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SPORTS Bill Benner: Get rid of Lynch? IU has numerous reasons not to

October 20, 2008

Critics are chirping like cicadas and basically singing the same song. One, get rid of Lynch, the sooner the better. And two, spend money, lots of it, on a "big-name" coach.

If only it were as simple as the knee-jerks would have you believe.

Perhaps they have forgotten, but Indiana has a lame-duck athletic director, Rick Greenspan, who won't clean out his Assembly Hall office until Dec. 31. A search committee is vetting applicants. I'm told there are exceptional candidates for the position. Let's hope because, as I have stated, this will be one of the most important hires in the athletic department's history.

In any case, Greenspan is not about to pull the trigger on Lynch-the man he named to replace the late Terry Hoeppner less than a year ago-before he leaves. And I can't conceive that the new athletic director would make his first order of business firing Lynch and embarking on a search for that so-called "big name" or even someone of lesser national stature (Ball State University's Brady Hoke seems to be the up-and-comer choice du jour).

Thus, given the transitional status of the athletic director, if someone were to determine a change is necessary for IU football, that responsibility would fall to President Michael McRobbie.

Again, it would seem McRobbie has quite enough to deal with-foremost, that nasty situation with IU basketball and potential NCAA probation-without creating more upheaval by firing/hiring a football coach. I would think he wants to get an athletic director in place to deal with those issues and get athletics off his plate.

Then again, if the power-brokers in the IU hierarchy-that would be the trustees, and those with enough money that they essentially "own" trustees-I suppose anything could happen.

Before I proceed, an aside. Sitting three rows behind me in Memorial Stadium is one of those trustees. I won't mention Evansville's Pat Shoulders by name. During the first half of the Michigan State game, every time IU made a positive play, Shoulders would shout, "Trustee leadership!" In the second half, as the Hoosiers faltered, Shoulders didn't return to his seat.

Now that's trustee leadership.

I digress.

Let's get back to the concept of that highsalaried, statement-making "big name" Indiana should go hire. Who is he? Why would he come to Bloomington other than to carpetbag money? This isn't Michigan, which hired a big name in Rich Rodriguez, who can't beat Toledo. This isn't Notre Dame, which hired a big name, Charlie Weis, who can't beat Navy. This isn't UCLA, which hired a big name, Rick Neuheisel, who lost 59-0 to BYU. This isn't South Carolina, which is paying Steve Spurrier $1.75 million a year so he can go 13-15 (his current mark) in the Southeastern Conference. This isn't Clemson, which hired a big name, Tommy Bowden, so it could fire him Oct. 13.

This isn't even IU basketball, which hired a big name, Kelvin Sampson, and just look how brilliantly that worked out.

Look, Indiana football was thrown for about an 80-yard loss when cancer claimed Hoeppner. Lynch and his staff did a tremendous job of pulling that team together and getting it into the post-season last year. To not give them a chance moving forward would have been a travesty.

What I know about Lynch is that he has class. He has character. That he had the guts to suspend his starting quarterback from spring ball because he knew Kellen Lewis had bigger lessons to be learned than how to check off to his second receiver. Contrast that with the way Sampson allowed the inmates to take over the basketball asylum.

Yes, the season to this point has been a major disappointment. Yes, at some point, class, character and discipline will not be enough. The Hoosiers will have to win. I know that. And I'm certain Lynch knows that.

But my message to the knee-jerks-many of whom couldn't find Memorial Stadium with a guide and a GPS-is that now is not the time for those judgments. I say Lynch gets this year and all of next. Then let the chips fall where they may.



Benner is associate director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. Listen to his column via podcast at www.ibj.com. He can be reached at bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.
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