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Indiana in the Buff with Mr. Komodo: Walt Bell Gets Fired After Loss and State of the Program Review

WARNING: There’s a heavy amount of me bitching in here.

Here’s the deal, this week’s Indiana in the Buff will take a hard left turn here. Through the past 4 weeks, I’ve been sharing stats and giving some game recaps and doing my best to please the mothership. However, this week will be different. This week, I need to rant and ramble because not only did the Indiana Hoosiers lose to the Maryland Terrapins spectacularly 44-17, but a whole lot of coaching has happened over the course of the game, in the post game, and over the day Sunday that really spells more for the Hoosier season than any stat line I can give you. If you want the box score, just go to ESPN.

Walt Bell is the Latest Tom Allen Sacrifice

Welp, it’s official. Tom Allen and the Indiana Hoosiers have fired Walt Bell effective Sunday afternoon. It’s difficult to really know how a coaching hire is going to pan out when you put someone on your staff…oh wait! NO IT ISN’T! Just last week, I recapped the thoughts that we at OTE had when Bell was hired in the winter of 2021/2022. Spoiler alert…nobody here thought this was a good hire.

Walt Bell is just newest Tom Allen sacrifice though. If you can recall, in November of 2021, Tom Allen fired offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan for poor performance. Last season, after completely rotting and decaying the Indiana offensive line over the course of 5 years, Tom Allen fired close friend and OL coach Darren Hiller. These are the three sacrifices that Tom Allen has made on the offensive side of the ball since Kalen DeBoer left for greener pastures. The real kicker is that over the course of 7 years in Bloomington, Tom Allen is now up to 5 offensive coordinators. They are: Mike Debord (retired but then miraculously ended up at Kansas as their OC for a hot minute until Lance Leipold got in the building), Kalen DeBoer (Left for Fresno State HC, Now Washington Husky HC), Nick Sheridan (Fired, Now Washington Husky TE coach), Walt Bell (Fired), and now Rod Carey. Just throw in the Darren Hiller firing and you’ve now had a major firing on the offensive side of the ball each of the last 3 seasons. And this isn’t even going into the nightmare that is your QB situation or the OL situation really.

All of this is to say that firing Walt Bell is basically just a move that Tom Allen felt like he had to make. The noise is too loud. The results too few. And now he has a cover on offense for the next 7 games he can trot out there and make excuses about and not really have to address the problems within the program. Which leads me into….

Rod Carey, Offensive Coordinator, NOT Interim Offensive Coordinator

Just who took the reigns over from Walter Bell may you ask? Well it looks like play calling duties will fall on Rod Carey now. Carey is the former head coach at Northern Illinois from 2012-2018 where he enjoyed a bit of success with the huskies. Carey won 2 MAC crowns over his reign at NIU and actually on paper doesn’t seem that bad of a stop gap. He was ejected right out of Temple after 3 years, one of those being COVID, but I’m not going to actually hold that or the player mistreatment allegations against him. It’s a weird time and when things don’t go well, people will come out of the woodwork to rail against you (like me).

Buff: HOWEVER, as you may have read, Rod Carey is the offensive coordinator.

You, Dear Reader: Like, yeah buff, he’s going to be the offensive coordinator through the end of the year and they’ll fill the spot in the offseason.

Buff: No, that would imply the word interim was anywhere in that previous sentence.

You, Dear Reader: You mean they just hired Rod Carey to be the permanent OC without a coaching search?

Buff: Yep.

You, Dear Reader:

Buff: Exactly.

You see, what this all implies is a level of mismanagement I have a hard time fathoming out of a B1G program. Let’s rewind the clock back to 2019. Indiana has just lost the Gator Bowl because ole Tommy didn’t foresee an onside kick. Stupid, but whatever. Kalen DeBoer, the lightning in a bottle play caller Indiana had just hired, has just bolted for a head coaching job at Fresno State because he absolutely killed it as Indiana OC. No worries, it happens. He was never long for that job. Out of that loss, you would naturally expect Indiana to hire an offensive coordinator to fill that gap. Indiana was coming off an 8-5 season with previous seasons of 6-7, 6-7. 5-7, and 5-7 behind it. To say it plainly, Indiana wasn’t looking like a dumpster fire. You could have attracted a talented offensive coordinator.

What does Tom Allen do? He promotes Nick Sheridan to offensive coordinator from QB coach. Nick Sheridan, who had never called plays before in his life. Who had never designed an offense from the ground up. They didn’t even perform a coaching search, they just promoted him and they literally wanted him to run Kalen DeBoers offense. Sure?

Well despite having success in the 2020 season, it was painfully obvious at multiple points that the play calls weren’t great. Towards the back half of the year, Indiana really struggled to score. And then in 2021 Indiana really struggled to score. Like, 9 touchdowns all B1G season struggled to score (that number of 9 was grabbed out of my ass, but it’s not far off). It was bad, and Sheridan was rightly fired. So then in 2021, Indiana performs a national coaching search after going 2-10 and the best they can come up with is….Walt Bell. And now that Walt Bell has been fired, no national search or implication that we may find someone after the season, it’s Carey and we’re rolling from here. Sure Tom. Sure.

Tom Allen’s No Good, Very Bad Program

Look, it doesn’t matter who’s calling plays, the playbook is more or less set in stone at this point. Indiana is falling into an abyss at Michigan in a couple weeks and will likely be 2-4 as they look to salvage the season against Rutgers on October 20th. In 3 weeks, you can kind of work out some kinks and if I thought there was competent leadership in the building, I’d say it could be done. But…

Perhaps the real harbinger of all of this is that it’s been…quite heavily implied and rumored…the REAL reason we got Walt Bell was because Bell was the only guy who Indiana could hire and keep the offensive coaching staff in tact. Meaning that at the time of the Bell hiring, he’d not fire anyone on the offensive side of the ball…such as Darren Hiller or any other offensive coach who’s not doing well. So basically Bell walked into a building that had been hired for him, had established connections to the program prior to him arriving, and in my estimations ran an offense that Tom Allen had his grubby little hands in. Sounds like a fantastic work environment that breeds success.

It doesn’t. It hasn’t. Anyone who has succeeded has done so in spite of Tom Allen, not because of him. That’s why only 2 coordinators he’s had are head coaches now.

None of this really speaks about how bad the defense is, and trust me I’ll get to it in time. However I feel that you’re only as good as the worst part of your program and right now….boy the offense is the worst. Perhaps even more galling is that Tom Allen is unable to mutter anything in the way of “well maybe we just aren’t doing a good job of coaching.”

Despite the tepid “I didn’t like the way we practiced” last week, he still mentions execution as the leading reason why this team stinks. I hate to tell you, if the players fail to execute at all on multiple occasions….IT’S THE FUCKING COACHING.

I really don’t know how else to put any of this. Indiana is at a crossroads and it’s still about to get worse. They’re getting pummeled at Michigan. I’d be shocked if they didn’t. I’m also to the point that Indiana is likely losing to Rutgers at home for a second straight time, 3 in a row actually. The program is in freefall, and all that’s being done is a permanent hire from someone who hasn’t called plays in at minimum 5 years and isn’t even using his playbook, firing of an objectively bad hire from the beginning, and….WHAT ELSE?

Everyone wants to couch criticism of Tom Allen as “well he’s a good man, but you know the results aren’t any good.” And to be quite honest, WHEN Tom Allen gets fired, yeah, there will be a degree of sadness that this didn’t work out. However, as the man who awkwardly confronted Tom Allen about Walt Bell last week said, “this is a business.” It’s a business, and Tom Allen ain’t getting the results. I don’t care what ESPN or the Indy Star says about coaches wanting to come to Indiana, but I have a hard time believing that a 5-6 million dollar salary isn’t enough to get a competent coach. KANSAS HIRED LANCE LEIPOLD FOR $2.75 MILLION A YEAR INITIALLY.

In Conclusion

It’s just so tough to continually do this song and dance. As an Indiana football fan, there’s a degree of toxicity between Indiana basketball and football. Mostly it comes from the, “well, the football team sucks so when does basketball season start” and to be honest I’m not sure why anyone gets upset with this. Kevin Wilson (rumored) famously purchased all of the “Never lost a tailgate” shirts in Bloomington and set them on fire when he got hired. The culture around Hoosier football has always been one of losing.

Do you know what? People don’t like to watch their teams lose. People also aren’t willing to invest support in something that’s going to let them down. Not even like, eventually be let down. I mean let down right now. A bunch of people also bitched about students leaving the Ohio State game early this year in a game that ended up as predictable and boring as they come.

To you people who hate the “when does basketball start” question, what do you propose? Undying loyalty? I mean Ohio State/Indiana brought in over 4.5 million views. People watched. Indiana lost. Now, Indiana goes a month without a home game, after the last home game was a 4OT “thriller” to MAC basement dweller Akron. In between that month, Indiana will have lost to Maryland by a shit ton, had a bye week, and then will likely be demolished by Michigan. Do you really think ANYONE is coming to that Rutgers homecoming game?

And it’s not like this is a one off season. In 2021, fans FLOCKED to Bloomington for the Cincinnati game, even AFTER getting pummeled in embarrassing fashion by Iowa the week before. They stayed the whole time. Indiana went 2-10 that season. WHAT DO YOU WANT FANS TO DO?

I don’t know what the answer to all this is, but I can tell you the program is arguably in the worst position it’s been in since Gery DiNardo, and it’s all self inflicted this time. If you ever see this Mr. Dolson, get this shit fixed quickly, otherwise, your TV money might just dry up one day when you land in the MAC.

Hoosier Hysteria – Friday, October 20th

Indiana vs University of Indianapolis – October 29th – Exhibition

Indiana vs Marian – November 3rd – Exhibition

Indiana vs Florida Gulf Coast – November 7th


Are you someone annoyed by Hoosier fans asking when basketball season starts?

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  • 18%
    (18 votes)
  • 36%
    (36 votes)
  • 0%
    No, but I’m a Notre Dame fan
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  • 44%
    Indiana has a football program? Neat.
    (44 votes)
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