Itâ€™s taken a while to sink in, but head football coach Kevin Wilson is feeling less like the new coach of IU football, and feeling like the IU coach.
Throughout the 2010 football season, it seemed so obvious that if Bill Lynch were to be let go, Indiana University would be best served hiring a football version of Tom Crean: a fired-up, media-savvy coach who was great with alumni and respected IUâ€™s history.
Football, like basketball, needed building up, and students responded to Crean. Bring in his football counterpart, and the two biggest sports in college athletics are headed towards bright futures at the same time.
But like a smack to the face, everything starting coming full circle.
During a meet-and-greet with the new coaching staff before Spring Break, coach addressed a packed Gresham Hall. During his quick speech, he didnâ€™t stand up on stage like a used car salesman smiling through pearly white teeth saying that IU Athletics should build a larger trophy case for all the crystal balls the team was going to win, or tell the students in attendance to buy their plane tickets for Los Angeles right now so they could see the Hoosiers play in the Rose Bowl next year.
He simply talked about preparing and about off season workouts. He talked about the speed of practice and the mental attitudes of the players. He didnâ€™t rest on his resume or predict all four of the quarterbacks in contention heading into the spring would be the next Sam Bradford.
He talked about planning, changing the perception, and focus.
Never once did he predict the number of wins this season, or which New Yearâ€™s Day Bowl would IU play in.
Thatâ€™s when the aforementioned smack to the face dawned.
IU football doesnâ€™t need selling. IU basketball did.
That may seem strange, but consider the circumstances. The whole basketball program was like a building that had been leveled. The fans needed a coach to be the guy on a construction site that wears a button shirt and tie with a white hard hat, supervising and telling people about the building process.
IU basketball did not need another straight Xâ€™s and Oâ€™s coach. Another coach like Sampson, with a personality that makes Bill Belichick sound exciting, was not what this fan base needed. It needed a coach that enjoyed the spotlight and liked to talk publicly about the rebuilding process.
Football is an entirely different story. IU football is like a shiny red Ferrari sitting in the shop, that doesnâ€™t have an engine.
Maybe Ferrari is a bit extreme, but blame it on my personal bias.
Think about it. The program is stacked with features to build on: a newly renovated stadium, a tailgating scene that could rival any SEC school, and some of the largest training facilities in the nation.
IU is a basketball school that loves football season.
Remember the Michigan game?
A sea of cream and crimson flooded Memorial Stadium and the student section showed it can be packed, loud, and rowdy when given a huge game with season implications on the line.
IU doesnâ€™t need a coach to sell the fan base the car, itâ€™s already sold. IU needs an engineer under the hood building the engine, jump starting the cylinders, and simply making it GO.
Hoosier Nation is ready to drop the gears, letâ€™s get this car up to the line.