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Comfortable Mediocrity? Indiana Athletics under Fred Glass // B1G 2019, Indiana Potluck #1

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Under AD Fred Glass, has Indiana football stagnated?

Virginia v Indiana Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

Welcome to Indiana Week!

Perhaps you haven’t enjoyed the morose musings of our Hoosier stalwart, Candystripes for Breakfast...you should go do that, so as to get an idea of where the glum tone surrounding Indiana Week comes from.

We’re here, though, in traditional OTE fashion, to encourage Indiana fans shovel dirt on the grave of Hoosier hopes in 2019 with a series of Indiana-themed Potluck lunches designed to call your attention to Hoosier foods you might not have known existed and answer some questions on the future of Hoosier football. (If you’ve stumbled upon this new site, Indiana fan, feel free to check out what our B1G 2019 preview series is all about! Welcome!)

Question #1: A Wonder Bread State

Food: Does anything sum up the state of Indiana more than a nice loaf of Wonder Bread? The Taggert Baking Company of Indianapolis, in 1921, launched a 1.5-pound loaf of white bread, naming it “Wonder Bread” and designing its logo based on the red, blue, and yellow balloons associated with the Indianapolis 500.

So, writers: Is this the “most” Indiana food imaginable, or have I gone awry(e) with my bread stereotypes? [I will stop, but I will not apologize.] We’re re-learning Indiana this morning--help us out by falling back on your most basic Crossroads State stereotypes, and provide one from your home state, if you’d be so kind.

Candystripes: Well, there are some who would argue that the properly done breaded pork tenderloin is an Indiana specialty and not Iowegian, and there are many (myself included) who would stump for the official state pie (sugar cream, in case you were wondering) over a loaf of bread, but I guess if you’re trying to sum up the entire state in a single food item, you could definitely do worse than Wonder bread.

LPW: Unseasoned bran flakes.

Jesse: I know nothing about the State of Indiana, but Wonder Bread is awful. I realize that it was/is a staple for many households who believe white, sort of reasonably priced, extremely floppy/borderline unusable bread is good, but it is decidedly stupid and well, I’m not here for bad bread.

Anyhow, if we’re talking about something that represents Nebraska? Sadly, it’s probably the Mcrib and everything about that annoys me.

Ray: I mean, given that modern society has deemed white bread toxic, I cannot think of a better food to represent the citizenry of Crimson Quarry.

Boilerman31: My grandma always called white bread, “cat bread.” In that, she only deemed it worthy to be fed to cats. I don’t know where I’m going with that.

Following Candystripes, The Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich was invented in Indiana, in my hometown nonetheless. So I’m claiming it. Pounded flat by glaciers (at least the northern half is), breaded and deep fried to perfection (we do have a lot of obese people), and has a bit of a salty aftertaste (Fuck Notre Dame). Perfection.

WSR: Something that’s almost overwhelmingly white representing Indiana? Sure, that works for me. I think the easy one for Minnesota would be the poisoned fish, wouldn’t it? Those damn Scandahoovians ruining everything, even our reputation.

BRT: I can’t tell from the question if the stereotype was limited to food or not. I’m going to say not, because I know almost nothing about Indiana, and nothing at all about its culinary proclivities. When I hear “Indiana” I think of Mike Pence, and for that, I’m very sorry, Indiana. Still, you sort of brought that on yourselves. If I free-associate Mike Pence with food, I come up with salt-free saltine crackers. So… Indiana is a salt-free saltine, which isn’t too far off from Wonder Bread. As for Nebraska stereotypes, they were regurgitated with formulaic efficiency in last week’s fan hate piece, so farmers/Lil’ Red/corn etc.

Poll

What food is Indiana?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Wonder Bread
    (46 votes)
  • 40%
    Breaded pork tenderloin
    (49 votes)
  • 20%
    A salt-free saltine
    (24 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (comment!)
    (1 vote)
120 votes total Vote Now

Question #2: A Wonder Bread Football Team?

Football: Indiana AD Fred Glass has now weathered 10 full football seasons on the job at his alma mater after winning the job in October 2008. Since then, Indiana athletics has settled into something approaching...comfortable mediocrity? Glass has only had to hire one basketball coach (Archie Miller, after Tom Crean hit his wall in Bloomington), but has now had two bites at the football coaching apple:

  • Kevin Wilson, former Oklahoma OC, managed just a 26-47 (12-37) record in Bloomington, but ended his last two seasons with bowl appearances after 6-6 seasons (2-6 in the Big Ten in 2015, 4-5 in 2016). Wilson resigned before the Foster Farms Bowl in 2016, citing “philosophical differences” with Glass amid allegations of player mistreatment. While Wilson had been noted (even here!) for his “recruiting genius,” issues with him and Glass cut Indiana’s brief rise short.
  • Since then, it’s been on “That guy who wears sports glasses to church,” Tom Allen, who has...existed? The Hoosiers have gone 5-7 (2-7) in both seasons under Allen, with recruiting bottoming out at 13th in 2017 before recovering to 10th in 2018 and 8th in 2019. But Indiana hasn’t gotten over its Big Ten East humps, and it appears only a catastrophic Michigan State season could vault them into the top 4 in the East.

So, writers: Assess the state of Indiana athletics under Fred Glass. Should he just be going all-in on Archie Miller, and hoping Allen can make a bowl every other year or so? What should be the football expectations in Bloomington, and where does IU stand in the conference?

Bonus: Have an alum[nus/na] running your athletics department? Tell us about him/her and if it’s a good or bad idea.

Dead Read: To be honest, I know very little about the state of Indiana athletics because Nebraska never plays them in football - and that is what I am most interested in. They are a solid basketball program, as on would expect, and they have had some excellent baseball teams. I feel that they aren’t great, but certainly are not a laughingstock.

As far as alum as AD goes, I have some thoughts. Nebraska ADs Devaney, Osborne, Moos, and Byrne attended undergraduate school elsewhere. They did (or do) pretty well at Nebraska. Shawn Eichorst went to Wisconsin-Whitewater, but he is sort of a nonentity - just a chameleon on a field of beige. However, former Nebraska AD Steve Pederson is an alum. What do I think of him? Not since Attila the Hun, a man who left centuries of total darkness in his wake, has there been a man like Steve Pederson (I’m sure our resident OTE historians will back me up on this, 100%).

Recent experience indicates that I am a wee bit skeptical of alums running athletic departments. Small sample size, etc. YMMV.

Candystripes: Since my IU athletic director knowledge is a bit sparse from years before Rick Greenspan, I’ll just say that Fred Glass is a major upgrade from his predecessor, which I’m pretty sure would also be said of anyone who followed Greenspan in that position. Indiana’s position in non-revenue sports is generally accepted as fine, with a few very competitive sports and a couple that are pretty good once in a while. Basketball is always going to be a touchy subject as long as a 6th national championship continues to elude the Hoosiers, but they are currently in “acceptable” territory right now among fans who realize that Bob Knight is never coming back to coach in Bloomington.

Football, though…. Football is in a very difficult position. It’s (likely) never going to be the most popular sport at a university and in a state where basketball is king. In fact, there is a not-small portion of the undergraduate population that would much rather get absolutely wasted across the street from the football stadium than actually go in to watch a game. Any game. Except maybe against Ohio State, but only until it looks like we suck again, then it’s back outside to drink more.

Combine that with the fact that Indiana is scheduled 3 losses every year by the conference, and delusions of achieving better than mediocrity tend to get stamped down real hard. And eventually, even the diehards tire of seeing the same damn results against the same damn teams with no discernible progress from any coach or team.

I cannot actually fathom a realistic scenario where Indiana is likely to improve upon their current position in football. (Leaving the conference, dropping down a division, and multiple major scandals in the rest of the division at the same time were deemed unrealistic by me.)

LPW: I’d like to see Indiana just once get over the hump against OSU/PSU/Michigan one of these years. I’m not sure Tom Allen is the answer in Bloomington. Best case is fighting for fourth place every year.

Jesse: Indiana baseball has been spectacular, basketball is sort of weirdly in a holding pattern of almost good, and football is exactly as described - mediocre. The Hoosiers volleyball team is middle of the pack and the women’s basketball team is slightly lower than middle. What I’m saying is that everything is sort of blah. Historically, there are a few non-revs that would be doing better it feels like, but the plateau is here and it’s killing them.

Now, I don’t know a ton about whether or not they should expect more, but it doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence considering they’re getting a whopping $50 MM a year from the Big Ten and should be really good at something. I’m not asking that to be football, but like, pick a lane and kill it. At least basketball.

Ray: Indiana is hot, hot garbage and will remain so as long as this dude is in office. So, please, please continue to do what you do “Fred Glass” (I used quotation marks because I am not confident that I know who this person is or that they actually exist) because we need those delicious wins wherever we can find them. Don’t change anything, ever.

Boilerman31: The last time Purdue had an alum running the athletic department, Purdue finished dead last in Football and Basketball in the same season during his tenure, had a history of being excessively cheap, and appeared to be on the way of exiting major college athletics.

No, I don’t miss the Morgan Burke days. Why do you ask?

BRT: First thing’s first: Dead Read’s Attila the Hun/Steve Pedersen analogy checks out and has an official historian stamp of approval. As for Indiana, unfortunately, they’ve got a bit of a football problem, and that is that they’re in the East Division, which as we all know is the NFL PLUS. So… they’re probably screwed, and bowl eligibility most years is the goal. As for their overall athletic package, they’re ok. Basketball needs to improve, but they’ve got pretty good baseball. They are lackluster in volleyball, which is actually a bit of a sin in this conference.

WSR: I think the expectations for Indiana football fans are that Notre Dame makes the playoff every few seasons. That’s not asking too much, is it? If they can have that, it should be able to tide them over until basketball season where they can finish behind Izzo’s Michigan State and Bo Ryan’s wisconsin and John Beilein’s Michigan and...holy shit, they really can expect to compete.

Now for a legend as an AD. Paul Giel. Hooboy. Giel finished 2nd in the 1953 Heisman voting and is still the person who collected the most votes and failed to win. And then Paul Giel was Minnesota’s AD from 1971-1989, and I think we can probably count the number of positive accomplishments of the athletic department during his tenure on a single hand. He hired Herb Brooks and Bill Musselman, and...uh…

The man completely ruined the football program. He allowed the U to be railroaded into the Metrodome. He allowed boosters to roll over him and hire Lou Holtz (and had the shit contract that allowed him to waltz away to Notre Dame). He hired incompetent boobs (HELLO JOE SALEM!) simply because they played for the Gophers. The man was blatantly inept and deserves to have a statue put up on campus for his efforts as an athlete, and then that statue toppled 3rd-world dictator style for his incompetence as Athletic Director.

MNW: In a similar vein, while Northwestern has not had any alumni of note run the Athletics Department—which is now run by Illinois graduate Jim Phillips—they have allowed then-current football coach John Pont (hey look! an Indiana connection!) to ascend to the throne in Evanston (in 1975) and preside over a period of abject horribleness until his firing (in part because of protests by African-American athletes) in 1980.

As far as IU, I think—unfortunately for them—they should be looking to be more like Purdue in football. Basketball is still The Thing for the state of Indiana’s two academic flagships, but the Boilermakers, unlike the Hoosiers, have at least carved out a place for themselves in fits and starts over the last three decades.

Now, saying “hire Joe Tiller” is a lot easier said than done, of course. But finding an offensive innovator who gave the football program an identity is something that Indiana should at least aspire to. Did they have that in Kevin Wilson? I don’t know. But whether it’s “emphasizing IU football’s history” or “adding a beer garden in the South End Zone” (I don’t know, seemed like it worked in West Lafayette) or “outdoor basketball game on the grass following a November game,” creating some sort of appeal that is more than just “come get drunk” or “hey, we have a rock and a nice stadium” would be good.

In terms of his on-field stuff, I think Fred Glass needs to make some strides this year. He’s paying Tom Allen less than Kevin Wilson, and it shows in the program—no controversy, sure, but no palpable buzz or promise in the program. It’d be great to see Glass follow up on things like a home-and-home with Mizzou, too (SEC East champs never forget), but waiting until a three-fer with Louisville (2023 neutral, 2024 away, 2025 home), some piddling things with Cincinnati and Western Kentucky—on the back of “did you know this is happening?” series with Virginia and Wake Forest—don’t do a ton for me.

In order: (1) be more like Purdue, (2) innovate, don’t stabilize, and (3) give us fun games. Thank you for coming to my Indiana TED Talk.

Poll

How do you fix IU football?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Meh. Just let it ride.
    (51 votes)
  • 16%
    Embrace the drunks.
    (22 votes)
  • 3%
    Fire Tom Allen.
    (5 votes)
  • 9%
    Go Notre Dame!
    (12 votes)
  • 29%
    Innovate and excite.
    (39 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (comment!)
    (2 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now