An unassailable fact about Indiana Hoosier football in recent years is this: Bill Lynch was far from the most egregious part of the Indiana football experience.
Miley Cyrus, Zombie Nation and “Hey! You Suck!” are the contenders for that title. As is the losing, almost always, to all Big Ten opponents.
Bill Lynch is, by all accounts, a good man and certainly a solid enough football coach to achieve 100 career victories. And the resilience shown by this group of Hoosiers in coming back from losses both devastatingly close (Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa each of the last two years) and just plain devastating (Wisconsin, 83-20) has been impressive.
But the record can only be ignored for so long. After the emotional bowl season of 2007, IU has achieved only a single Big Ten victory in three consecutive years.
Regardless of wins against poor nonconference schedules, the Big Ten conference is where coaches’ reputations are made. And Bill Lynch’s reputation is 6-26.
In letting Lynch go, IU athletic director Fred Glass has already made one correct decision. He made another when he noted at Sunday’s press conference that he will head the search, there will be no search committee, and when he expressed his understanding that hiring Lynch’s successor will be a large part of Glass’ legacy at IU.
This hire, if Glass nails it, could transform the athletic department at IU. Those 35,000-plus crowds in Memorial Stadium are currently a mirage to anyone who A. Attends the games; and B. Knows how many $5 tickets are sold.
But what if a good coach comes in, and makes IU a regular, legitimate bowl contender. And yes, upgrades the schedule to include at least one BCS team among the Sisters of the Poor?
Don’t laugh. It can be done.
Sixteen years ago, Northwestern was an afterthought, Missouri was a shambles and Indiana was a six-win team year in and year out. The right coach can change everything; maybe not fulfill bold claims of “Taking the Crimson to Pasadena,” but bring IU back to consistent respectability.
IU lacks any kind of real football tradition. We have a rock (a “tradition” stolen from Clemson), we are one of many, many schools that does “Zombie Nation,” has students tell the other team they “suck!” (laughable, considering our place in the Big Ten firmament), and have a general apathy among fans.
But there is a stadium in place. An honest-to-goodness college football stadium; Big Ten in look, if not in capacity.
I still maintain that if any coach can ever win nine games at IU in the modern era, they should build a statue to that man. I’m not sure if that would really happen, but I hope Glass’ next decision will help the fanbase find out.