Last week, B1G 2013 kicked off and we introduced you to our friendly little Tuesday corner of the web - the part where we talk about the presumed Smartest Guys in the Room. While Tim Beckman and his cavalcade of coordinators may not seem like the smartest guys in any given room, we did kickoff a good place to talk about coaches and see what they offer each program.
This brings us to Indiana. Now, I am not an Indiana fan nor do I claim to have followed every step of Kevin Wilson's road, but I have done some good research and I still remember the Wilson offenses tormenting Nebraska. That means I am cued up to talk a little bit about the Indiana Football staff. Instead of me talking incessantly about Wilson's complex offenses and ability to really set QBs up for success, however, I decided to reach out to one of the best Indiana Football sites on the web and get the real lowdown on the Indiana's coaching staff. Special thanks to Bobby Holtz for graciously taking time away from his duties at the Crimson Echoes to answer a few of my questions about Indiana's team and hopefully the road to glory in 2013. Here are his answers to my questions:
So Bobby, so long as you don't mind me calling you Bobby, let's start with how you became a fan of Indiana football. It seems like there are not that many of you out there. In fact, sometimes I see Indiana on TV and feel sorry for your team. I mean, outside of your obvious dominance over Nebraska, it seems like nothing good happens with your team. How do you keep it up?
BH: First off, everyone calls me Bobby. I've had some other not so nice terms thrown my way, but my parents grew up Indiana fans and Bobby was just kind of a perfect name.
As for how I became an Indiana football fan, well, I think you might be surprised by how many of us there are. Down here in Bloomington, we do really love our basketball teams, but who doesn't love Saturdays in the Fall? I may not have gone to school at Indiana, but being in Indiana as a kid really grew you up on an appreciation of what football is all about. Heck, we practically invented the sport, right?
But what really got me hooked was my first time hearing the Victory March in the stadium for the first time. It was cold, as it always seems to be during football season, but hearing the band and seeing the golden domes was just the best thing a guy could ask for. I had been present for many games at Assembly Hall, but nothing really gets you like football in Indiana, you know?
Okay, let's get down to business. All things considered, last year seems to have been a good year for Indiana football. Despite the end getting eclipsed by basketball season a bit, it seems like the coaching staffs really have things turning around in Bloomington. What are your thoughts going into this season.
BH: I think you are absolutely correct in your assessment of last year. Indiana football is most definitely on the rise and despite the setbacks against the SEC and their dominant offensive lines, I think we're poised to make another run at a title. Now, you might think I'm crazy for even putting that out there, but think about it. If it weren't for the obvious distractions going on for our stud Linebacker, and I will never forgive Deadspin for the bastardization of that story, I think Indiana's team makes that championship game much much closer.
Now, as for coaching. We are really happy with the coaching we have gotten here in Indiana as of late. Look, between Coach Crean and Coach Kelly, Indiana has the two best coaches in Men's Revenue sports. I am fortunate to blog about both men and look forward to claiming National Championships for Indiana in both sports. What's fantastic about that is that you can literally feel the excitement.
What areas do you see Indiana's coaches needing to improve on this year most? Last year, it felt like the defense was definitely holding back Indiana's offense - which was extremely high-octane. Are there any new additions to the defensive staff that can help take this team to the next level?
BH: I don't know if you only watched Indiana football in January, but what I saw in this team was just the opposite. Look, Coach Kelly stresses accountability on both sides of the ball, but that Te'o guy was the glue that kept us in most games. Outside of getting outran by an Alabama team that would most likely work over any team in the nation, our defense was excellent.
Now, on the offensive side of the ball, it seems like we just had a few pieces missing. Everett Golson has the potential to be a dynamic weapon for Indiana football, but he has such a penchant for making the wrong pass at the wrong time. This year, we are going to need a stronger running game, and a viable second option for if the defense falters down the stretch. Add to that, our schedule does not pan out for us. No, we are going to play everybody everywhere, and that proves how tough a team we are. Heck, nobody is willing to play coast-to-coast like our team here in Indiana and you would be remiss to believe otherwise.
So to answer your question, we have a great defense. I'm not sure what Indiana football you watched last year, but we were pretty good.
Looking at 2013, what new wrinkles do you see Indiana throwing at the Big Ten? It has been a while since this team has really dominated the conference. Are your expectations high enough to be competing for a title?
BH: Well, I feel like I've already answered this. We are always expecting a National Title, and our team will not settle for anything less. That's why we've gone through so many coaches before Coach Kelly. We had to find the right guy to take us back to the glory years. Now that we've gotten him and Coach Crean, I am in sports fan heaven. It's like we're back in the 80s and living it up all year round.
Now, the other side of your questions is trickier. I don't really mind the Big Ten in basketball as it's a strong conference and our title definitely proves we are a team worthy of being praised. However, I think you'd even agree that our football approach to coast-to-coast scheduling is the best thing. I know I've covered this, but we have a brand to protect and we want people to know that football in Indiana is just as good here as in California or anywhere else. We do not turn down any teams because our AD knows that the only way we keep our brand alive is by showing them the Golden Domes everywhere.
With that said, we OWN the Big Ten. Did you see our game against Michigan? Just a beautiful moment and such a fun thing to see Coach Hoke look despondent across the sidelines. Look, there is only one game in Indiana in the fall and we follow it religiously. This really is the best team ever.
Finally, what are your predictions for 2013? What improvements would you see as a step forward? More importantly, where do you see this team headed in the next five years or so?
BH: We are going undefeated in 2013! You heard it here first. We should have a Top Five ranking, and that should give us enough energy to take over this year. Anybody who thinks otherwise just doesn't understand football.
As for improvements, I'm just hoping we see a team that is more dynamic on offense AND defense. We have the most talented roster in the nation and the best coaching staff on the sidelines, so I don't understand why we wouldn't lead in both statistical categories. We are heading in the right direction and this will be a great season to distract us from some potential unknowns on the hardcourt. I will just say this, our team in Indiana knows football. GO IRISH!