Coaching search gives Hoosiers uncertain future

November 29, 2010

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass is taking on another rebuilding project.

Less than 48 hours after the Hoosiers won their biggest game in three years, and less than 24 hours after Glass fired coach Bill Lynch, the search for a replacement has begun in earnest.

"I was always hoping for the best and planning for the worst and hoped this wouldn't come because I am very fond of Bill," Glass said. "The lack of tangible success is what pushed me in the direction that I went. It has been really hard on me. It wasn't fun, but I am confident it is the right decision for the institution."

Those within the program might dispute the notion that it will take a new coach to right the program.

Every player who spoke to reporters after Saturday's victory at Purdue said he respected Lynch for accepting the blame for the players' mistakes and that they wanted to beat Purdue more for their coach than for themselves.

Glass met with those players on Monday, though neither the athletic director nor the players were made available to reporters as the transition starts.

Lynch, the successor to the Terry Hoeppner era, is now gone. His assistants have been replaced by a transition team that will try to keep the Hoosiers' strong recruiting class intact. Senior quarterback Ben Chappell has graduated and top receiver Tandon Doss will at least consider entering the NFL draft early.

"We'll see in a few weeks," Doss said after the win at Purdue. "I don't know yet, but we'll see."

The problem at Indiana hasn't just been losing.

It's been change.

The new coach, whomever it is, will become the school's sixth since 1996 — more than any other Big Ten school.

He will take over a team that has only three Big Ten wins over the past three years and just ended a 12-game losing streak against conference foes and a 15-game losing skid against league opponents away from Bloomington.

He will be the beneficiary of a stadium renovation that will help Indiana (5-7, 1-7 Big Ten) in recruiting and a television deal that will allow Glass to offer a contract at the going rate instead of the roughly $660,000 Lynch made.

Most fans think that makes this the right time to make a change.

But the new coach must settle on a new quarterback, likely choosing between Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel, Lynch's prized recruits from two years ago, and may even ditch the spread offense Hoeppner installed and Lynch perfected. He'll also have to improve a defense that gave up 34 points per game in 2010.

None of it will be easy.

"If I was a guy who was returning, it would have been tough learning a new system," said Colts quarterback Curtis Painter, who played on Joe Tiller's final team at Purdue. "Change is sometimes needed, and I think maybe that's what teams in this situation look for."

Fans and players are more interested in names, though.

At Sunday's news conference, Glass declined to say what traits he is seeking or who is on his "short list." Rather, Glass said the university will hire a consulting firm to assist in with the search and he will meet with people who include Colts President Bill Polian and former Colts coach Tony Dungy before making the selection.

Until the hire is made, speculation will run rampant.

For the past couple of weeks, fans have bandied about names such as former Ball State coach and current San Diego State coach Brady Hoke and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. Other fan favorites include Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and former Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who spent this year coaching in the United Football League. And that's just the start.

"I would just like to point out something from my political days which is, the people that are doing the talking don't know, and the people that know aren't talking," Glass said. "If you haven't taken it from me, I would take it with a huge grain of salt. My observation of these from afar is you have all kinds of people taking themselves out of searches they were never in and declining jobs they were never offered."

The only real certainty is that the Indiana football program will look very different next season — and that's by design.

Glass just hopes the results change, too.

"The cupboard is not bare," Glass said. "One of Bill's legacy's is that he has left the kind of foundation that has not been left in previous transitions. I think it is a job where you can step in and not look around and wonder where everybody went. We have some really talented players on the team."


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