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B1G 2023: Indiana and the Familiar Feeling of Pessimism

If you’re looking for optimism, we’re fresh out of that. Zuzu used it all on Rutgers week.

I have so many graphics at this point, I have no idea whose this is. I’m sorry Internet GODS.

Well, here we are again. Another spring is upon us, and believe it or not we are a mere 4 months until college football returns to us in all it’s messy glory. Since this is a May cocktail party, that means it’s time to discuss the mess that is Indiana Hoosier football.

Ah, the Indiana Hoosiers. The apple of my eye. The shitty smell that wafts up after you realize you’ve stepped in cat shit. Probably MNW’s cat, but I digress.

Since that fateful Kevin Wilson 1-11 year, Indiana football seemed to find its footing somewhat. Despite losing a terrific offensive coach and also horrible person, Indiana had appeared to become a .500 level program under the combined push of Wilson and Tom Allen. Tom Allen was able to take Indiana to back to back bowls and even sported a national ranking in two straight years.

Then the bottom fell out. Off the highs of the 2020 season, the 2021 season saw a veteran Indiana squad disintegrate into a 2-10 and a winless year in the B1G. That set the stage for 2022, and the terrors that Tom Allen would unleash on Indiana fans.

2022 Season Recap

Coming in with no expectations from anyone, Tom Allen’s squad would start…strong?...with 3 straight wins. Indiana started the year beating what proved to be a good Illinois squad at home, then required WAY more time than necessary to beat a still decent Idaho squad, and then required the mother of all dick trips by Western Kentucky to seal off the 3-0 start.

Indiana would then proceed to lose 7 straight games including the scheduling malpractice Cincinnati game, blowing a tight game at a Nebraska squad sporting an interim coach that LOST TO NORTHWESTERN, playing actually well against Michigan but ultimately shooting itself in the foot too much to win, BLOWING THE MARYLAND GAME, BLOWING THE RUTGERS GAME, getting dismantled against Penn State, and then getting dismantled against Ohio State.

Just when Indiana was written off for dead, Indiana made a QB switch and the worst rushing team in the Big Ten ran for 257 yards while going 2/7 in the air and ended up winning the Brass Spittoon in East Lansing. The magic did not last, and Indiana lost to Purdue at home to close the year 4-8. The transfer portal would come into effect, and Indiana would then lose around 20 players to the transfer portal, including the crown jewel of the 2021 recruiting class Dasan McCullough and Trevell Mullen, brother of All-American Tiawan Mullen and 4* corner in his own right.

What to Expect in 2023 from the Hoosiers

Honestly, you don’t know what to expect, but you expect it to be bad. Bad enough that national folks will try and figure out why Tom Allen is still employed at Indiana. There is really nothing major to look forward to on offense. There is nothing fantastic returning on defense. It’s really just a sad sight to see.

The small boost Indiana fans were looking forward to likely won’t play in 2023. Indiana QB Dexter Williams impressed everyone when he came in relief against Penn State, and then he did the impossible and won his first start on the road at Michigan State. It appeared early in the Purdue game that Indiana might just give Purdue a loss with Williams running all over…until that terrible lower leg injury occurred. It wasn’t just an ACL or MCL, it was dislocation/fracture/Kevin Ware type shit. In football, that’s a long road for recovery. And with that recovery, goes Indiana fan’s hopes and dreams.

I said it a few times last season, but I’ll bring it back up here in this article too. After the successful year that was 2020, Indiana had momentum and a veteran roster. However, that veteran roster was due to turnover a bit until the COVID year became available to players to return. You also saw players who felt loyalty to Allen stick around a year past when they should have bolted…*coughs loudly* Ty Fryfogle, Tiawan Mullen**cough cough**. You also saw Indiana take a horrible step back in player development over the 2020-2021 season and when the young guys needed to play last year, they struggled. Everyone saw after the 2020 season, there was going to be some rebuilding that was necessary. We would have accepted a rebuild or retooling and the struggles that ensued. What you couldn’t have was a season where you promise the moon and then you deliver rocks out of a creek bed. Which was exactly what happened.

You see, 2022 was always going to be the second retooling year before a major step forward this season. A retooling year where if Allen was the coach we all wanted him to be they could have still went bowling last season, but it would still be a retooling year. 2021 was supposed to be the rebuild after 2019 and 2020. Instead of rebuilding, you saw players hope to relive former glory, fall flat on their face from the first snap, and then quit halfway through the season. That effectively negated the highs of the last two years. Add in a 2022 season where Indiana squandered so many opportunities (see Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland, Why the fuck do you even scheduled Cincinnati if you’re Indiana), you start to get a lot of chatter about how Tom Allen has pretty much mismanaged this program into something that’s neither desirable nor productive. As one person said last year, “never have I been watching a game and thought, ‘well at least we have Tom Allen as our coach. He’ll come up with something good here.’”.

And that’s pretty much where we are. The belief in Tom Allen has receded to the point where trust is about 50-50. Many times, he just flatly appears incompetent at leading a Big Ten program. This goes one of 2 ways:

1) Indiana surprises and goes 6-6 or 7-5, and the Allen chatter subsides for now

2) Indiana dives back into the bottom of the B1G and flat out is uncompetitive, in which case Indiana fans should buckle up for about 4 more years of shit football before someone else can come in and win some games.

I think it’s going to be option 2, but what do I know. I write about football on the internet.

Enough of my sad singing. Trust me, you’ll get plenty more pessimism this week. So to the OTE “writers”:

1) How did you feel about parting with the last coach your school removed/fired/had hired away to the NFL at the time, and can you say it was for the better?

BoilerUp89: I’m extremely grateful for Jeff Brohm’s tenure at Purdue so in a way I’m sad that he left to Louisville. On the other hand, we all saw it coming at some point and while Brohm is a pretty good offensive play caller his roster building and program management left something to be desired (more on that during Purdue week far in the future). As for whether the new guy will be better - way too early to say.

Brian: Michigan replaced Brady Hoke with Jim Harbaugh. It was a change for the better.

RockyMtnBlue: Well our last fired coach was Brady Hoke. The only people on earth who were unhappy about that were MSU fans and OSU fans. Hoke was surprisingly good at recruiting, but should not be running a football program. Probably not even in high school. Dave Brandon’s peddling and meddling didn’t help, but he was tragically over his head.

MNW: It was Jim O’Neil and honestly I just have this weight lifted from my shoulders.

As far as “head” coach, you’ll want to ask someone else. I was 13 months old when Francis Peay got fired.

Thumpasaurus: I can pretty safely say that Bret Bielema is an upgrade over Lovie Smith. Lovie was two years past his expiration date and he had to go.

WSR: If you didn’t think Tracy Claeys needed to be fired, I don’t want to associate with you unless it involves me scowling and perhaps yelling at you. Take your “BUt 9 WiNZ!!” and fuck all the way off back to whichever rural town you’re from and get back to making jokes about how terrifying Minneapolis is on Facebook.

2) What do you think about Tom Allen as a coach?

BoilerUp89: He’s Indiana’s version of Danny Hope. A guy that can rally players and serve as the face of the organization. But not a strong play caller or player development guy. Unlike Hope, Allen had some really good coordinators early in his tenure so he had a decent run of success.

Brian: I think he needs to have a good season this year.

MNW: Oof, that Danny Hope comparison seems...really apt, at this point.

He strikes me as the coordinator who the players love. He’s got his mantra, he’s got his personality, but when he makes it to the head chair, it’s going to be a replacement-level job. I wouldn’t mind being wrong about that, because despite some of the...proselytizing...he seems like a decent human being. But I think early-days Indiana had its LEO bounce and Allen hasn’t figured out what to do next.

Thumpasaurus: A more worrying comparison might be Lou Tepper, under whom the Illini had some generational defenses and squandered offensive talent with no concrete plan for using it. Tepper’s tenure took Illinois from a place comfortably in the second tier of Big Ten football all the way to the bottom. He is sometimes referred to as “Coach Death Penalty” among the old heads who compare his tenure to what happened to SMU.

WSR: When I was a kid, I loved him in Home Improvement. I don’t think I’ve really liked anything since, though. And I really don’t have much respect for snitches.

Indiana Hoosiers 2023 Schedule

Sept 2 – Ohio State – HOME

Sept 8 – Indiana State – HOME

Sept 16 – Louisville – Lucas Oil Stadium

Sept 23 – Akron – HOME

Sept 30 – Maryland – AWAY

Oct 14 – Michigan – AWAY

Oct 21 – Rutgers – HOME

Oct 28 – Penn State – Away

Nov 4 – Wisconsin – HOME

Nov 11 – Illinois – Away

Nov 18 – Michigan State – HOME

Nov 25 – Purdue - Away

What did YOU think about last season for the Hoosiers? Am I being too pessimistic? Let us know down below!