IU's new football coach will need special vision

December 8, 2010
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To succeed as Indiana University athletics director, you need to have a special kind of vision.

The school’s current athletics director, Fred Glass, knows well that most of the top-shelf football gurus with serious Division I head coaching experience wouldn’t consider coming to Bloomington to lead the Hoosiers.

So Glass had to find himself someone at least a little under the radar. Glass also must have felt he had to pay a hefty sum to show his seriousness about building the program and to throw his unquestioned support behind his new hire.

So Glass agreed to pay Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson three times what he made during his final season with the Sooners.

The $1.2 million annually Wilson will earn for seven long years is the most any IU football coach has ever made. It’s five times higher than Bill Lynch’s base salary. Now that’s commitment.

And once you dig into the contract, I’m sure Wilson will have ample opportunity to make more than $2 million annually through incentives. That could bring Wilson up to par with Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean.

If Wilson can do the unthinkable, and win the Big Ten, he’ll make more than Crean. And it only makes sense, because a thriving college football program has much more opportunity to generate revenue than does a school’s men’s basketball team.

But to take the Hoosier to the mountain top, Wilson’s vision will have to be at least as good as most IU supporters are hoping Glass’ is.

Here’s why. Wilson has the same problem as Glass. He won’t be able to compete with Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan for top football talent, just the same way Glass can’t compete with those schools for top football coaching talent. Wilson won’t have the luxury he had at Oklahoma, where high school all-Americans regularly flow into Norman.

So Wilson will have to have a special kind of vision to identify diamonds in the rough and other players overlooked by the bigs. He’ll have to take their special talents and mold them into a team that’s at least competitive with the guys he simply can’t talk into coming to IU. Just the same way Glass had to recruit a guy who he hopes can match wits on the gridiron with all the guys who he couldn’t afford or would simply never consider coaching football at a program like IU.

If Glass has found a man in Wilson who can do that, and Wilson actually pulls it off, then no one will cry about the $8.4 million IU pays him over the next seven years. Nor will they complain about the $5 million to $8 million in incentives Indiana shells out to Wilson.

And the buyout clause in Wilson’s contract—as well as his loyalty to the Cream and Crimson—will get as stern a test as anything his football team faces on the field.

  • Glass Just Blew at Least $8.4 Million
    How does IUâ??s $1.2 million commitment stack up?

    Wilson, who has never been a college head coach, is already making more money than 56 Division I college coaches who have.

    History repeats itself with IU waste and mismanagement with CIB legion Fred Glass at the helm pumping football at any expense.

  • A little objectivity, please
    Come on, Anthony--how about if you approach your subject with a little objectivity? You start your column off with the assumption that Fred Glass has great vision just because he saw fit to hire this joke from one of the biggest cheater institutions in the NCAA. Knowing that big-name coaches wouldn't take the Bloomington job on a bet doesn't take a special kind of vision, Anthony; good God, any college football fan within 1000 miles of Bloomington knows that. This is not going to end well, mark my words.
  • ??? for Derrick
    I'm not sure I understand how you come to the conclusion that I assume Fred Glass has great vision. If you've read my blog consistently, you know I've been as hard on Fred Glass (and the IU athletics department) as anyone. I'd be the first to tell you, and Fred Glass himself would be the first to admit, that he came to this job with little collegiate sports experience and only the knowledge of an avid fan. I only said that if he is to hire a good or great football coach at IU, it would take a great deal of vision. And if IU's new football coach is going to succeed, it would take that same kind of vision. An uncommon vision, the type of which is not needed, when you coach football at an institution with the on-field heritage, tradition and respect of OU. I'm not speaking here about how OU handles its business off the field. That's another kettle of fish entirely. My conclusion in all of this is that to succeed in football at IU will take a unique type of visionary on at least two levels. Now whether they have that type of visionary in Glass and Wilson, is anyone's guess. I don't think any of us can judge that astutely at this time. But with Glass' first major hire (Wilson), we'll start to get that answer. Thanks as always for reading.
  • IU got it right?
    It looks like IU isn't the only one hiring a guy with no head coaching experience. I think Florida's hiring of a top assistant with no head coaching experience, puts IU's hiring in a different light. And actually makes IU's move look a whole lot smarter. If plucking a top assistant is good enough for a power like Florida, surely it is good enough for IU.

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