In general, the IU Football community seems to be pretty supportive of Kevin Wilson as the next coach at IU. His credentials speak for themselves; two Heisman Trophy winners, an offense that average 51 points per game in 2007, the Frank Broyles award for top assistant coach.
But if there is one strain of concern it has been, “Why are we hiring an offensive minded coach? Scoring points hasn’t been the problem, it’s been stopping the other team.” This is true to some extent. Since the Cam Cameron era, IU has always had a better offense than defense, though even the “better” offense hasn’t been good enough to truly outscore a truly top quality team.
But a larger point goes to whether hiring a head coach with a background in offense will keep IU from improving its defense. I looked at every BCS head coach going into the season, and looked at whether they had more assistant coaching positions on offense or on defense. Overall, I found 40 head coaches who had a more offensive background than defensive, whereas I only found 22 who had more experience on the defensive side of the ball. (Some coaches had no positions associated with their assistant coaching history, so I left them out of this survey.)
Looking at the top 31 coaches(ranked by winning percentage,) I found no great advantage to hiring a defensive coach. For every Nick Saban or Bob Stoops who were excellent defensive coordinators, there are coaches like Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer who were excellent offensive coordinators before assuming their head coach duties.
Furthermore, hiring a bright defensive mind is no guarantee that the team will be a defensive stopper, any more than hiring a bright offensive mind guarantees that IU will score 50 points per game.
Gene Chizik was a defensive coordinator at Auburn and at Texas before he became head coach. His 2004 Tiger defense led the nation in scoring defense. As a head coach, he’s overseen Cam Newton become the hands down Heisman Trophy favorite, but his defense gives up almost 25 points per game.
We’ve seen similar coaching backgrounds go against their history in the NFL. Tony Dungy coaching the high scoring Colts with its pourous defense or Brian Billick coaching the Ravens to their only super bowl behind a record setting defense and a quarterback just smart enough to not screw it up.
Overall, Kevin Wilson will have to bring a good defensive staff with him when he comes to Bloomington, but that would be true whether he had been the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma or the defensive coordinator for Ohio State.