As winter gives spring a miss and moves straight into summer (yaaaaay), so too do we at Off Tackle Empire give “coherent Indiana football analysis” a miss and move straight into Hoosier basketball.
Today we’ve got for you a look at the Hoosiers’ regional rivals and missed scheduling opportunities, a positively ludicrous claim in which someone WANTS Iowa State on their non-conference schedule, and a modest proposal for an Indiana-Cincinnati rivalry game that really out to be a thing IMMEDIATELY.
The Football: Did Indiana miss its chance to be a regional power?
In a thriller for those of us in the Midwest or Upland South, Indiana played the then-#8 Cincinnati Bearcats in a thriller at Memorial Stadium, blowing a one-point lead in the fourth quarter as the Bearcats rolled up 15 unanswered points to breeze past the Hoosiers.
It was part of a really interesting schedule for Indiana that involved a home-and-home with Cincy the Hoosiers will repay in 2022 (more on that Thursday) and an amusingly dumb 33-31 win at Western Kentucky under the lights in Bowling Green.
Those are part of a broader trend Hoosier football seems to be embracing as Hoosier basketball bails out: playing regional rivals. Indiana plays a neutral-home-home set with Louisville starting in 2023, has Notre Dame on the schedule again in 2030-2031, and will play some interesting non-conference games with Virginia and Ball State in the interim. Still haven’t gotten the Bourbon Barrel back together, though.
By contrast, Hoosier basketball is–with Purdue, of course–done with the Crossroads Classic, instead, fancying itself a blueblood on par with Kansas, who they’ll play in a home-and-home the next two seasons.
* Assess Indiana’s (and Purdue’s) decision to discontinue the Crossroads Classic. Good idea? Bad idea?
* Who are some regional games you’d like to see added to the schedule, either in basketball or football? Is there a rivalry (preferably with a trophy) like the Bourbon Barrel you’d like to revive?
Green Akers: I’m generally ok with shaking your schedule up occasionally. Notre Dame is a thoroughly middling hoops program, and Butler’s slid a bit of late as well. Indiana’s tepid noncon last year very nearly kept them out of the tournament, so finding some better opponents isn’t a bad idea.
I like MSU’s current noncon approach in football, which is to keep the buy games mostly local while setting up a higher-profile game that, hey, we might lose depending on where the teams are. A home-and-home with Washington isn’t regional at all, but scheduling a Midwest Boise State like Cincinnati doesn’t make any sense for all the typical reasons. You don’t get commensurate credit for winning, but a loss still exiles you to the Non-Playoff Dimension. The Megaphone is a godawful trophy, but if it’s going to exist, Notre Dame ought to get over themselves and play us more often. Otherwise, the next time we win it we should just melt it down.
MaximumSam: Clearly the Hoosiers are scared of Thad Matta, Conqueror of Worlds, and might as well scuttle an early season beatdown each season.
I wouldn’t mind seeing my Buckeyes play something local instead of the goofy tourneys in other states. Xavier, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville, Pitt, Butler, and Notre Dame are all fairly close geographically. You’re telling me we can’t come up with some good rivalries in that group? The NCAA should stop worrying about NIL and instead ban saying nice things about your opponents. Let’s get some hate in here.
BoilerUp89: Purdue did not want to discontinue the Crossroads Classic and vehemently disagreed with that decision. Getting a free marketing/recruiting visibility game each year in the state’s capital was huge for Purdue in a state where they are vastly outnumbered by IU fans. I understand why IU and Notre Dame canceled it, but I don’t have to like it.
I’ll add onto MaximumSam’s comments above as a huge college basketball fan in Cincinnati who grew up going to Xavier games and went to UC for grad school. Ohio absolutely should have a double header with OSU and Dayton facing off against Xavier and UC (swapping X and UC between OSU and Dayton every other year). Rotate where the games are played, but the amount of dislike between those basketball fanbases is fantastic and would make for great atmospheres.
MNW: I think the Louisville pickup is a smart one for Indiana football. If the Kentucky series isn’t coming back—and it should—a nominally-P5 school with a proximate stadium that IU can travel to is a good idea. The neutral-home-home setup is particularly good.
I don’t actually care about the Crossroads Classic beyond “College basketball is best when it’s local/regional and people should set aside their egos and play it more often,” but I’m also yearning for and have several abortive spreadsheets devoted to a revival of the “Chicago Basketball Classic” featuring DePaul, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Loyola, so fuck me, right?
In football...hear me out.
In football, Northwestern should schedule Iowa State.
I KNOW. SHUT UP.
At least, they should’ve scheduled Iowa State back before ISU lost its fucking mind and decided it would preemptively leave the AAU for Nebraska-adjacent reasons, then listed schools like Ohio State as peer schools only to have none of them reciprocate because turns out actions have consequences, but at least you’ve gutted a history department that was definitely teaching critical race theory or somethi—oh, it’s a department devoted to agricultural history that you’ve eviscerated? Well, surely that’s not awkward at a farm school.
But in the past—like, maybe 5-10 years ago—this would’ve been a more regional Duke-style game. Non-entity in football, decent enough academic reputation (not on the level of Duke, of course, but a solid profile), nominally P5 program, interesting travel possibilities. I would have, personally, enjoyed it until some hick threw a Busch Light at me, but then again I can also ask Stew to do that any day of the week. They’re not so different, Clones and Hoks.
Whew, that rush of blood to the head. What was I talking about?
Oh yes, Indiana basketball. I’m sure that Kansas matchup will go well.
Kind of…: I generally like traditions in sports, so my reflexive reaction to the Crossroads cancellation was “that’s too bad.” But, well, far more important, and long-running, traditions have come to an end, so I haven’t thought about it much since then.
I DO wish UW played Green Bay and Milwaukee every year in CBB, but that ship has sailed. I am curious to see what comes out of the B1G/Pac 12/ACC “alliance” but I suspect it will be underwhelming. Wisconsin has a pretty strong history of play non-conference games against Pac 12 schools anyway (and will play Wazzu this year).
Buffkomodo: Indiana financially carried the Crossroads Classic and that’s not up for dispute. When it started again in 2011, Butler was coming off back-to-back NCAA finals appearances and Indiana was beginning to build back up. Purdue was in a weird lull and Notre Dame was actually making noise on occasion. It made sense to have this classic.
That said, Indiana has played a ranked opponent 1 time in the past 5 years in this event and 3 times overall. For a team looking to establish a national presence again, playing crossover games in state on a set date each year does nothing towards that. Want to play in-state teams? Cool. Have a home and home. Indiana has now replaced the CRC with a Kansas home and home and last I checked they were picking up Arizona for next year as well. For a team with out of conference scheduling issues, this is a good move.
Obviously, I’d like to see Indiana and Kentucky play each year again in football and basketball. The fact that so many people, including yours truly, continue to hate Kentucky with a passion with no real cause or reason signifies there is a great rivalry that could be kindled. If only….if only….
The Food: A
Brewing Cincinnati-Indiana Rivalry?
Please talk about Cincinnati chili along with the claim that it’s really Indiana chili that deserves the recognition here:
Chili with spaghetti gets a bad rap. It divides families. It earns disdain at chili cookoffs. Traditionalists say chili only includes beef, tomatoes and heat — absolutely nothing else. But in Indiana, we add beans, sometimes V-8 and spaghetti to create what could pass for soup. It’s called Hoosier chili — a much-maligned meal. And chili mac? Let’s not even go there.
Hoosier chili pre-dates Cincinnati chili, which was created by Macedonian immigrant Tom Kiradjieff in 1922. Cincinnati chili has cinnamon and a blend of Middle Eastern spices and spaghetti. A heaping crown of cheddar cheese is optional.
Just do that, writers. Hmm? Should Indiana be getting more credit here?
BoilerUp89: As a 6th generation Cincinnatian, I can state that our chili is not “Indiana chili”. Now if Greeks want to claim it fine, but it’s not Indiana chili.
Kind of…: My significant other is from Hamilton Co. I eat this overrated mediocrity at least 2x a year, and every so often a few packets of it in powdered form arrive in the mail.
It’s not the worst thing ever but, really, THIS is what Indiana wants to claim? What is unique here? Either 1) Dumping it on spaghetti, or 2) The blend of spices in the “chili” itself. Fine. So, the hill you’re dying on is either 1) “pretend it’s not subpar goulash” or 2) derivative KFC/Colonel Sanders secret recipe bullshit. And just like the fact that Popeye’s/Zaxby’s/Bojangles exists, so too does, you know, actually good chili. Why would Indiana want to claim this in the first place? That wasn’t meant to be a rhetorical question…
Settle it on the field. Cincy plays Indiana every year henceforth. Winner dumps a water cooler of Skyline on their head coach.
What’s that? You prefer Gold Star? Whatever, fuck off.
Buffkomodo: I do not enjoy Chili, nor do I eat at Skyline. I may be the only one in Cincy, but good god I hate that stuff.