I. Case History/Opening Statement
A. Case History
2016 was filled with things that almost went right, but in the end did not, for the Indiana Hoosiers. A brief (and probably woefully incomplete) list includes JUCO transfer QB Richard Lagow, who while good was also at times impossible to watch (Wake Forest just picked another pass); kicker Griffin Oakes, who made just enough kicks to keep his job, but missed ten and seemed to get worse as the season went on; the continued struggle to finish games against good teams; the fact that Hoosier Football still has not finished above .500 since Bill Lynch’s interim year (2007, for those who have blocked out Lynch’s tenure at IU like I wish I could) and still hasn’t won a bowl game in over 25 years; and the debacle over player health and safety that ended Kevin Wilson’s time at Indiana (and possibly the careers of a handful of players that may or may not include Zander Diamont).
And remember, this was a GOOD year for IU football on the field.
B. Opening Statement
Stop me when you’ve heard this one before: The path exists for Indiana to get to a bowl game, but it’s going to take some very good results, and will probably come down to the last game of the season. Taking the field in the regular season for the first time under Tom Allen, and featuring a decent amount of staff turnover, you could pretty much peg Indiana’s record anywhere from 1-11 to 9-3 and have a decent chance of being right. (I won’t even consider this possibility that this team can’t beat SOMEBODY, and I don’t hold a lot of hope that the top half of the East is within reach either.)
The one place Indiana does seem to have some consistency is in playmakers, and they’re going to need every single one of them if 2017 is going to be a step up from 2016.
A: What We’ve Written About Indiana in the Offseason
B. What Can We Learn From Pop Culture
Hm, someone wearing red, known for causing chaos, mostly unpredictable, and just as likely to kill you as help you?
Seems about right.
III. Closing Statement
There’s not a lot I can say about Indiana that I haven’t said at some point in the last few years. The team has been making slow progress towards being a competitive force in the Big Ten, but will always be limited by their placement in the East until and unless they can finally knock off a team on the current level of Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. There’s been a lot of hope, and more than a few near misses in the last couple years, but there’s no denying the fact that Indiana has exactly one win over those three teams since the late 80’s, and until that statistic changes (preferably with a win over Michigan or OSU), Indiana will forever be mid-tier at best. This could very well be Indiana’s best chance to break through, but if they don’t, they might not get another shot this decade. All it takes is one big break to change the future of a team, and god knows Indiana has been waiting for their break for a damn long time. If not now, when?
IV. Schedule of Events (lovingly “borrowed” from ESPN)
V. Record Predictions
The consensus seems to be that Indiana will be right on the edge of bowl discussion, a place Hoosier fans are very familiar with. I wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of grumbling if Tom Allen is only able to lead the Hoosiers to 5-7 in his first full year as head coach, but making it back to the postseason would definitely go a long way towards him being only the second IU football coach since Cam Cameron to get 5 or more years in charge.