From a 6-2 (6-1) campaign in 2020…to a 2-10 (0-9) collapse in 2021.
The worst Indiana Hoosiers football campaign since Kevin Wilson’s inaugural, a 1-11 rebuild in 2011. Four touchdowns over the last four games, which is forgivable in the Big Ten East until you remember that the Hoosiers’ final four games were against Michigan, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Purdue.
The difference? This wasn’t a first-year coach–this was Tom Allen in his fifth season in charge in Bloomington, off a piss-and-vinegar 2020 in which his players celebrated him as the “best coach in America” and his “Love Each Other” brand seemed ascendant in the Big Ten before the Hoosiers refused to wear their Big Ten patches in the Outback Bowl as a silent protest and shat the bed against a mediocre Ole Miss. And then 2021 happened.
So tell me, writers:
* What went wrong, in your mind, for Indiana in 2021?
* Where do the Hoosiers stand in the Big Ten East, with Maryland and Rutgers possibly now putting it together: was it just the Hoosiers’ turn to finish last, or is there broader cause for concern?
* Any ill-fated coaching or marketing slogans from your program–or any flash-in-the-pan claims–that Indiana could learn from?
Green Akers: As to what went wrong, two things, the first being a big factor in the second: the offensive line couldn’t keep the QBs safe, and then the QBs got hurt. It would have been difficult to overcome that with a creative, effective offensive coordinator, but Nick Sheridan was decidedly neither of those things. The defense ground down under the burden of carrying the team, and injuries started to pile up there too.
That said, I don’t know if Rutgers or Maryland really showed anything on the field last year that should concern Hoosier Nation too much. Indiana does need to find their footing quickly, but the locker room seems durable and Tom Allen wasn’t too stubborn to see he needed a talent infusion on offense.
MaximumSam: Well, one problem is Kalen DeBoer is the head coach at Washington after two seasons at Fresno State. His offense gave the Hoosiers an identity that lasted exactly one season after he left. The second season? Woof. They finished 112th on FEI on offense, and their best offensive performance may have been scoring 24 on Cincinnati in a two touchdown loss. You aren’t going to win many games scoring 3 points on Rutgers.
Nick Sheridan got jettisoned into the sun (er, the Pac12) and Indiana will ride with Walt Bell. With a coherent offensive plan, they should shoot up to being at least average in the East, and I can squint my eyes and see them finishing as high as fourth if Sparty comes back to earth.
Buffkomodo: I’ll address these questions one at a time…I answered number one in the cocktail preview so go read it there.
As far as question two goes, I’m not quite ready to declare there is cause for concern, but I’m definitely covering the button just in case.
The Walt Bell hire is…bad. Indiana did nothing to bolster the O-line nor did it fire its O-line coach. Offense was most of Indiana’s problem and if things do not start well, there will be cause for concern. Should Indiana spend another season in the cellar, look for 2023 to be a make or get fired year for Tom Allen.
As for question 3, Indiana can learn to not misspell the damn name in game one and then get obliterated on national television. That’s something.
HWAHSQB: I’m not sure that 2021 wasn’t the actual Indiana and the gaudy 2019 and 2020 records were built on the backs of beating lots of bad teams. Indiana is still better than Maryland and rutger.
The entire Tim Beckman-Bill Cubit era was a study in ill-fated coaching slogans and marketing snafus. I think the worst was the interim AD on the day Bill Cubit was announced as the coach said that the hire was “not ideal, but not a dagger to the heart of the program” Seriously, that happened.
MNW: Man, I was thinking “the ‘Dan Persa for Heisman’ dumbbell campaign was sure stupid” when I wrote this question, and HWAHSQB just drops that one on me. Man alive.
I think it was likely the Hoosiers’ turn to finish last, but it at least FELT like they’re in a place where last in the East should be Rutgers 50% of the time, Maryland 25%, and Indiana 25%. Maybe the Hoosiers even less.
What wasn’t surprising about IU’s collapse, to me, was the play of Michael Penix. It felt kind of awkward noting “Hey, he doesn’t throw a good ball and Whop Philyor might be REALLY good” after the 2020 season — while it wasn’t breaking news to most, kicking Indiana was like looking in the mirror and kicking myself.
Wait, that means I should’ve been all too familiar with it.
BoilerUp89: Lots of things went wrong for Indiana in 2021. I tend to take the view that it’s a problem with their really good coordinators moving on and Allen being more of a program manager/rally the troops type of guy than a spectacular play caller/scheme developer on either side of the ball. Those guys can succeed but they need good coordinators and Allen certainly didn’t have that last year. Moving forward, Indiana is in the same place they’ve always been in the East: hoping to position themselves in front of Rutgers and Maryland and pull an upset or two of the other 4 division teams.
As for terrible marketing slogans (LEO isn’t one of these, I actually like LEO), I give you the “Hazell your hat” campaign by Purdue. What a terrible idea from an athletic department that had lost its way across the board at that point in time.
Kind of…: I mean, the defense was far from elite, but the offense was 123rd (of 130) in scoring offense,* so, um, let’s start there. But that doesn’t really capture it, so there’s this: take away the 38-35 loss to Maryland (NOT a defensive powerhouse!), and Indiana averaged 7.35 ppg in their other eight conference games. So, even adding back in the Maryland loss, Indiana couldn’t break 100 points in conference play. The 56-14 win over Idaho provided over a quarter if Indiana’s scoring output for the season.**
*Still higher than Northwestern!
**This team hung with Cincinnati. Are we SURE the Bearcats deserved to make the playoff last year? [Insert Michigan/Georgia joke here.]
I don’t think Allen is a bad coach, but he’s not Nick Saban. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see Indiana contending for a bowl game (though the 9-win dreams are shelved for now), but Maryland and Rutgers aren’t standing still.
Wisconsin football doesn’t really do marketing slogans, so go find WSR’s contribution as he’s probably shoehorning in a reference to the “let’s airbrush in a black person” fiasco from 2000 which, incidentally, is still more recent than Indiana’s last bowl victory.
Food: Mango, or Pepper?
I’ve been doing these potlucks for…five or six years, at least, and I’ll be honest: I’m damn near out of ideas. But every once in a while, search for some new regional delicacies to regale you with, you come across a headline like this:
After my fury subsided, I decided to learn something, thanks to the Indy Star:
Food historian Karen Hess and author of Martha Washington’s Book ofCookery told Segal that in 18th-century England there was a demand for Indian-style pickles like fruit mangos stuffed with spices and kept in a vinegar brine. Mangoes weren’t available in England so they used substitutes such as green peppers. By way of English cookbooks printed in America, the recipe for stuffed mangoes using peppers spread across America.
Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana use the dual name, possibly because of the large Amish settlements (fond of pickling) in those states. As time passed, even unstuffed peppers continued to be called mangoes.
So, technically, it’s not our fault, but rather the British.
We wouldn’t, of course, claim something like Sechler’s Pickles for the Hoosiers alone, given that Purdue fans are infinitely angrier, as a rule, and infinitely more online. But tell me, writers:
* Any historically misunderstood and/or misnamed foods from your state or region akin to the green pepper/mango?
* In honor of Tom Allen’s piss and vinegar, anything you’ve canned or pickled that you’d like to brag about?
MaximumSam: My uncle always called green peppers mangos, and I never understood why, and now I do. OTE doing the Lord’s work. He also made chili sauce to put on hot dogs, despite there being absolutely no chili in it.
On the other hand, he made some pretty mean jarred foods, including tomato preserves, rhubarb jam, and 14 day pickles. Those pickles were so good a girl in college fell for me over them. Tom Allen can appreciate that.
HWAHSQB: It’s nothing really all that special, but when the garden is making fresh produce, my favorite thing to eat is tomato salad, with chopped tomato, onion, green pepper, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Simple, but so good. I do the same thing with zucchini and cucumber in place of the tomato. I don’t grow jalapenos, but if I have some laying around, I’ll throw those in too.
As far as mis-named foods, people in both Iowa and Minnesota call carbonated beverages pop instead of soda. Weird, right?
MNW: You get the hell out of my state this instant, sir.
Long live anything in the Midwest that is called a salad but is based in whipped cream. I won’t even start on salads based in mayonnaise.
I need to learn start doing my own sauerkraut. My late grandma could do it and paired it with some amazing dumplings, and I feel like a bad Czech that I can’t.
Buffkomodo: My mother called beef “Brown Chicken” when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was 15 until I realized it was because my sister (12 at the time) can be difficult and refused to eat beef because she liked chicken better. My sister is gullible and bought the lie, thus it continued for her entire childhood and into her adult years until she finally had her husband (who is a damn good cook) cook her beef and she proceeded to ask my mother about this at Thanksgiving dinner where we all mocked her relentlessly. So in our house, beef is brown chicken.
BoilerUp89: For some reason or another, people seem to get really riled up about Cincinnati’s chili. It’s delicious so all your terrible takes about it are wrong.
Kind of…: I too like spaghetti with a meat sauce featuring hints of chocolate drowned in cheese of a caliber the government hands out for free…why would anybody not like Cincinnati chili? (JFC.)
Anyway, pickled asparagus is a wonderful addition to any Bloody Mary.