis when it comes to academics and academic support. It also involves a reorganization of the strength and conditioning program.

Anyway, figure Ball State will come out throwing. Why? Because that’s what Lembo-coached teams are known for. Last year Elon had the nation’s second-ranked passing attack.

Ball State has a pair of veteran quarterbacks in sophomore Keith Wenning and junior Kelly Page. Wenning won the starting job. That’s in contrast to IU, which still has not named a starter. All we know is that Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel will definitely play, and Trey Roberson might.

By all accounts the Hoosiers’ secondary is much improved, which it absolutely has to be if they are to have a chance at a winning season. This is an early test to see where they stand. If Ball State torches them through the air, be very afraid. If IU’s defense stuffs the Cardinals into irrelevance, a turnaround is closer than experts think. And if it's somewhere in the middle, well, a first game can only tell you so much.


Is junior tailback Darius Willis the unluckiest guy in college football or just the most fragile? It’s hard to know. What we do know is that he won’t play Saturday against Ball State because he is, once again, hurt.

Yes, there is also the matter of Willis’ one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. That came after Willis was given a six-month protective order following an alleged domestic assault incident against a female student last winter. Willis was not charged with a crime.

The suspension is irrelevant right now because Willis is hurt. Check that. This game might count as the suspended game, or it might not. Coach Kevin Wilson isn’t sure, but is leaning toward saying that it doesn't count, which means Willis will miss at least one more game.

Anway, as the weeks passed with Willis being too hurt to practice, the initial impression was that he was still recovering from last season’s knee surgery, but Wilson said the injuries go way beyond that and involve hamstring, ankles and back.

Anyway, Willis was hurt as a redshirt freshman, but still managed to rush for 607 yards and six touchdowns. Last year he only played four games, totaling 278 yards and four TDs, before hurting his knee.

Then he missed all of spring practice, and didn’t do much during preseason camp.

Another veteran running back, Nick Turner also is banged up (concussion) and out for the Ball State game.

In the meantime, redshirt freshman Matt Perez, freshman D’Angelo Roberts and junior college transfer Stephen Houston have moved to the forefront. They might stay there even if Willis gets healthy.

Willis was recruited with the hopes of being the next Anthony Thompson, or at least a close copy. He is 6-foot and 220 pounds and, if you remember the Michigan game from 2009, fast enough to run away from defensive backs.

But you could be the second coming of Jim Brown and if you can’t stay healthy, who cares?

If Wilson is to turn the program around, he needs players he can count on, athletically, academically and socially. For one game at least, that means Perez, Roberts and Houston.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can You Keep a Secret -- Big Ten Coaches Evaluate Wilson

Okay, Kevin Wilson says the time to win is now for the Indiana Hoosiers. There’s a belief that IU has more talent than it is given credit for, that while former coach Bill Lynch didn’t win enough, he did stock the roster with winning talent.

Ball State is the first test of the Wilson era and it comes Saturday at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, one of America’s great sports facilities. We’ll get to that in a second, but first we wanted to offer, thanks to Athlon Magazine, insight into what Big Ten coaches are saying anonymously about the Hoosiers.

No, there’s no dirt or controversy or gossip, but it does provide a look at what rivals think of Wilson and his IU prospects.

Coach No. 1: “I know Kevin (Wilson) is going to change their attitude. I’m not saying there was anything bad with Billy (Lynch), but this team is going to take on the personality of Kevin Wilson. Kevin’s demanding, and he’s got a lot of passion, and he’s a great offensive mind. You’ll see that program take on that personality.”

Coach No. 2: “Kevin will find out very quickly he’s not at Oklahoma anymore. He will have his work cut out for him, but he made some great hires in (co-offensive coordinators) Rod Smith and Kevin Johns along with (co-defensive coordinators) Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler.”

Coach No. 3: “I don’t know enough about their depth defensively. They graduated quite a few guys. They were young in the secondary and had to move guys around a year ago. So it’s going to be a work in progress. But they’ve got some flexibility there. They got some junior college guys, so that gives them a chance to get good in a hurry.”

Coach No. 4: “4–0 is very possible. If so, they should get at least two wins the rest of the way and start Wilson’s rebuilding plan in the right direction.”


Ball State became a national power under Brady Hoke a couple of years ago. He left (and is now at Michigan), Stan Parrish took over and the program tanked. So Parrish got the boot and Pete Lembo took over after successful runs at Elon (which is located in North Carolina) and Lehigh.

The Cardinals, by the way, beat IU at Memorial Stadium the last time these teams played. Wilson has made it a point to mention that every time he talks about Ball State. He doesn’t want anyone in the program to forget or take the Mid-American Conference school lightly.

“In 2009 the MAC won four Big Ten games,” he said during his Tuesday press conference. “I’ve been part of MAC teams that have done well (while he was at Miami of Ohio). In fact, there’s a team (Northwestern) that won a Big Ten championship that our MAC team beat.

“The Mid-American Conference has Big Ten-level players that for whatever reason got a little under-recruited, developed late or maybe the scholarship wasn’t there …

“You see a lot of teams in the MAC that are playing well and having great records and doing awesome.”

Lembo got the Ball State job after going 79-36 at Elon and Lehigh. Wilson, who is from North Carolina, knows how impressive that record is.

“I’ve been to (Elon) and know who they compete against. The record down there speaks for itself.

“Player-wise, you watch (Ball State) last year and they were very competitive against Purdue. They let it get away from them against Iowa. But a lot of these guys who are seniors played and were recruited for Coach Hoke’s teams that were winning and winning well. I would expect them to be very much ready, very much physical, very much excited. I expect them to think they have a great opportunity to win.”

This is a Ball State home game. The Cardinals decided to move it to Lucas Oil Stadium and that’s fine with Wilson.

“It’s great for our fans. I’d think we’d have lots of fans with all of our alumni base up there …

“I think it’s neat for our kids. A lot of Indiana kids grow up in this region. Some of them have played high school games there, I’m sure. A chance to play in that arena is pretty cool. The Big Ten championship game is there for the next five years, and the Super Bowl is on that field this year. It’s an exciting venue. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big deal.”


If your ability to sleep the rest of the week boils down to who will be Indiana’s starting quarterback against Ball State, take a deep breath.

Nobody is saying nothing.

Check that. IU coaches are saying that at least two, and possibly three quarterbacks will play, but it won’t be part of a scripted rotation. Coaches won’t say this guy will be in for the third series, this guy the fifth, ect. It will be more of a feel than anything else. The guy starting the game might not be the one to finish. A lot will be based on the productivity of the offense and how the guy is running the show.

The contenders are Edward Wright-Bake and Dusty Kiel, and true freshman Trey Roberson. Figure we won’t know for sure until the Hoosiers huddle up at Lucas Oil.


Ben Chappell got his NFL chance. Well, let’s qualify that. The former Indiana quarterback standout got a chance to throw a lot of practice balls for the Washington Redskins in the last month. As an undrafted free agent, did he really have a shot at sticking with the team? Probably not.

So he got cut on Tuesday and now must wait to see if a team picks him up. If not, he can hope for another shot, either later this season, or next year. Or, he can move on to the rest of his life.

Chappell is a quality person and a smart guy. If the NFL isn’t in his future, he’ll be successful in whatever career he decides.

That’s a fact.


As the Cream ‘n Crimson world knows, IU has a pair of 2013 basketball commitments in Devin Davis and Collin Hartman. just came out with its top 150 for that class. Davis ranked No. 93. Harman was at No. 97.

Former Purdue commitment Derek Willis (IU is now taking a look at this 6-8 Kentucky forward) was at No. 23. The highest rated state-of-Indiana player is Bryson Scott from Fort Wayne Northrop. He’s at No. 53.

Six in-state players are in the top 100 nationally, which again highlights how impressive the talent is in the state.

For the record, Texas guard Andrew Harrison is ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2013.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Earn It -- In Wilson’s IU Football World, Performance Counts

Kevin Wilson refuses to give anything to anybody. He’s big into this you’ve-gotta-earn it thing. Why are we mentioning this? Because it looks like it’s going to cost tight end Ted Bolser and receiver Duwyce Wilson a chance to start this weekend, when the Hoosiers open the season against Ball State and Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

Bolser and Duwyce Wilson are talented guys, two of IU’s best football players, but they’ve been banged up in recent weeks and missed a bunch of practices. In the meantime, receiver Dre Muhammad and tight end Max Dedmond filled in and did the job. They have earned the opportunity to start.

This will be huge for Muhammad, and vindication for five years worth of effort (first at Purdue, then at IU) during which he has started zero games and played minimally.

Anyway, Bolser and Duwyce Wilson don’t have major injuries. Coach Wilson described them as minor tweaks and pulls. Both are likely to be cleared to play against Ball State, but the coach isn’t about to just hand them the No. 1 position.

“To me, you gotta kind of earn it back. To the other guys that have been out there battling every day, it’s a little disheartening. Even though some guy might have a skill set, you have to earn it back. It might be a quick earn because your skill set drives you to the point. But I don’t buy the deal, I got hurt; I automatically get my spot back because I was the starter.”

Kevin Wilson, like all coaches, believes in the motivating power of competition and the old cliché that you either get better every day or you get worse. There is no treading water, which is likely what Bolser and Duwyce Wilson have done because of their injuries.

“One of my comments is, it’s not about getting healthy, it’s about getting better,” Kevin Wilson said. “Better doesn’t mean healthy; it means you’re becoming a better football player, too. When you miss work, that’s hard to do.

“We’ll keep an eye on those guys. Those are two skilled kids. They did a lot in the spring. We’ll see if they get back in the mix.”

Bet the house that they will.


Okay, we can’t help ourselves. When you’re a member of the media and there’s a high-profile position that seemingly is not nailed down, you gotta ask. It’s part of our journalistic DNA.

So when you look at an IU depth chart that lists its quarterback order as either Edward Wright-Baker or Dusty Kiel, you gotta wonder and question.

The problem is, Kevin Wilson doesn’t want to reveal his hand. He HAS to have a good idea at this point. The quarterback position is too important not to. But when asked, he suggested he might play three quarterbacks against Ball State, with freshman Tre Roberson in the mix.

So we get a little twist. IU released its two-deep depth chart on Monday, and Wright-Baker and Kiel were listed, in no particular order, as the starters. Then Kevin Wilson said Roberson was still in the picture. He also said he has no timetable in naming a starting quarterback.

“I don’t know. We’re just not as consumed with it as you guys. They’re all doing good. No one has really separated.”

The best way to separate, by the way, is not turn the ball over.

“Even if a guy goes up there first (to start), we’ll see if he stays the starter,” Wilson says. “I don’t know if anyone has had the support or played well enough to clearly separate. You get into game situations, maybe things go different. We’re not going to look over the shoulder at one bad pass, but right now, we’re just gonna let it keep going a little bit.

“We’ll have a guy go first. He might not be the starter. It might be based on what we’ve seen short team. That guy is taking care of the ball the best.”


By now you probably know, have probably seen, Mitch McGary’s costly dunk. He was in a dunk contest and jammed so hard the backboard shattered and cut him. He needed 37 stitches to close the wound.

McGary isn’t coming to Indiana, or to Purdue or to Notre Dame. Yes, he’s an in-state guy who got away. He’s big, strong and very likely will end up a very rich guy if the NBA and its players ever reach an agreement.

Would it have been nice if a guy like that ended up wearing Cream ‘n Crimson? Of course it would, but the way Tom Cream is recruiting, the Hoosiers won’t miss a beat.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Crean Recruiting Never Stops – Russell, Fischer and Donuts; Urban Meyer Makes a Point

You might think college football dominates this time of year, but you haven’t spent time on the Indiana campus lately. Yes, the football Hoosiers under new coach Kevin Wilson are generating plenty of buzz with the season opener against Ball State less than a week away, but basketball coach Tom Crean isn’t lounging on the couch eating donuts.

First, if you’ve seen Crean, you know he never lounges at any time. As far as donuts, we have no evidence to suggest that he eats anything like that. He’s a perpetual motion guy who never stops recruiting. Over the weekend he had a pair of high-profile recruits swing by for visits, which meant it was time for him to break out the golf cart and buzz around campus.

The highest-profile player was Louisville guard D’Angelo Russell, a top-25 prospect from the Class of 2014 with a 6-8 wingspan even though he’s just 6-3. IU has offered a scholarship. So have Xavier and Louisville. Don’t be surprised if Purdue, Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama also make offers.

IU already has a pair of 2014 commitments from forward Trey Lyles and guard James Blackmon. Yes, Russell has noticed, and in a good way.


What are the odds of Luke Fischer playing his college basketball at Indiana?

Let’s just say this 6-9 forward from Wisconsin, Class of 2013, left Bloomington very, very impressed. Competition includes Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette, Boston College, Creighton, Wake Forest, Butler and Drake.

That’s an interesting list and one certain to shrink in the coming months.

Fischer took an unofficial visit to IU over the weekend. It’s his second unofficial visit to Bloomington, which bodes well for Hoosier prospects, although it’s far from a deal clincher.

He checked out the campus, the academic center and even the basketball skills of some committed players from the Class of 2012 in Yogi Ferrell and Ron Patterson, plus some current Hoosier players, including veterans Derek Elston and Jordan Hulls, plus freshman Cody Zeller, as part of an open gym pick-up game.

Fischer weighs 200 pounds, which would be fine if he was 6-foot. At 6-9, he’s skinny and needs a significant strength boost. This is no big deal because he’ll get bigger as he matures and once he gets to college, he’ll benefit from a structured strength training program.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, IU has a very, very good strength training program.


How big is the Big Ten’s new conference football championship game going to be? Let’s hear from Urban Meyer, the former Florida head coach who experienced all the drama around the SEC title game. He’s retired from coaching, for now at least, and an analyst for ESPN.

During a college football teleconference Meyer said the way the SEC does its championship game rivals if not surpasses what the BCS title game does. He said Big Ten coaches have to approach the conference championship game as the biggest event of the season, even bigger than the BCS finale.

“Make that thing huge so the players look forward to it because it is a grind,” Meyer said. “You reach that point in the second (early December) when you’re dealing with injuries, fatigue. A Big Ten team that goes through that and wins the game is probably going to play in the national championship game.

“It’s great for college football. It’s one of the great experiences. It’s also one of the most fatiguing, nerve wracking experiences you can go through.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tough Enough -- Don't Mess With Former Hoosier Doss

Tandon Doss is one tough son of a buck. Yes, by now you’ve seen the story, the tweets, the blogs, the messages. The former IU stud receiver was minding his own business at a Five Guys hamburger place in Baltimore late Thursday afternoon, getting ready to play in a Ravens’ exhibition game (he’s a Ravens rookie) against the Washington Redskins when a knife fight broke out. Two former employees were attacking the restaurant manager.

For most people, this would be an excuse to run or watch. Doss intervened and broke up the fight. He did it without a weapon of any kind other than the fact he’s a big, athletic guy with a bunch of tattoos. The employees bolted. The manager escaped with just a cut chin.

Then Doss caught two passes for 28 yards in the exhibition game. He also found time to use Twitter to defend himself for helping. His tweet basically said that in Indianapolis, people don’t let victims get jumped without helping.

It’s that kind of fearless attitude that made Doss such an outstanding player for IU. It’s also why he’s likely to stick with the Ravens. You can’t have enough tough-minded guys who do the right thing on your roster.

Doss showed some of that toughness last year. He was banged up at the start of the season, and probably wasn’t ever totally healthy, but still made a huge impact all over the field. He caught 63 passes for 706 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 7.0 yards on punt returns, 24.8 yards on kickoff returns. He rushed for 163 yards and averaged 5.8 yards a carry.

He could have returned for another year of college, but decided to pass in favor of NFL opportunity. There’s one Five Guys manager who is very glad he did.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

QB Who -- IU's Great Football Mystery Remains

We arrived seeking wisdom, understanding and insight. The great mystery that is Indiana football practice was about to be revealed. With it, we hoped, would come the answer to the question that has vexed everyone since Kevin Wilson arrived:

How can you sneak into Memorial Stadium?

Wait, that was the question a pair of students asked us as we were leaving IU’s situational scrimmage Thursday night. Darkness had fallen and Memorial Stadium was all ablaze, a football siren for those who appreciate impressive facilities. At one time, the last thing anyone would want to see was a lit-up Memorial Stadium at night. Now, it is a testament to the university’s commitment to football excellence and a lure for those seeking adventure.

What kind of adventure?

We didn’t ask.

For the record, we told the students that trying to sneak into Memorial Stadium was a REALLY bad idea, that they would be caught, arrested and find themselves spending the last few days before class begins doing community service rather than what all students have gathered early to do -- partying like it was 1999.

So they left, and then so did we, and the real question gnawing at Hoosier fans hovered in the air:

Who would be the starting quarterback?

Still can’t say.

Check that. Based on what we saw, which was scripted situations with ever changing personnel to maximize reps and opportunity, Edward Wright-Baker looked the best. The offense just seemed to flow crisper and smoother while he ran the show. But that also might have had to do with the players he played with and against. There was a lot of shuffling. Still, Wright-Baker opened with the first unit on the opening series. Dusty Kiel got the first unit on the second series, and then they rotated. Tre Roberson didn’t get any first-unit action.

Kiel and Roberson had their moments. Roberson is still more advanced as a runner than a thrower, but that’s to be expected from a true freshman still learning the offense and how to read college defenses.

Also, while it was 11 against 11, it was not full-contact hitting.

Anyway, here is what Wilson had to say when asked for a quarterback update:

“They’re plugging along. I don’t know if they’re getting great help all the time. It’s timing. The receivers get a littled gassed, the rhythm is off, the timing isn’t always ideal. A guy looks like he’s off target, but maybe there’s a receiver leaving him out to dry.

“We’re trying to get the whole crowd to play well around them. They’re still a little inconsistent. We haven’t had a bunch of meetings talking about it. We’re working hard and trying to get better. We’ll let it play out.”

Play can’t last much longer. IU opens its season against Ball State on September 3, just over a week away. You might figure that whoever starts against Ball State will be the No. 1 guy.

You might be wrong. Wilson added a touch of mystery.

“We might get to that first game, a guy goes out first, that doesn’t mean he’s the starter. He just might be the guy going first. It will be interesting to see.

“Some guys are doing pretty well. There are good situations and bad situations. Some guys when the lights go on, they’re really different. Some guys the lights go on and they play better. Some don’t.

“As little as they have played, I don’t know if there will ever be an official announcement. We might just let it play out. I’m not trying to be coy. I’m not trying to hide anything. That’s where we’re at.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

IU Football Freshmen -- Redshirt or Play; Alexander Visits; Summitt a Fighter

You’ve heard all the talk from Kevin Wilson and his staff about freshman opportunity, that he’s not looking to redshirt these guys. If they can play, if they can make the two deep, they will play.

You’ve also heard about the previous emphasis from former coach Bill Lynch and his redshirt preference.

Is there really a change in philosophy?

To be honest, as opposed to being dishonest, which we only do when asked about who ate the chocolate chip cookies in the pantry, the philosophies are basically the same.

Lynch’s approach was this -– if you were good enough to start or get significant playing time as a freshman, you played. A guy like receiver Damarlo Belcher was proof of that. If not, you redshirted.

Wilson almost certainly will do the same thing. If, for instance, freshman tailback D’Angelo Roberts and freshman quarterback Tre Roberson can make a difference this year, and it seems certain they can, they will play. If not, they’ll redshirt.

“If they’re good enough to be in the 2-deep, we’re going to play them,” co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said. “If they’re going to make us a better team right now, they’ll play. We want to have success this year and continue to have success. If the kids can come in and earn a starting position or a backup job, we’ll get them on the field.”


Do you think IU could use a guy like Cliff Alexander, a 6-9, 240-pound member of the Class of 2014?

Sorry. We just had to ask. Of course the Hoosiers could use a big, powerful inside guy. It’s the one piece to the recruiting puzzle coach Tom Crean hasn’t nailed down. He’s gold with guards, swingmen and small forwards. But a beast in the middle, somebody who can dominate the paint like Jared Sullinger, that would be manna from heaven.

Is Alexander, who is from Chicago, that kind of guy? Can he do it at the college level? It’s hard to say, but he was good enough to play up a year, for the USA 2013 team, at the adidas Nations tourney in Los Angeles. You don’t do that unless you have something good to offer.

It doesn’t hurt that Indianapolis’ Trey Lyles, a very versatile big man who has already committed to IU for the Class of 2014, played on that same 2013 adidas team. Maybe Lyles can serve as an unofficial recruiter to help Alexander see the world in a Cream ‘n Crimson light.

Anyway, Alexander made an unofficial visit to IU on Wednesday, and reportedly received a scholarship offer. It’s not his first and won’t be his last given he’s a guy with the potential to be a top-25 player in his class.

The Hoosiers aren’t recruiting Alexander in a vacuum. Kentucky is in the picture, and when John Calipari gets involved, brace yourself for a battle. So are Ohio State and Illinois as those three programs loom as front runners. Pretty much anybody who’s anybody is also in the mix, including Michigan State, Connecticut and Kansas. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Stay tuned.

Oh, in case you missed it, ESPN still ranks Crean’s Class of 2012 -- Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Hanner Perea, Peter Jurkin and Ron Patterson -- as the nation’s best.

Yeah, that’s impressive.


The news broke with shocking surprise -- Pat Summitt has early onset dementia. The greatest women’s basketball coach in history (yes, you could argue for Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Standford’s Tara VanDerveer, the former Hoosier, but you would lose), seemed indestructible while turning Tennessee into a dynasty.

She’s won nearly 1,100 games, basically 200 more than men’s career leader Bob Knight, along with eight national titles and two Olympic medals, with a steely intensity few could match.

Let others succumb to age or mediocrity. She seemed, just like Knight, above all that.

Now we know that appearances are misleading. Time eventually gets to all of us and the fact Summitt is just 59 (she took the Tennessee job when she was 22) and dealing with this problem is a scary thought. If it can happen to her, who can’t it happen to?

The fact is, of course, that all of us are vulnerable. Some will be lucky. Some will not.

Summitt doesn’t want us to pity her. She’s lived a great life, insists that she still will. She plans to coach this season, and perhaps more. She will fight it as best she can, and if the weapons are reading and crossword puzzles, if that seems no match against a mysterious illness that destroys the brain bit by bit, who’s to say it won’t be enough.

Life threw Summitt a curve. She plans on doing what she’s always done -- smash the son of a bitch out of the park.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pick A Starter – IU Quarterback Battle Continues

Hey, you think picking a starting quarterback is easy? The guy has got to be accurate, lead the team, read the defense, make sure all his guys are lined up correctly, adjust the pass coverage and, perhaps, the play itself depending on the defense, not throw interceptions, not mess up and make plays.

Yeah, it’s a tough job, which is why, in the NFL, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the highest paid players. Only a select few can do all that well.

Of course, those guys have a ton of experience. IU coach Kevin Wilson doesn’t have that luxury. He has a pair of redshirt sophomores in Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel, who barely played behind Ben Chappell, and a true freshman in Tre Roberson.

Oh, they also have to run Wilson’s no-huddle, uptempo attack, which means they have to make decisions really, really fast. That means a smaller margin for error. So if you’re Wilson, you want to do everything you can to ensure you have the right guy for the job.

By the middle of the season, Roberson might, MIGHT, be ready. Very few true freshman quarterbacks can handle a starting role unless they participated in spring practice. Roberson didn’t.

For now it’s almost certainly a two-man race, with all indications that Wright-Baker has the edge.

That’s not etched in stone. Kiel could have a huge stretch and wind up the starter for the Sept. 3 season opener against Ball State.

In the meantime, all we have is mystery. Check that. We have inconsistency and then we have mystery.

“You see flashes,” Wilson said about the quarterback play. “Sometimes it’s not fair to them. When you’re rotating in with different receivers, timing, protection breaking down, young receivers not running routes, sometimes you get hung out to dry.

“I just see inconsistent play. I like a couple of guys. I think they’re doing okay. But I think we’ll hold tight before we say we know we got a guy for sure.”

As far as when coaches will know for sure, Wilson wouldn’t, perhaps couldn’t, say.

“I don’t know. I’m not trying to be coy or that it’s a secret deal. They’ve played so little, it’s not like all of a sudden it’s going to be a different game plan for our first opponent. I need to talk to our coaches. In two-a-days, we practice so much we don’t sit around and do a bunch of feel-good meetings and state-of-the-union type stuff.

“I’d like to get it done, but again, you think the guy is doing well, then all of sudden you see a couple of hiccups. Then, when you think a guy is struggling, Wow, a couple of nice plays. So it’s just a little inconsistent right now.”


If you want to catch the Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium this year, IU athletic director Fred Glass wants to give you a big hug.

Okay, Glass didn’t actually SAY that, but he is looking to sell out all the Hoosiers’ home football games, so everybody who helps make that happen will be his new best friend. While selling out the season probably won’t happen this year, he did say that season tickets sales are up.

“They’re running ahead of last year and last year was our best year since 1992,” he said. “I’m hoping that we’re going to have the best attendance in 20 years. That would be terrific, especially coming off a couple of tough seasons. There’s a lot of enthusiasm around Kevin and what he’s going and how the kids are feeling. I’m optimistic that the momentum we have with ticket sales will continue.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

IU's Glass Takes a Look at NCAA Reform

So here is Indiana athletic director Fred Glass, a man for all seasons, and this time of year that means football, well aware that change is coming to the college sports world.

Reform is a top priority, everything from cutting out the silly and unenforceable rules to basing postseason participation on meeting minimum academic standards to boosting the amount of scholarship money to include the full cost of going to college, and more.

This could be radical stuff, radical enough that Cedric Dempsey has said he sees a day when the landscape is ruled by four major conferences made up of high-resource universities (such as those in the Big Ten) breaking away from the NCAA and forming their own organization.

That leads to the obvious question -- who’s Cedric Dempsey? He’s the former president of the NCAA. He ran things from 1993 to 2002 when he was succeeded by IU President Myles Brand.

Anyway, while conference expansion could lead to four superpower conferences, that seems to be quite a ways into the future. As far as any group breaking away from the NCAA, Glass isn’t so sure.

“I supposed anything is a possibility and he’s a lot smarter about it than I am,” Glass said, “but it seems to me that most people want to stay together as the NCAA.

“It seems to me there are a lot of opportunities to create an environment where the high-resource universities get the kind of governing structure and regulatory structure they need, while enabling the less-resource universities to get what they need.”

Glass admitted a lot of work has to be done to ensure fairness among all the NCAA Division I members.

“Some of the reforms being talked about will create pressure between the haves and the have-nots,” he said. “Like deregulation (reducing the number of rules). It sounds good, especially when I’m chasing my tail running down things to the ground that don’t seem like we’re advancing the ball very much. But in a deregulated environment, who does that favor? It’s the got-bucks people who have the money to spend on something that was previously forboden. Now you can do it, so do you do it or not? Money might be a factor.

“The cost of attending college is the same thing. If a kid sees he can get an extra $3,000 at a high-resource school and zero at a less-resource school, and you’re sometimes competing for the same kids, especially in basketball, there is an impact. It’s a competitive impact and I’m sure the presidents will take that into account.”

They’ll take it into account fast. NCAA president Mark Emmert wants changes to be enacted as fast as possible. What does that mean? That’s a topic for a future blog.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is Running Back Rotation in IU’s Football Future?

Indiana has hit a wall in its quest to find the next Anthony Thompson for its rushing attack. Darius Willis can’t practice because of continuing issues with his surgically repaired knee, and everybody else is young and inexperienced.

So what is a coach to do?

Here’s the good news -- IU has some talented guys, and if they don’t boast All-America skills, so what. That describes most teams. The Hoosiers don’t need that to win. They do need tailbacks who can get the tough yards, block when necessary and hold onto the ball.

At least there’s plenty of depth, and with the pace coach Kevin Wilson wants to play, it will get tested.

Stephen Houston put up impressive junior college numbers, and at 6-foot and 228 pounds, he has Big Ten-caliber size. True freshman D’Angelo Roberts is swift and elusive, although at 5-10 and 187 pounds he’s the smallest of the running backs. Redshirt freshman Matt Perez and sophomore Nick Turner have potential.

Those are the top contenders right now, or as coach Kevin Wilson put it, “It’s a four-headed horse right now.”

After Saturday’s super secret scrimmage, the word was the horse lost a head. Houston, Roberts and Perez are now the guys.

Heading into the scrimmage, Wilson had fumbling concerns.

“Some of them look pretty good, but they don’t hold onto the ball when they get hit a little bit,” he said. “We’re trying to correct that with different means -- you don’t play or you have a little penance if you put the ball on the ground. That’s the quickest way to lose games. More games are lost than are won.”

Those corrections apparently paid dividends in the scrimmage. According to Wilson via IU Athletics, ball security wasn’t a problem. There weren’t any fumbles or interceptions, which was good considering there were 130 snaps, including 65 involving the first and second units.

As far as Perez, Roberts and Houston, Wilson said via an athletic department video that, “They can do better in learning and recognition, but they did take care of the ball.”

As far as Willis, it’s looking more and more like he’ll never be the player his potential suggested. Injuries have ruined plenty of careers in every sport. Some guys can stay injury free. Some can’t. Willis hasn’t been healthy since he arrived in Bloomington. Maybe that will change. It’s not too late for him. He does have two more years of eligibity remaining, and there are two more weeks before the Sept. 3 season opener against Ball State. He can get healthy and start dominating. But the Hoosiers aren’t waiting on him. So Perez, Roberts and Houston get the bulk of the practice reps and the only certainty is that the guy who gives IU the best chance to win will play the most.


Remember Steve Downing, the former Hoosier basketball standout who once burned Kentucky for 47 points and 25 rebounds, the guy who won Big Ten MVP honors in 1973 by averaging a double double (20.1 points, 10.6 rebounds)?

He’s back in Indiana, the home state he left to stay close to former IU coach Bob Knight when Knight was fired by the university and took the Texax Tech job a decade ago. Now Downing is the athletic director at Marian University in Indianapolis. It’s a NAIA school with more than 400 athletes in 21 sports.


We get it. The Big Ten won’t expand unless it has to. Conference officials made that point clear last December, and nothing has changed. Except it almost did change with Texas A&M pushing for SEC acceptance. The SEC said no -– for now –- but Texas A&M has made it clear it’s had it with the Big 12 Conference and Texas. It will eventually find a new conference and when it does, a shakeup will occur.

Will it be enough to trigger a major expansion push?

Anything is possible, but logic suggests, yes. More expansion is coming, probably within the next five years, perhaps sooner. Change is part of life, especially in the whirlwind that has become college athletics.

So while the Big Ten released a statement saying it is not actively engaged in expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, that won’t mean much if the other power conferences start expanding.

Make that “when” they start expanding.

Still, for now the Big Ten is happy with the addition of Nebraska.

“We’re about as comfortable as we can be with where we are,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. “We’ve said we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion and have no plans to seek new members.”

So that’s where it stands – for now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

IU Quarterback Alert – Will Somebody Please Win the Job

Kevin Wilson pulled no punches. Did you expect anything less?

The Indiana football coach is honest and blunt. He seems incapable of sugar coating anything, especially when it comes to quarterback play.

IU needs to find a capable quarterback. There is no way Wilson’s “Win-Today” plan can work without one. But the problem is, nobody has emerged. Yes, that is a problem, but still a manageable one. Come Sept. 3, when the Hoosiers open their season against Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium, that has to change.

“We’re a long way from having a good (quarterback),” Wilson said.

Dusty Kiel, Edward Wright-Baker and Tre Roberson have separated themselves, with no takers yet. After nearly two weeks of practice, Wilson still waits to be impressed.

“Either our defense is really good, or our quarterbacks really are not very good. It’s one or the other. We don’t get open and we don’t throw it to them, so we’re just okay. We’re not good enough. None of them are. It’s not negative. It’s not worried. They’re not close to what they ought to be yet.”

This might sound like coach using the media to fire up his guys. Not so, Wilson insisted.

“They don’t read the paper, so I ain’t trying to motivate them. I’ve already talked to them. They’ve already been motivated. We just need to be better there.”

At times, Roberson has looked the best (he’s the best playmaker of the bunch), which is a problem given he’s a true freshman still trying to grasp the complexities of the college game. Kiel and Wright-Baker are redshirt sophomores. They’ve played a little and experienced a lot. They should be doing better, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said.

“I expect more out of Dusty and Ed because they’ve had a spring here,” Smith said. “I want them to be further along from an execution standpoint. It’s frustrating because my expectations are higher, maybe more than what theirs are.”

Smith said if a quarterback isn't named until the day before the season opener, they'll handle it.

"We've been doing this a long time. (Needing to name a starter now) is way overblown. It's who gives the team the best chance to win. That's who you go with."


Remember Darius Willis, the often injured running back who just can’t stay healthy. Wilson said Willis, “Still hasn’t run any plays yet” because of an unspecified injury. He also said he doesn’t know when Willis will serve his one-game suspension because he hasn't practiced enough to be able to play a game yet.

Also, three walk-ons got some big news –- they are now on scholarship. Receiver Dre Muhammad, linebacker Brandon McGhee and kicker Nick Freeland got the news this week. Defensive back Greg Heban had earlier been put on a scholarship.


It’s official. IU will have a new $19.8 million baseball/softball complex. No, this does not mean that baseball coach Tracy Smith is doing cartwheels across campus in celebration, although if he did, few could blame him. He’s waited a long time for this moment.

It will come courtesy of the IU Board of Trustees, which approved construction on what now serves as intramural fields just north of the IU Tennis Center and Mellencamp Pavilion. Yes, it still has to be approved by a few other committees and commissions, but those are just formalities. Construction is set to begin in 2012 and the facility should be ready for the 2013 season.

The project is fully funded through private donations and athletic department funds. Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects of Indianapolis will design the complex.

Sembower Field, the Hoosiers’ current baseball facility, was fine when it was built in 1951, but it had long ago become outdated. Former coach Bob Morgan had spent years pushing for a new stadium. Smith arrived in 2005 after being promised a new stadium was in the works, only to run into delay after delay. Softball coach Michelle Gardner ran into the same problem after she was hired in 2008.

The delays are over.

“Given all the effort by those well before me and those I’ve had the good fortune to work with side by side the past few years, I am beyond grateful to be part of a the group that gets to usher in a ‘new era’ of Indiana baseball,” Smith said in a university release.

“This stadium not only represents the future of our program, but it also represents the dedication of those who worked so hard for so many years to make this stadium a reality. I can’t thank Fred Glass, President McRobbie and the IU Board of Trustees enough for their commitment to our program.”

Glass, IU’s athletic director, had worked to come up with the money to pay for the project after funds originally allocated for it were used up to complete renovations to Memorial Stadium and the building of Cook Hall.

To keep costs down, the complex was set to be built where Sembower Field and the softball field are now. However, officials liked the idea of putting it by the by-pass to create a striking entrance to IU’s entire sports complex that includes Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall. The cost was still to high, so Smith and Gardner agreed to keep their offices in Assembly Hall rather than have new, elaborate ones built into the new facility. That cut enough costs to make the move to the intramural field site possible.

“The new baseball/softball facility will allow both teams to compete at the highest level, further demonstrating IU athletics’ commitment to enhancing the experience of our student-athletes, and delivering on a promise made to both programs several years ago,” Glass said in the release.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fixing College Athletics One Severe Penalty At A Time; IU Baseball Update

Could it get any worse for college athletics? Every time you look, there’s some scandal or controversy brewing.

Ohio State, Miami, North Carolina, Tennessee, USC, Oregon, Auburn, Georgia Tech, LSU Michigan ... the list of schools either sanctioned or investigated by the NCAA goes on without any sign of stopping.

It's probably the worst period in the history of college athletics.

The NCAA wants major reform, and wants it ASAP. Texas A&M wants out of the Big 12 because it finally realized how bad a deal Texas' Longhorn Network will be for the rest of the conference teams. Despite rejecting Texas A&M overtures now, the SEC seems poised to expand to 14 teams. Commissioners from the Big East, Big 12 and ACC are likely to meet to discuss conference realignment as a preemptive strike against possible raids by other conferences.

And then there’s the University of Miami booster fiasco, brought to light by a well-researched piece by Yahoo! Sports writer Charles Robinson. If true, and the NCAA is investigating, it could bring down at least the Hurricanes’ football program, and perhaps the entire athletic department. If all these millions of dollars of extra-benefit allegations really did happen –- paying for strip clubs, night clubs, prostitutes and meals; access to a $6 million Miami Beach mansion; cash payments; and more –- it might even put Miami out of the college sports business.

Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing on these guys.

Yes, we know. Not even Baylor’s attempted basketball murder coverup was enough to shut down the program, but that was in a more forgiving era. It’s gotten so bad now, you almost have to figure everybody cheats, just some are better at it than others.

That’s a shame.

NCAA president Mark Emmert says he wants to clean up the mess, starting with fewer regulations. He wants the rules that stick (involving major transgressions) to have penalties so severe, making the fear of getting caught cheating so strong, that nobody will risk breaking them.

That’s easy to say, not so easy to do, but Emmert and university presidents seem more determined than ever to change a culture that has produced scandal after scandal in recent months.

So what would be severe enough to keep everybody in line?

If the so-called “Death Penalty” is too extreme, how about a five-year postseason ban for any major violation? Make the head coach totally responsible for ANY violation in his/her program, whether or not he was aware of it, and any major violation results in his being fired and a two-year show-cause penalty instituted. In other words, he can’t coach in college for two years.

To balance that, allow more off-season access between coaches and players. If coaches are going to have more accountability, they should have more time with their players. Provide some balance -– players do need a break from coaching pressure –- but scrap a system that if a coach walks into a weight room to ask a player about how he’s doing in a summer class, it’s a secondary violation. Use common sense.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need regulations because nobody would cheat. But in this world, with competition and money at all-time highs, everybody seeks an edge. It’s human nature. No matter what rules you make, somebody will try to beat them. Look at the battle between those who use performance enhancing drugs and those who test for them.

Sometimes fear is the only thing that works. Scare enough people badly enough and you get results. Otherwise, well, we’ve seen that option, and it stinks.


For those who stay up at night thinking about IU baseball and softball (TOTALLY PROFESSIONAL PITCH -- we wrote a book on IU baseball called “Hoosier Hitmen,” and an ad to buy the book just happens to be posted on this blog), consider the board of trustees is considering a basically $20 million proposal to build a new baseball and softball complex at what is now the intramural fields next to the old state police post and just north of the IU tennis facililty.

The baseball-softball complex would be one of the showpieces for the entire athletic facility, and it would put the Hoosiers on at least equal footing with their Big Ten rivals. That hasn’t been true in half a century.

Baseball coach Tracy Smith likes the location of the current baseball facility, Sembower Field, because it’s so close to student dorms. He has concerns about the traffic noise coming from the expanded by-pass. But he’s not about to quibble over a long-delayed, much-anticipated, multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art new ballpark.

Assuming the board of trustees gives it the green light, the complex should be finished by 2013. The only thing better would be a jam-packed stadium full of fans waving copies of Hoosier Hitmen to distract opposing players.

Did we mention that Hoosier Hitmen is the greatest book about IU baseball EVER written, and why buy one when you can buy 10?

We say that with total objectivity.

Monday, August 15, 2011

IU Quarterback Battle – And Then There Were Three

Adam Follett and Teddy Schell are out as possible starting quarterbacks.

Are you shocked?

Let’s face it. They’re hard workers and nice guys, but they had no chance in this competition.

That means it’s down to redshirt sophomores Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel, and true freshman Tre Roberson.

Roberson has more dual-threat ability than the other two, but he has a ton to learn as far as learning the Hoosiers’ offense, let alone reading all the opposing defenses set to come. True freshmen can become instant starters at other positions. Quarterback is too tough to do that unless, like Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame, you graduated high school early, enrolled in college for the second semester and participated in spring practice.

Figure if Roberson does become the starter, it will be several games into the season when he’s had more time to adapt and learn.

As far as who’s ahead between Kiel and Wright-Baker, Wright-Baker appears to have the edge. He showed good accuracy and running ability during Monday night’s open practice. Kiel didn't look as sharp.

Yes, that "open practice" comment was not a typo. Wilson opened the last half of practice for those who attended the final tailgate tour event on the IU campus. Under Wilson, practices are closed to the public at all times. The media can view a few early minutes in selected practices.

Also, does tailback Darius Willis have a future with the Hoosiers? He might if he could ever get healthy, but that hasn’t happened, and maybe never will. Injuries cut short his first two seasons and leave his future prospects uncertain. He missed all of spring practice, and has yet to practice in August camp.

That means junior college transfer Stephen Houston, redshirt freshman Matt Perez, sophomore Nick Turner and true freshman D’Angelo Roberts are vying for the No. 1 tailback spot.

Roberts looked good Monday night. Could he emerge as the starting tailback? Well, he's listed at 5-10 and 187 pounds. It's hard to see him taking the pounding Big Ten backs as the main guy, and that includes blocking, but as part of a rotation, where he gets 10 to 12 touches a game including catching passes, he could be very effective.


Gary Harris keeps impressing people. Now the Hamilton Southeastern basketball standout is up to No. 13 in the latest Class of 2012 Top 100 list. Nobody else in the state of Indiana is ranked higher.

Harris remains a top target of Indiana and coach Tom Crean. Already committed to IU from that class are No. 32 Hanner Perea, No. 33 Yogi Ferrell (he should be ranked higher, but nobody asked us) and No. 37 Jeremy Hollowell. IU’s two other commitments in this class –- Peter Jurkin and Ron Patterson –- didn’t make the top 100.

Remember Mitch McGary? The former Chesterton standout and now prep school standout has moved up to No. 3 in the Class of 2012 behind Shabazz Muhammad and Andre Drummond.


For all Indiana baseball fans, take a deep breath. The new baseball stadium, long promised and never fulfilled, is closing in on reality.


Athletic director Fred Glass will submit a “fully funded” proposal to the IU Board of Trustees on Thursday in Indianapolis. He expects the board to pass it.

IU officials have talked about building a new baseball stadium since Moses parted the Red Sea and …

Sorry. It only seems that long. Former coach Bob Morgan pushed for a new facility for a long time. Current coach Tracy Smith took the job with the promise one would soon be built. It was part of the original $55 million athletic facilities project that was approved in 2006. But the money was used up by renovations to Memorial Stadium and the construction of Cook Hall.

But now the funding for a new baseball stadium, as well as a new softball facility, is in place. The project is likely to cost around $13 million and will be built at Sembower Field, which is Smith’s preference because it's in the middle of campus and surrounded by dorms, so students have easy access. The original proposal had new facilities being constructed near the old state police post near the bypass.


If you care, and even if you don’t, IU women’s volleyball coach Sherry Dunbar has a firm grip on job security. She agreed to a five-year extension that runs through the 2017 season. She enters her fifth season with a career record of 185-83.

The Hoosiers reached the Sweet 16 round last season, the best performance in school history. They beat eventual national champ Penn State.

Dunbar gets a base salary of $141,705.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

IU CB Coach Wants His Guys To ‘Find a Way;’ BTN Returns; Last Thought On Wilson Vs. Radio Dudes

Brandon Shelby plays mind games with his guys. He admits it. He pushes it. No, Indiana’s cornerbacks coach isn’t some control freak looking to torture the players under his command. But he does want them ready for what they’ll face in the Big Ten.

Receivers, quarterbacks and offensive coordinators spend a lot of time and energy trying to make life miserable for defensive backs. And if you’ve seen Indiana’s sieve-like pass defense in recent years, you know how miserable life can be.

Shelby wants his cornerbacks tough enough to handle the heat. He’s part of a new group of IU coaches trying to turn the program’s perennially poor unit into something capable of thriving against Big Ten offenses.

So what kind of mind games does he play?

Glad you asked.

“I tell them, it’s hot, you’re tired, are you going to quit,” he says. “Are you going to give up? That guy (the receiver) won’t quit. You’ve got to find a way to push. That separates an average team from a good team.

“When we played USC, they had a confidence that said, ‘It’s only a matter of time before something good is going to happen. Whether it’s return a punt or intercept a pass, something is going to happen.’

“That’s what you have to do. Is it going to be you making a play or are you going to wait for the other guy to get it done? As a corner, we want the ball thrown our way. Throw a fade on me in the fourth quarter. Either we win or lose. Accept it after that.”

More often than not in the annuals of IU defense, that meant losing. Last year Indiana gave up 27 passing touchdowns, which ranked among the worst in the Big Ten. You could blame the secondary, and many did, but the problem was deeper than that.

“It’s all tied together,” Shelby said. “The D-line has to do a good job of pressuring the quarterback. The corners have to hold the receivers off early so we can get pressure on the quarterback. It’s a team effort. You can’t start dividing up.

“We gave up a lot of touchdowns last year, but how many sacks and pressures did we have. That makes a difference. It’s all one unit. The corners didn’t give up 27 touchdowns, the defense did. I don’t separate the two. You can’t say, he did that. No. What did you do to make him do that? It’s about accountability. You can’t just preach it. You’ve got to show them what it is.

“I will say this. In our (cornerbacks meeting) room, we want accountability for our position. I don’t want to hear a lot of excuses. We’re going to get the job done and do it at a high level. The best people will play, young or old.”


BTN (previously known as the Big Ten Network) showed up at Indiana on Sunday as part of its tour across the Big Ten. Former IU coach Gerry DiNardo was there for BTN along with Dave Revsine and Howard Griffith. They interviewed coach Kevin Wilson and several players, including standout receiver Damarlo Belcher.

The Hoosiers hit two-a-day practices hard this week, starting on Monday. Wilson is set to talk during Monday’s eighth and final Tailgate Tour stop at the DeVault Alumni Center across 17th Street from Memorial Stadium. The event starts at 5:30.


A final thought on Wilson and last week’s radio dust up with those who shall remain nameless. Some have praised Wilson for defending the program. Some have ripped him for being a jerk. In the end, it’s about perspective and winning.

Mostly, it’s about winning, but for perspective consider that Wilson is a competitive guy who takes pride in the job he does and the places he works for. Bad mouth the Indiana program and he goes into Father Bear mode.

Is this wrong?

You have to be passionate in what you do. In sports, it’s often about being more man -– or more woman –- than the other guy. It’s about imposing your will on your opponent. You’ve got to be tough to do that. You have to be ruthless -– within the rules. There’s a reason why Michael Jordan won all those NBA championships and it’s not because he was gentle and sensitive.

Wilson is trying to get the Hoosiers to buy into that and finish the darn game, something they haven’t done in decades. You don’t submit, you dictate. It’s an attitude. It’s a belief. It’s a self confidence.

IU football hasn’t had that since the Bill Mallory glory days. Can they regain it under Wilson? Performance will determine that. Everything else is just hot air.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In The Know? Hoosier Deep Throat On Gary Harris, And More

We had just checked out the latest implosion of our investment portfolio –- guess we love to torture ourselves –- when the phone rang. The voice was hoarse and raspy, as if its owner had spent the last hour arguing with Zac and Jack. Or is it Jack and Zac? Or Jack and Zakk? We can’t keep those radio dudes straight and, to be honest, we don’t want to.

Anyway, it was Hoosier Deep Throat.

“Can you keep a secret?” he asked.

“It depends on what the secret is?” we said, making no promises we couldn’t keep.”

“It’s about Gary Harris,” the voice said, referring to the much-sought-after Class of 2012 recruit.

We hesitated. The truth is such a burden.

“We won’t tell a soul,” we said.

We met at the usual parking garage a few minutes after midnight. It was hot and humid. Someone had removed the garage lights and darkness pressed in like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. Smoke was thick in the air. The tip of a cigarette glowed from the darkness of a corner.

“Thought you’d quit smoking,” we said.

A dark shape shifted in the shadows. “Too much to worry about with Gary Harris and this Class of 2012 drama.”

“What drama? Tom Crean has reeled in probably the nation’s best basketball class. Cody Zeller is ready for his freshman debut. Glory days are coming.”

“Maybe,” Deep Throat said. “We gotta get Harris.”

Harris, a 6-6 shooting guard from Hamilton Southeastern ranked No. 28 nationally, has said he’ll take his official visits this fall before making a decision, probably in late October. It’s the same path Zeller took last year. It's great intrigue, but do we need more of than in a world that includes Carlos Zambrano?

“IU is a finalist,” we said. “Crean is all over this. He goes to Harris’ basketball games, workouts, football games and everywhere else he’s allowed to by NCAA rules. The man is a recruiting force of nature.”

“Yeah, but Purdue worries me. Michigan State worries me. The teenage mind worries me.”

A cigarette butt hit the concrete floor. Another cigarette was lit. Hoosier Deep Throat inhaled deeply.

“That’s a nasty habit,” we said.

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

Something flittered in the darkness above our heads and we got just enough of a glimpse to ID it –- a bat. Hoosier Deep Throat jumped back as if he’d been head butted.

“You need to relax,” we said. “If these were less politically correct times, we’d suggest you have a shot of rock-gut whiskey.”

Something flew out of the darkness. We caught it one-handed, just like Dallas Clark. It was a shot glass. We took a sniff. Rock-gut whiskey.

“It ain’t helping,” Hoosier Deep Throat said.

A car alarm went off in the distance. Was it just by chance or were deeper, darker forces at work, not that we were being paranoid just because we were alone in the dark with a mysterious, chain smoker.

“Forget Harris for a second,” we said. “Even if he doesn’t come to IU, Crean is loaded for the Class of 2012. There’s nothing to worry about. The program is headed in the right direction.”

Deep Throat took another drag of the cigarette. “Yogi Ferrell is the best guy in this class, first because IU has to have a true point guard, second because he’s really good. Jeremy Hollowell had a great summer. His casualness had worried me for a while, but he seems to have figured it out now. He can be a dominant player if he keeps it up. Hanner Perea is very athletic, but he needs to develop his skills. He’s a hard-working kid, so I’m sure he will. Crean and his staff will help with that once he gets to campus.”

A woman giggled from the street. A guy murmured in response. College romance was at work. Hoosier Deep Throat didn’t care.

“Peter Jurkin has been injured for what seems like forever,” he said. “That’s valuable development time he’s missed, and he needed development. Who knows how much he’ll be able to help when he gets to college. Ron Patterson having issues with his summer travel ball teams smacks of immaturity. I know he's young, and we were all young and didn't know what we didn't now. There's time for him to figure it out. Still, there are high maintenance guys, low maintenance guys and no maintenance guys. Crean has a big enough challenge without dealing with a high-maintenance guy, no matter how talented he might be.”

Another cigarette butt flew out of the darkness.

“It’s going to work out,” we said. “Crean and his staff can handle it. Now what do you got on Harris?”

Silence was as thick as the smoke. For a moment we wondered if Hoosier Deep Throat had left.

“Harris is a football player," he said at last. "That means he's really tough. A lot of basketball players don't want to mess with contact. The fact he does really says a lot. We gotta get a guy like that.

"He will pick the place that best fits his talents, that gives him the best chance to thrive and play for a winner, the place he feels most comfortable at with the coaches and players,” he said.

A long pause. Maybe stating the obvious had exhausted him.

“Crean is on such a recruiting roll it’s hard to imagine him losing on this,” Hoosier Deep Throat whispered. “But there’s only one way to know how this will end. Only one way to be sure."

"What's that?"

Somewhere in the darkness, a basketball bounced.

And then Hoosier Deep Throat was gone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Taking No Guff – Fiesty Wilson Won’t Turn Other Cheek

Reality TV shows Housewives of New Jersey or Los Angeles or Whatever had nothing on the drama unexpectedly erupting during IU football coach Kevin Wilson’s Thursday morning radio interview with Jack Trudeau and Dominic Zaccagnini on WNDE 1260 AM out of Indianapolis.

Trudeau (a former Illinois quarterback whose kid goes to IU) and Zaccagnini tried to be funny with their introduction -- playing the school fight song while joking about Indiana’s lack of football success -- before putting Wilson on the air. Wilson took that as disrespecting the program, and it was on.

Wilson said Zac and Jack “didn’t have a clue.” He said he’s a busy man with practice to deal with and players to develop, and he didn’t have time to talk with guys who say Indiana doesn’t have any football tradition. In other words, he won’t mess with fools. He said past failures had nothing to do with future successes. He talked about having pride in the programs he’s coached at before (Miami of Ohio, Northwestern and Oklahoma), and pride in an IU program he hopes to turn around.

Trudeau took offense and said he “didn’t appreciate” Wilson’s attitude and that Wilson’s coments were “not fair.” He said he was “shocked” Wilson came on the show “with an attitude.” He said IU’s program “stinks,” that Wilson’s comments were “pathetic” and that he will tell Illinois coach Ron Zook to “pound” the Hoosiers when the teams play in Bloomington on Oct. 8.

In the end, either Wilson hung up on them or they hung up on him. Either way, it rocketed around the digital world.

Isn’t the male ego an amazing thing? Guys get their feelings hurt, feel slighted or disrespected, and WWE breaks out.

Is this bad?

Are you kidding?

Suddenly IU football has another jolt of buzz after things had slowed following the Gunner Kiel commitment. People are talking Hoosier football, and for a perennially struggling program, this is a good thing. It’s EXACTLY what Wilson wanted. He got his message out, promoted his program and generated plenty of publicity.

Of course, August is the time for this kind of stuff. After that, you gotta put up and perform.

Still, can you feel the anticipation build?

As far as the radio war, the manly thing would be for Trudeau and Wilson to settle this via arm wrestling for charity. Or badminton. Or chess. Or one-arm pushups. Or yoddling. Whatever.

Competition is great for the soul, and Wilson is a competitive guy. So is Trudeau. Both speak their minds. This is the perfect recipe for conflict, and as any writer will tell you, conflict fuels drama, drama is the essence of stories, and that’s what people want. There’s a reason why fairy tales end at happily ever after. Nobody wants to see, hear or read about how wonderful everything is.

Right now, wonderful is not part of the Hoosiers’ program. It’s about potential and possibilities. We’ll see if Wilson can get his team to play to its ability, and perhaps just a little more. We’ll see if he can win. IU football history says no, but history won’t play games this season. Teams do, players will, and for now, all things are possible. And if radio drama furthers the Cream ‘n Crimson cause, all the better.

Who needs Housewives of Atlanta when you have Coach vs. Commentators.

Is Freshman Remy Abell Part of IU’s Point Guard Answer?

Can Remy Abell take up some of Indiana’s point guard burden?

Perhaps. The freshman says he has the background to handle it. The Hoosiers certainly have a need for it.

“The first position I ever played was at point guard,” he said. “Then as I grew older and moved into middle school and high school, I was moved to the wing. I kind of have point guard abilities, but I got moved and have some scoring abilities. I would say I’m a wing or two (shooting guard) who can play the point.

“Wherever they put me, I’m going to be ready to play.”

That’s important because, let’s face it, Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones are not Indiana’s point guard answer against Big Ten opponents. Both are more shooting guards. Hulls is an exceptional three-point and free throw shooter. Jones has a strong mid-range game. Those are their strengths and if IU is to return to its winning ways this season, it has to have guys play to their strengths and not their weaknesses.

The 6-4 Abell brings plenty of intrigue. He was supposed to go to Bradley, but then the coach was fired, he reopened his recruiting and wound up with the Hoosiers. He’s a tough-minded player who can get to the basket (“I definitely like to get to the basket. That’s a strength I use,” he said). Fellow freshman Austin Etherington knows all about that. The 6-7 guard has spent the summer trying to stop Abell’s penetration.

“Remy isn’t easy to stop going to the basket,” Etherington said. “He’s quick and has the ability to shoot. He’s hard to guard.”

Added heralded freshman Cody Zeller: “He’s definitely a good penetrator. One of the best things he does is he can finish.”

Abell admits he’s not the shooter that Etherington is, but that he is working on it.

“I’m trying to get a lot of shots up. I’ve been improving a little bit, so it has really been helping.”

Abell understands he has much to learn. That started this spring, and will pick up once school begins and coaches can start working with players.

“In high school you are the star of your team, but here as a freshman, you are kind of starting at the bottom and have to prove yourself and play even harder.”

If Abell can deal with the upgrade in work and intensity that college demands, if he can handle major college defenses and pressure, and mostly, if he can make good decisions and get the ball to the right guys at the right time, he will be a major impact player as a freshman.

And that will be a HUGE plus in what looms as IU’s return-to-winning-ways season.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Running Big – IU in Search of Running Back Breakthrough

While coach Kevin Wilson has been known for producing prolific passing attacks, he hasn’t neglected the rushing attack during his years as an offensive coordinator (see Adrian Peterson for Exhibit A). A good running game is crucial at any time, but especially this year given IU’s quarterback inexperience.

The Hoosiers have a lot of running backs to choose from, although who the favorite is remains uncertain.

For the record, Wilson has junior college transfer Stephen Houston (a 1,000-yard rusher last year) and true freshman D’Angelo Roberts (he rushed for 6,002 yards and 75 touchdowns in high school) joining a banged-up bunch of veterans. Darius Willis, Antonio Banks and Xavier Whitaker all had season-ending injuries and missed spring practice. Matt Perez also is coming off a knee injury. Indications are they are healthy and ready to knock each other around.

Willis was recruited to be the dominant tailback the program needed, and has shown flashes of that when he's healthy. Given that he's an injury waiting to happen, the odds of him making it through a full season are unlikely. Still, he’s rushed for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career.

Also in the hunt are Nick Turner and David Blackwell, who got the bulk of the spring work because everybody else was hurt. That doesn’t count fullback, where Wilson has moved D.J. Carr-Watson from linebacker to fullback. Redshirt freshman Leneil Himes will battle Carr-Watson for the fullback spot.

Still, there is potential with this group. Wilson plans to utilize that depth.

“Unlike quarterback, I think you do need more than one running back because they wear out and lose some gas,” Wilson said. “I don’t know that we have seven guys we can jog out there and be starers, but I think we’ll have two or three.”


IU has 17 football commitments now that Ohio safety Sebastian Smith has picked the Cream ‘n Crimson.

Smith has been extremely versatile in high school. He’s played safety, linebacker and cornerback, plus has done a ton of special teams work. He’s not the biggest guy at 6-3 and 185 pounds, but he can bench press 315 pounds and can break 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Indiana was the only school to offer a scholarship, but Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State, Iowa, Kentucky and Minnesota were interested.


Yes, IU's basketball program could have used Mitch McGary. The guy is big (6-10, 250 pounds), athletic and has made a huge ratings jump. He’s the No. 5 guy in the Class of 2012 according to

For a lot of reasons, a union between McGary and Indiana apparently wasn’t a good fit, both from McGary’s standpoint and from IU’s. It happens. He had some academic issues while at Chesterton High School, but got those resolved at Brewster Academy. He had become more disciplined both in terms of his academics and his basketball. In other words, he had matured. After backing off for a while, Hoosier coaches did seem to show renewed interest during the July evaluation period.

If you believe ESPN and, McGary’s maturity has produced a six-school final list. Kentucky is on it. So are North Carolina, Michigan (which seems to be on everybody’s list these days), Maryland, Duke and Florida. Those are some impressive heavyweights.

Anyway, the Hoosiers already have loaded up inside in the Class of 2012 with forward Hanner Perea and center Peter Jurkin. They have one more target in the class and he’s a big one –- Gary Harris of Hamilton Southeastern. Purdue and Michigan State appear to be IU’s biggest rivals for this guy. Figure he'll wait until late October to announce his decision.

Monday, August 8, 2011

IU Recruiting Rolls On; Yogi Thrives; Dickerson a Fan Favorite

Okay, landing the nation’s No. 1 rated pro-style quarterback hasn’t launched Indiana on a football recruiting frenzy for super studs.

Is that a problem?

Only if you’re obsessed with numbers.

Landing quarterback Gunner Kiel of Columbus put IU on the radar of a lot of standout players, but it hasn’t caused an upsurge in high-profile guys committing to IU.

The Hoosiers have four other commitments that are ranked in the top-75 nationally at their positions –- No. 75 receiver Kevin Davis, No. 44 offensive lineman Dan Feeney, No. 33 linebacker Nick Mangieri and No. 8 offensive lineman Wes Rogers.

That doesn’t mean that getting Kiel won’t boost IU’s recruiting. These things take time. Recruiting is first and foremost about relationships. Then comes playing time and winning potential and all the other things that go into it.

Still, coach Kevin Wilson is getting solid players. Ten commits from the Class of 2012 are considered at least 2-star (out of 5 stars) talent. Sure, IU beat out the likes of Alabama and Notre Dame to get Kiel, but that’s not ever going to be the norm. The Hoosiers must get good players and develop them into outstanding ones. If they do, they will win, get to bowl games and maybe, just maybe, sell out Memorial Stadium without the benefit of opposing fans showing up.

IU got its 16th oral commitment for the Class of 2012 when Carmel defensive end Shawn Heffern picked IU. Heffern, at least right now, is a no-star guy. That gives the Hoosiers nine commitments from the state of Indiana in this class alone.

Yes, Wilson wasn’t kidding when he said he’d target in-state players.

Purdue, Western Michigan, Toledo and Central Michigan also offered scholarships to the 6-6, 240-pound Heffern.

Monday was the first day of practice, and Wilson was hoping for more from his players, which is what you’d expect from a demanding coach trying to win now and not later. Tuesday is IU’s media day during which inquiring minds will try to determine who will win the starting quarterback job -– Dusty Kiel (Gunner’s older brother), Edward Wright-Baker or Tre Roberson.

That likely won’t be determined -– at least officially –- until the end of the month.


Yogi Ferrell dominated with 15 points and 14 assists in the nationally televised adidas Nations tourney. That's EXACTLY what you'd hope for from a stud point guard and EXACTLY what IU needs in the future. Actually, the Hoosiers need it now.


Indiana will take on North Carolina State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Hoosiers will travel to North Carolina State for the Nov. 30 basketball game. ESPN2 will televise it.

Highlighting the Big Ten/ACC Challenge will be Duke at Ohio State on Nov. 29 and Wisconsin at North Carolina on Nov. 30. The Tar Heels are very, very lucky they don’t have to play at the Kohl Center.

Six of these teams are ranked in’s early preseason top-25 basketball poll. They are No. 1 North Carolina, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Duke, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 21 Florida State and No. 23 Michigan.

The Big Ten has won the last two Challenges after the ACC won the first 10.


In the big picture, it doesn’t mean much, but former IU baseball player Alex Dickerson has won the 2011 Premier Player of College baseball trophy. It goes to the winner of a national fan vote, and Dickerson was the man this year.

Dickerson led IU in hitting (.367), home runs (9), runs batted in (49), slugging percentage (.540) and on-base percentage. That was a follow-up to the 2010 season when he won the Big Ten triple crown for hitting, home runs and runs batted in.

Dickerson is now playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ single-A affiliate team. Right now the Pirates could really, really use a good hitter.

IU Basketball Recruits Get Spotlight Moment Tonight

If you want to check out IU basketball recruits Yogi Ferrell, Trey Lyles and Jeremy Hollowell, you’re in luck. These guys will be playing in nationally televised games tonight courtesy of CBS College Sports Network. Why? Because their teams reached the final games of the adidas Nations tourney.

The third-place game, which will feature Ferrell and Lyles on the USA 2012 Red squad, is set to start at 7 p.m. The title game will follow that contest and will showcase Hollowell, who is on the USA 2013 Red team.

In his last two games Ferrell totaled 22 points and 17 assists, which is what you’d like to see from your point guard.

Also, forward Hanner Perea, a Hoosier commitment from the Class of 2012, participated in the event. He had 16 points and six rebounds in the one game he played before a concussion sidelined him for the rest of the weekend.

Finally, Hamilton Southeastern standout Gary Harris was his usual consistent self in the Nike Global Challenge in Oregon. Harris averaged 12 points in three games. That average would have been better if he hadn’t sprained his ankle in the second half of Sunday night’s title game win over Canada.

Indiana and Purdue are among the teams targeting this Class of 2012 standout.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

IU Football -- Win Close, Win Big; Green Passes On Hoosiers

Now that football practice is almost here, consider the mystery that is Indiana. Can it win in coach Kevin Wilson’s debut season? Will that elusive bowl trip become a reality? And who the heck will be the starting quarterback?

The quarterback answer figures to come down to Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright Baker. Heralded freshman Tre Roberson might make a move, but that likely wouldn’t come until midseason. Quarterback is too demanding a position for a true freshman to figure it out in just a few weeks of preseason camp.

As far as the other two questions, that can be boiled down to this -- What does IU have to do to get to the next level and become a winning program?

Wilson has an answer.

“We’ve got to win those close games,” he said. “Every week it’s nip and tuck. Winners do the little things. For instance, last year we won the turnover battle in two games. The No. 1 factor in winning is turnovers. So we should have been 2-10. Instead, we still won five games with the most critical thing going against us.

“We have to learn how to play smart football and not beat ourselves. That’s 80 percent attitude. The physical part for us isn’t that bad. We have some talent. We have to win some close games.”

That’s why Wilson has pushed confidence. He’s looking to change the mindset so when the Hoosiers absolutely have to make a play, they do. In about a month we’ll start finding out if they’ve bought into that.


The Hoosier basketball world did not end with Garrett Green picking San Diego State over Indiana. The 6-11 Louisiana State transfer made the best decision for him by picking a school in his home state.

Yes, IU could have used another big man, but it has enough talent to have success. Green, after all, only averaged 6.3 points and 5.1 rebounds last season. Those are decent numbers, but not rock-the-Big-Ten-world ones. He would have been a solid one-year pickup, but not a program changer. The Hoosiers would have been good with him and can be good without him.

Now the biggest inside burden falls to heralded freshman Cody Zeller and senior Tom Pritchard. Juniors Derek Elston and Christian Watford also are in the mix, although neither is a true inside player.

No matter. If the Hoosiers get good point guard play, if they are efficient on offense, smart on defense and keep the fouling to a reasonable total, they will get the job done. Figure they will get it done. After three straight losing seasons, it’s way past time for a turnaround.

Friday, August 5, 2011

IU Football Seeks ‘No Limits;’ Green Saga Continues

Forget all the blather about Indiana’s football rebuilding project. You don’t rebuild when you’ve lost as much as the Hoosiers have since the Bill Mallory glory days. You win. That’s it. Get the talent in place, maximize it and win the bleeping games.

New coach Kevin Wilson has taken that win-now philosophy and buried it deep into the players’ psyche. Now, it would help if that philosophy also included a bunch of studs, and we’ll see if all this running and training developed some of that.

In the meantime, here is what senior receiver Damarlo Belcher had to say about this season’s prospects.

“Everything we do is talk about winning –- when we’re running, when we’re in the weight room. It’s about finishing and working hard. If we do that, we have high expectations. No limitations.”

Eventually limitations will surface. That’s true for every team, from preseason No. 1 Oklahoma (Wilson’s former employer) to Indiana State. The Hoosiers must learn to manage those limitations. That process will begin with preseason camp starting Monday. Freshmen and transfers are reporting today, with veterans coming in on Sunday.


Okay, so the Garrett Green saga continues. Will this 6-11 guy from LSU move on to Indiana? Or will he pick San Diego State, Long Beach State or Wichita State?

And, really, is this THAT big a deal. It’s not like Green is the second coming of Shaq or Wilt. He’s basically a career reserve. Yes, it would be nice if Green became a Hoosier to take up some of the inside burden from heralded freshman Cody Zeller, but it’s not a deal breaker.

A bigger key is if Tom Pritchard can finally, FINALLY, fulfill the promise he showed as a freshman and in spurts ever since. If he can stop fouling and play to his strengths, if he could have a Landon Turner eureka moment and maximize his potential, the Hoosiers will be fine.

If not, well, IU still has enough talent and experience to have a winning record and make some kind of postseason tourney.

Having Green would just make that a little easier to do.


It’s early August, which means football is the topic of choice unless you can’t get enough basketball news. In that case consider R.J. Curington, a 6-5 shooting guard from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy. The Class of 2013 standout took an unofficial visit to IU on Friday, and it went well.

Does that mean Curington will soon commit to the Hoosiers? No. Does this mean coach Tom Crean WANTS Curington to commit to his program? Not necessarily. Curington is a good player, but he isn’t ranked in’s top 100 for the class. He’s not a big-time get in the way Zeller was.

It does mean that when we say Crean NEVER stops recruiting, we aren’t kidding.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

IU Braces for Swift Two-Sport Athlete; Big Ten Goes To Nine-Game Conference Season

Who said the era of multi-sport college athletes is dead?

Nick Stoner is proving it’s very much alive. The freshman from Center Grove High School looks to be an instant impact football player this season. He also has signed to run track for the Hoosiers in the spring.

Stoner helped Center Grove win the state track championship by winning state titles in the 100 meters (10.54 seconds) and 200 meters (21.46). He also set personal bests of 48.46 seconds in the 400 meters and 46.6 seconds in a split in the 400 relay.

IU track coach Ron Helmer is glad Stoner can help the Hoosiers in both sports.

“Nick is a football recruit who really come into his own this year in track and field,” Helmer said in a university release. “He has great range and the ability to get much better. Our football staff is excited about his speed, and as we work together we hope to bring many more high-level football/track athletes to our campus who can help both programs become consistent winners.”


The Big Ten flexed its early football muscle by landing five teams in the preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Wisconsin was the highest rated Big Ten team, coming in at No. 10. Nebraska was No. 11 followed by No. 16 Ohio State, No. 17 Michigan State and No. 25 Penn State. Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern also received votes.

As expected, no coach voted for Indiana.

The Associated Press poll comes out later this month. For the record, we vote on that poll, and made a not-so-good impression last year by ranking Boise State No. 1 for much of the season. This was treated by Ohio State and Alabama fans with the same enthusiasm as making broccoli mandatory for breakfast.


The Big Ten is going back to nine-game conference seasons, after a quarter century of eight-game schedules. The move, which will begin with the 2017 season, comes as a result of adding Nebraska, which gives the conference 12 teams.

That means Big Ten schools, starting in 2017, will only have three non-conference games.

Three teams from the new Legends and Leaders divisions will have five conference home games during odd-numbered years, whill the other three schools from each division will host five conference games during even-numbered years.

That means in 2017 Indiana will have five conference home games. It will have four in 2018.

The Big Ten last had a full nine-game conference schedule for the 1983 and ’84 seasons.

This is good news for the Hoosiers because it means another quality opponent will play in Memorial Stadium, which likely means a bigger crowd and more money. Athletic director Fred Glass already has boosted the non-conference schedule with games against Virginia, Navy, Missouri, South Florida and Wake Forest.

Glass hopes to target seven home games a season as often as he can, with the possibility of as many as eight if he can line up three home non-conference games the same season the Hoosiers have five home Big Ten contests.

IU’s Impact Football Recruiting; What’s Up with LSU Transfer; And More

As you might have expected, Kevin Wilson’s football recruiting has made a big impact on athletic director Fred Glass.

Neither Glass nor Wilson can comment on any players who haven’t signed with Indiana. Yes, this means they can’t talk about Gunner Kiel, the Class of 2012 stud quarterback who has committed to the program and stirred up talk that maybe –- maybe –- the Hoosiers might be poised to jump into consistent-winner mode.

Anyway, Wilson has 15 commitments for the Class of 2012 -- five ranked in the top 75 at their positions nationally -- and life is looking awfully good right now. Of course, that’s always the case this time of year before anybody has practiced or played a game.

“Kevin has been very well received in the state of Indiana,” Glass said. “The state is a much more of a target-rich environment for elite players. Credit Peyton Manning and the Colts or whatever.

“It’s increasingly important for us to be strong in recruiting players in the state. High school football in the state is very strong. We have a Mr. Football coming in (Indianapolis Lawrence Central’s Tre Roberson). More and more elite players are looking at Indiana, committing to Indiana. Kevin has done a great job of becoming ingrained in that.”

While in-state recruiting is important, Glass added, it’s not the only part of Wilson’s recruiting philosophy, which is similar to that of former coach Bill Lynch.

“The overall philosophy hasn’t changed,” Glass said. “We’re focusing on Indiana, having a Midwest footprint and using contacts among our assistant coaches to reach into Florida, Texas and Louisiana to pick up some national guys.”

Wilson also brings another key aspect – confidence. That’s an attribute that’s hard to sustain when you’ve lost as much as the Hoosiers have over the years.

“We’ve lost a lot of close games (in recent years),” Glass said, “and it’s likely confidence might have played in that. Kevin is a confident guy. His philosophy is win today and he hammers that point home. That’s why we hired him and got him here.”


You’ve got to love all the basketball experience Indiana commits Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Perea and Trey Lyles are getting this summer. Yes, there is a burnout factor (do these guys EVER get time off to just be kids), but the chance to play in elite events against elite competition will help prepare them for the challenges they’ll face in college.

All three are set to play in something called the adidas Nations Global Experience, which starts Friday and ends Sunday in Los Angeles. It’s a big enough deal that the title game and third-place game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

What is this event? It gathers some of the top players, 18 and under, from the U.S. and around the world. They will train and compete together, with mentoring provided by such pro players as Eric Gordon (the former IU standout), Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson, Arron Afflalo and Candace Parker.

Ferrell, the standout point guard from Indianapolis Park Tudor, is on the Class of 2012 USA Team. Perea, a forward, is on an international team. Lyles, also a forward, is on the 2013 USA Team.

Other top players include Las Vegas’ Shabazz Muhammad, Connecticut’s Andre Drummond, New York’s DaJuan Coleman and Texas’ Cameron Ridley.


So now we’ve reached the home stretch with the Garrett Green chase. Will the 6-11 reserve LSU center choose the Hoosiers and provide a much-needed inside boost, or will he wind up at San Diego State, Long Beach State or Wichita State.

He’s now visit all his finalists and is set to make a final decision. Because he has graduated from LSU, he can transfer and be eligible immediately. He has one year left to play.

Green is from the Los Angeles area, which is which two California schools are among his finalists. He never put up huge numbers at LSU, and was really nothing more than a reserve, but a 6-11 veteran guy would go a long way to keeping some of the inside burden off of freshman Cody Zeller.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Move An IU Home Football Game to Lucas Oil? Ain’t Happening

Unless you’ve been so enthralled with the national debate on the federal deficit that you lost your Cream ‘n Crimson way, you know that football coach Kevin Wilson makes his Indiana debut on Sept. 3 when the Hoosiers take on Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Yes, that is the home of the Indianapolis Colts and the site of the Big Ten football championship game. It’s an incredible place to watch a football game, a basketball game or just about anything that doesn’t involve the Housewives of New Jersey.

“I think the opportunity to be there in the heart of Indiana University country is very valuable,” athletic director Fred Glass said. “It will be awesome for the kids to play there. I’m very biased, but I think it’s a fabulous stadium. To be in that environment will be an extraordinary opportunity for our student-athletes and our fans.”

Anyway, it’s important to note that this was Ball State’s home game and that school officials moved it from Muncie. We say this because last year Glass took heat for moving a home game against Penn State to Washington D.C. He did that because the department got $3 million to do it, which is WAY more than IU makes in a home game. However, it also cost Bloomington business owners such as restaraunts and hotels, which did not make them happy. And as business owners sometimes do, they expressed those feelings to the person who made them unhappy.

“It’s great that I didn’t move the game out of Bloomington,” Glass said. “It was Ball State.”

Still, Lucas Oil Stadium is an enticing place to play. Would Glass consider moving a home football game there?

“Probably not,” he said. “The Penn State to D.C. game was a great deal. I’d do it all day long, but probably once. Maybe in the far-out future, but I don’t see us moving a Bloomington game to Lucas Oil. I look forward to playing the title game there.”

That would mean winning a Leaders Division highlighted by Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State.

Yes, Wilson is determined to win now, not later. And optimism about the program is everywhere in the wake of stud recruit Gunner Kiel committed to IU. Still, few expect the Hoosiers to make the title game and vie for a Rose Bowl berth this season.

But then, this is August and all things are possible, even Republicans and Democrats agreeing to a budget compromise.


Michigan is making basketball recruiting in-roads into Indiana, the latest being Hamilton Southeastern swingman Zak Irvin –- Class of 2013 -- committing to the Wolverines. Yes, this is the same Zak Irvin IU took a long look at.

Is this a reason for Hoosier fans to worry?

Not really.

The Hoosiers had cooled on Irvin after getting commitments from a bunch of similar athletic forwards. Plus, they’ve already loaded up on the in-state talent they want.

Michigan had been at the top of Irvin’s list for a while. It came down to the Wolverines and Butler.

Michigan also got a commitment from talented point guard Derrick Walton from the Class of 2013. The Hoosiers also had done some intense evaluating of Walton along with fellow point guards Jaylen Brown and Demetrius Jackson last month.

As of right now IU’s future point guard duties are set for Yogi Ferrell in the Class of 2012. If everything works out, he’s the guy coach Tom Crean is counting on to run the show. But you can never have enough true point guards and the Hoosiers could use another talented one. So we’ll see where this leads.