Time for IU to move the chains

October 6, 2008
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billIt’s time for Indiana University leaders to make the same commitment to football they've made to basketball.

And I don’t want to hear any more excuses about this being a basketball state. I’d say the Indianapolis Colts dispelled that myth several years ago. A winning football team attracts fans and makes money. A winning IU football program would turn fall Saturdays in Bloomington into Bedlam. I mean that in a good way.

Think for a moment what an IU vs. Notre Dame clash would mean in this state if both teams were ranked nationally. It would be huge. Because IU attracts supporters from every corner of the state that never attended the school, it would be much bigger than say a Purdue vs. Notre Dame match-up under the same conditions. It’s the same reason that no matter how much Purdue’s basketball program wins, it will never be as big as IU. I’m of the belief that IU made Bobby Knight, not the other way around.

An IU athletic department official last month said he has learned that just because the school fields a good team, doesn’t mean fans will automatically come to Memorial Stadium. It takes several years to build a following, he said. Baloney! IU officials need to learn this: Indiana residents are smart about sports. They know scheduling three college teams not much better than Bloomington South and putting up some early wins, doesn’t mean you have a good team.

I don’t want to go too hard on student-athletes, but IU currently has a team with an offensive line that couldn’t block Jell-o. And Kellen Lewis is a good athlete, but not a Div. I quarterback.

It’s time for IU to stop messing around and hire a coach who can recruit, teach and has a game-day plan that at least gives the team a chance to win. I’m sorry, Bill Lynch is by all accounts a wonderful person. But he’s not going to take IU to the next level.

This is more than an emotional plea. Building IU into a national football power makes good business sense. A winning football program has a lot more potential to make money than the basketball team ever will. Want proof. One winning season last year, and the IU football team outscored the basketball team in revenue $17 million to $12.3 million. The football team accounted for almost 40 percent of the $44.7 million that IU’s athletic department brought in during 2007, up from only 28 percent in 2005. Increasing per game attendance by 20,000 to 25,000 brings in another $4 million in annual revenue—in ticket and parking  sales alone.

I’ve been told you can’t attract a high-quality coach without tradition. Fooey! IU needs to take its increased earnings—and borrow some from the future if necessary—and go buy itself some tradition—in the form of a $2 million to $3 million a year head coach. Tell me why not. IU already pays basketball coach Tom Crean nearly $2.5 million a year. Bill Lynch, by the way, will earn a $250,000 base salary this year. What does that say?

Some of IU’s most monied alumni certainly would further financially support the school’s athletic department if school officials made such a commitment. Why do I think that? Because some of IU’s most monied alumni have privately told me so. They’re tired of being associated with a losing football program. They’ve had it with being the Big 10 doormat. And they’d pay handsomely to move up far enough to at least get a peak of the penthouse.

Many of those IU alumni live in a city where they learned a long time ago that the value of sports and winning goes far beyond the playing field. It’s time for IU officials to wake up and learn the same lesson.
  • This ignores the biggest hurdle to fielding a successful college football team: the recruiting base. Indiana does not produce enough elite HS football talent to support a top-tier Division I program. It is not a coincidence that the top college programs are generally located in the top states for high school talent states. (OH, TX, CA, FL and PA).

    Indiana, even with all the money talked about, would still always be at a disadvantage because of its deficiencies in recruiting base.
  • Levi: That is no longer the case. Enough top Div 1 kids leave for Michigan, MSU, FLorida and others to make a great squad. This article is exactly on the $.
  • If Levi were right, then you would not have teams like Wisconsin and Michigan competing for B10 championships. Purdue has had great success in mining the talent from Texas. Indiana produces great ballplayers, although many of them elect to go out of state.

    iu should put money into fielding a good team. As Purdue has shown, you do not need a constant B10 champion or national contender to bring in fans and dollars.
  • Well said we need to move up to the big time.
  • I couldn't agree more. After Saturday's horrendous loss (and it was horrendous, despite the score) I realized that we have almost 0 chance now of making another bowl game. That will destroy everything that was built up only in the last year and we will be back to big ten bottom-feeder. The AD needs to put the money and time into getting us a good coach who can recruit.
  • Hey, but now that Ball St. is ranked at least the Hoosiers can say they've lost to a ranked team.
  • MSU is ranked too. My prediction is IU goes 4-8.
  • I can't be the only alum & long term season ticket holder whom shook their head when Lynch was hired! We hired a mediocre football coach and the resluts have been the same. Lynch either finishes strong and has a winning season (doubtful,) or IU should have the NEW AD hire a top 50 coach. Sure IU will be throwing Lynch under the bus, that's how competitive businesses operate - produce or bye-bye!
  • I absolutely agree with the premise of the article: that IU should spend big in a big way for Football. And now is the time!

    We have a new stadium addition, presumably that includes top flight training areas, etc.; we are soon to have a new AD that can make his mark with this hire; we are just finishing the Sampson debacle correctly following it up with a similar approach to the one redcommended by hiring Crean and look what it has already accomplished: it seems we have assembled a prominently recognized top 10 basketball recruiting class for 2009.

    In addition, IU is an internationally recognized brand and not just for their Basketball. [By the way, I agree that without IU, Bobby Knight would not have had the accolades he has and rightly deserves.]. Our schools of Business, Music 7 Medicine just to name a few draw fans, alumni, students, professors and grants from the world over.

    so, just thinnk what a cash cow football program could do for the entire university community! The time to act is NOW!!!!
  • As an IU graduate I agree that it is time for the university to stop settling for mediocrity. Spend the money and get a great football coach and watch the revenue increase. Wouldn't it be great for IU to have such a demand for season football tickets that there was a waiting list?
  • Remember the days when lynch was at ball state and at the same time had the longest losing streak in Division-I football? How ironic. Greenspan is an idiot and made yet another stupid decision. Now that he is gone, lets get rid of the rest of his stupid mistakes. They settled for mediocrity when they hired him. Fire him!!! It looks like it won't be expensive to do so.
  • Lynch said after the loss to Ball State that it was a great game. Are you kidding me? You just got your lunch handed to you by Ball State!

    Could someone please tell my why the IU football team's uniforms are a different color than the basketball team? Don't most universities have ONE color scheme?
  • One point I'd like to add to the article I posted earlier today. IU has long since been noted for having one of the top music schools in the nation. Yet Wisconsin is lauded again and again for its marching band and entertaining football game atomosphere. It's time to use sports--in this case the football program--to showcase IU's other assets--in this case a world-class music school. And let the showtime begin.
  • Yeah, let's emulate Wisconsin. Its band was suspended for Saturday's game because of hazing, sexual harassment and other such activities. Its band has a lengthy list of transgresssions. It was sent home early from the Big Ten tournament here a couple of years ago.
    Indiana's musical school doesn't need football to be its showcase. It has a world-class reputation on its own.
    Question: Do any of you complainers actually go to the games? If you don't, then you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. When you bring five-star recruits to the stadium and they see 40 percent of the seats empty and witness the drunken carnage taking place across 17th street, Knute Rockne himself couldn't convince them to cast their lot with Indiana.
    Rick Greenspan, for all his faults, hired the right guy. But then he died.
    Give Bill Lynch a chance. He has a contract. Honor it.
  • Bill, I have tickets for the Northwestern game as a matter of fact. You have to understand that you need to win in order to fill those seats. You need to get people excited and you need to do it consistently. An give me a break, I'm sure those recruits are horribly offended by (gasp!) drunkeness at a football game. I agree that Hep was a good hire but that doesn't mean Lynch was a good hire. I know you need to look at more than just the record to determine how good the coach is. That's why I watch the games. That tells you if he is calling the right plays, or standing there on the sidelines pacing back and forth was his head down. We have a decent team but we need someone to take our individual pieces and make them fit. Lynch just doesn't seem to care enough to try and get us to play better.
  • Baseball, nice of you to show up once a year. I have season tickets.
    And the drunkeness I refer to is not in the stadium, it's across the street, where thousands of students gather to party with no intention of going to the game.
    My point is, the lack of support is part of the problem.
    But here's what we should do. Let's go hire that big-name proven winner. So what if he doesn't graduate players or has a few recruiting infractions in his background. As long as he wins, all will be swell.
    Wait a second, we just did that in basketball. And that sure worked out.
  • Anthony, you are so right. IU hasn't even been a basketball school for years. The current athletic program has shown an amazing lack of commitment to anything over the past decade. Step up to the plate IU. You need to spend money to make money. Get a top-notch coach and you don't need to limit your recruiting to the state of Indiana. Would be nice to see a Big Ten football championshiop before I die. They can't keep hiring from mediocrity hoping they get lucky. We went to three bowl games in the four years I attended IU under the leadership of Bill Mallory. There were butts in the seats at those games. Winning brings attendance, but you have to do something to make sure you win. It doesn't just happen.
  • No one ever accused IU of being a well run school for a long time. They are paying money to several coaches that haven't coached there in years.
    You can not just say spend money=success. Big time programs get big time coaches because they live and die with said program. (Mich, OSU, AL, FL) I don't think IU was in the running for Rich Rodriguez or Nick Saban b/c major programs can match dollars AND offer more upside. You grow tradition you don't buy it.
  • iu's problem is they let emotion control their hires. They let knight get out of hand and had to fire him. Then they made another mistake by letting the players control who was the next coach in Davis. Of course he had one good run and then nothing. That was followed up by the attitude of we need to hire a name coach any name coach. After allegedly getting turned down by the first few choices, they went after the next name coach and damn the consequences. Well now they are paying for it again. Now in football, they got Coach Hep which was a Godsend. Unfortunately God decided he needed him. So again on emotion they hired his assistant. Now how long will they stick with him based on emotion?

    And Bill, as a long time Boiler fan, winning is needed to fill the seats. We averaged around 40,000 per game until we brought in Tiller and started winning and then we packed the place. Our attendance jumped 10,000 per game from '98 to '99.
  • Let’s not get off point with Wisconsin’s band. The point is, Wisconsin has built a great reputation for having a marching band that performs very well and is very entertaining. That reputation goes back 20 plus years. I have gone to every IU home game for 23 years. And IU can’t continue to have the band play Louie Louie and expect that to pass muster for an institution with a world-class music school. It's an abomination! That no longer passes for entertainment. If you don't like the comparison to Wisconsin's band, I attended the Circle City Classic last weekend. Now those are some marching bands. That's entertainment! As for play on the field, it's abhorrent. I've had it! No more excuses. No more nonesense from IU leaders or university apoligists. It's time for IU to get a coach that can recruit at least to the standards of Purdue. Gradutate players. And win some meaningful games. No more excuses! Growing tradition starts with developing some intestinal fortitude. It's time to get it done!
  • I hate to say this, but look at Illinois as an example of building a football tradition. Granted they have had more success than IU on the football field over the past 5-10 years, but they were in a downward spiral after 2001 and they decided to fix it.

    They finally got fed up with a medicore football program and went out and hired a name, Ron Zook. While Zook didn't have the greatest history at Florida, he did have some name recognition which went a long way to showing fans that Illinois was serious about putting a winning football program together. He recruited top level talent and put a winning team on the field in just a couple of seasons.

    Who wanted to go play at Illinois? No one. They were winning 1-3 games a year and attendance was starting to dip below 50k a game. Now, with Ron Zook, they are recruiting 4 star players and an occasional 5 star player, they are selling out games, they have made the Rose Bowl.

    I don't see Bill Lynch ever being able to recruit 4 and 5 star players to IU. I don't see Bill Lynch ever being able to get IU to the Rose Bowl, let alone another bowl game.

    He may be a decent assistant or positional coach, but he just can't cut it as a head coach at a BCS school.

    It's time to move on and find ourselves someone who can coach at this level.
  • I think it's time for IU to disband its athletic teams and get back to the education business. As a taxpayer in this state, I would appreciate the relief.
  • Again lets not get off point. We could argue a lot of things about education and athletics. I think there's a pretty compelling argument that athletics is a part of education and that having Div. I basketball and football programs on campus round out the collegiate experience for all students. We won't even talk about the marketing value they bring to a university. And yes, people, I'm sorry, but you have to market these learning institutions. Furthermore, from a business standpoint, if the program is run properly, the basketball and football programs should be self-funding (read that again, Joyce, they should be self-funding). Not only that, well-run football and basketball programs should also pay for the non-revenue generating sports, and that includes all women's sports. You Title IX folks know all about the opportunities that these programs bring about. This is not about tax dollars! I repeat this is not about tax dollars! This is about making strong fiscal decisions and at the same time a commitment to excellence. Those things are not, I repeat, not mutually exclusive.
  • With the new facilities and expansion of the stadium I do think it is time for IU to move to the next level.

    It would have been great if BL could have been the guy but IMO the reality is that while he is a very likeable guy he will not get IU to where they want to be.

    It is a real shame that with 8 home games and no Michigan or Ohio State on the schedule it looks like IU will be at home vs being at a bowl game.

    GO IU!

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