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B1G 2011 // IU Cocktail Party Preview


Today is the beginning of B1G 2011, our comprehensive offseason preview series.  From now through early July, we'll be dedicating each week on OTE to individual programs, and providing daily team insight and analysis.  We'll work in reverse chronological order from last year's conference finish.  (Don't worry, we'll make sure to squeeze Nebraska in somewhere along the way.)  This approach will allow us to thoroughly appraise each club.

Those of you who have been with us for a while should recognize the format, although I should note that we've tweaked the daily features to provide a more vivid snapshot of each team as it heads into the fall.

Look at it this way, with months until the college football preview magazines hit the shelves, what have you got to lose?

Okay, enough with the pleasantries. The first stop on our virtual road tour is Bloomington, Indiana.  Let's travel I-37 South to Monroe County to visit a perpetual Big Ten cellar-dweller: the Indiana Hoosiers.



You're probably wondering what the hell a "cocktail party preview" is.  Here's the gist.  Imagine you just graduated from school and you're looking for a job in this crappy economy, or you're employed, and your boss asks you to schmooze a few prospective clients on the golf course. Either way you're in front of somebody you really need to impress. As you sit down in the hiring partner's office, or walk up to the putting green, you notice your mark has a framed picture of Randle El on the wall, or a trident logo on his driver sleeve.  "Did you go to Indiana?" you ask politely. "Heck yeah," comes the response. "I've had football season tickets for 18 years." And then, after a pause, he asks, "You a fan?"

After you thank your lucky stars you're not a Boilermaker you ask yourself: what do I really know about Indiana football?  The bad news is not a lot. But have no fear, you read Off Tackle Empire's IU Cocktail Party Preview, a distilled, no-nonsense, matter of fact primer for the unacquainted fan. The content that follows will arm you with just enough knowledge to navigate your way through any social encounter. Or at least give you enough information to make polite conversation at a cocktail party.

Indiana at a glance...

First Season: 1897
Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (1st Year, 0-0)
All-Time Record: 450-616-45 (.425)
2010 Record: 5-7 (1-7 Conference)

Last year in Bloomington looked pretty much like every other year in Bloomington. The Hoosiers skated through their non-conference schedule unscathed, kept it extremely competitive but ultimately lost a few games in conference (See Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa) and got the living daylights kicked out of them in most of the others (See Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Penn State).

[Conversation Pointer: Do not for any reason mention the number 83. That's the number of points Wisconsin hung on the Hoosiers in November. On the other hand, make sure to mention how exciting Indiana's 34-31 overtime victory in West Lafayette over Purdue was. To play it casual say something like "It's got to feel good to have the Old Oaken Bucket back in Bloomington."]


The Kevin Wilson Era Begins

On November 28th, Indiana announced that fourth-year head coach Bill Lynch would not return for a fifth season. Although Lynch, who finished with a 19-30 record at IU, had a knack for recruiting talented skill position players on the offensive side of the ball, his defenses routinely morphed into turnstiles in Big Ten play.  Taking a lead into the fourth quarter only to squander it was a familiar overture during his tenure. To make up for the lack of defensive muscle, Athletic Director Fred Glass hired a defensive mastermind another offensive guru to...wait a minute. What?

New head coach Kevin Wilson comes from college football powerhouse Oklahoma where he was a Broyles Award-winning offensive coordinator. In five seasons commanding the versatile Sooner pass-spread attack, Wilson oversaw the 40th, 19th, 3rd, 24th and 10th best offenses in the nation.

Although Wilson lacks college head coaching experience and a defensive pedigree, he does have excellent ties to the Midwest (having coached at Miami, Ohio and Northwestern on Randy Walker's staff) and promises to continue Indiana's tradition of producing dynamic attacks. To shore things up on the other side of the ball, Wilson has put his trust in co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler.

Damarlo Belcher's decision to stay for his senior season was a boost for the Hoosier attack.

In the cupboard...
Total returning starters:
15 (6 Offense, 7 Defense, 2 Special Teams)

The Hoosiers will enter conference play tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 15 returning starters including a number of weapons on the offensive side of the ball like running back Darius Willis and wide receiver Damarlo Belcher, who led the Hoosiers with 78 receptions and 810 yards in 2010 and decided to forgo the NFL draft to return for his senior season. Having said that, the Hoosier attack must replace enormous contributors in Quarterback Ben Chappell, and wide receivers Terrance Turner and Tandon Doss.

2011 Schedule:

Date Opponent
09/03/11 @ Ball State
09/10/11 vs. Virginia
09/17/11 vs. South Carolina State
09/24/11 @ North Texas
10/01/11 vs. Penn State
10/08/11 vs. Illinois
10/15/11 @ Wisconsin
10/22/11 @ Iowa
10/29/11 vs. Northwestern
11/05/11 @ Ohio State
11/19/11 @ Michigan State
11/26/11 Purdue
12/03/11 Big Ten Championship

[Conversation Pointer: The Hoosiers get a visit from Virginia on September 10th that could change the course of their season. Win it, and they have an excellent chance of being 4-0 entering Leaders division play needing only two wins to reach bowl eligibility.]

Stat to make you sound smart...

Including Kevin Wilson, the new IU staff has coached in 55 bowl games including 17 BCS bowls and seven national championship games. Members of the staff have won two national titles


This week...

MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Point/Counterpoint

WEDNESDAY | 4th and 3


FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close - Rival Blogger Interview