The answer to Indiana's football problems?
Over the next few weeks, I plan on doing Q-and-A's with opposing bloggers about Northwestern's football season. The only problem is that the questions I ask are generally different from those normal people ask, and then one question about football.
Hmm. Confused by this one. Did you mean Indiana has a losing record against every other Big Ten team? If so, that's no longer true. IU is 9-7-3 against Nebraska. Take that, Nebraska! Then I thought you might mean Indianawas the only school with a (regular season) losing record last year, but Minnesota went 3-9. Then I thought you might mean that IU is the only school that has a losing record since college football was invented in 1995, but then I realized a) wrong Northwestern blog and b) Illinois and Minnesota are below the line as well (Northwestern is a whopping 104-103 in this golden era). So I'll have to let you explain.
(Editor's Note: As you might be able to tell, I accidentally left out the important part - that they have a losing record AGAINST NORTHWESTERN.)
Even though he's never coached football before, do you believe Tom Crean would be able to will Indiana to a better season than Kevin Wilson just due to how intense he is and how much Indiana fans like Tom Crean?
Well, he could rely heavily on his brothers-in-law Jim and John Harbaugh to fill in the knowledge gaps, I suppose. And he is intense. I can't imagine how much Diet Coke he would put away in a week if he were doubling up on his coaching duties. Still, it is worthwhile to note that at this time last summer, Tom Crean had an 8-46 Big Ten record and Purdue fans were roundly mocking IU fans for thinking Cody Zeller could be a transformative recruit and that Crean actually could coach a little bit. Fortunes can change quickly, so I'm still hoping for a significant move by Wilson's program in year 2.
With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, Indiana is certainly one of the top four teams in contention for the Leaders Division title. Is there any hope?
I'll be happy if IU improves significantly, but currently my wildest dreams involve a late December trip to Detroit. I can't imagine a scenario in which IU ends up ahead of Wisconsin in the division standings. Purdue, on the other hand, is worth watching, much as it pains me to admit.
Between former Northwestern OC Kevin Wilson and NU's most recent WR's coach in Kevin Johns, the Hoosiers have two former NU coaches on staff, and last year, featured former NU running back Noah Herron as a graduate assistant coach. You guys know poaching from Northwestern isn't a blueprint for success, right?
It may not be a blueprint for success, but it is a blueprint for "success." As I mentioned above, Northwestern is one game over .500 in the last 17 seasons. I would take that for IU's next 17 years, no questions asked. While I would love to make an Oregon-type transformation, being good enough to make nearly every season interesting would be a good step.
THE ONE QUESTION ABOUT FOOTBALL: The Hoosiers went 0-11 last year against FBS competition. (Sorry for cherry-picking that stat.) Do you guys get better this year, and if so, how? How do you think the Hoosiers will fare against Northwestern?
How can IU get better? Well, first of all, the 1-11 record included losses to Ball State and North Texas (and also to a Virginia team that turned out to be pretty good), so avoiding those sorts of losses would improve the record without any real improvement overall. I like what IU has at the offensive skill positions (QB Tre Roberson, WR Kofi Hughes and Duwyce Wilson, RB Stephen Houston, TE Ted Bolser). The line is always an issue, but I do think IU should be able to score some points. On defense, IU saw some promising play from some young guys, most notably DB Mark Murphy, but IU also added six juco defensive players. I think IU will be an offensive oriented team, but for IU to improve the defense will have to make some strides from last year, when they were the worst unit in the country. As for the Northwestern game, every IU-NU game since 2002 with the exception of last year's has been decided in the final minute or overtime. On paper, that shouldn't happen this year (IU is a 14 point dog as of a month or so ago), but there is a fair chance that we will compete. Unfortunately, the most beatable teams on IU's Big Ten schedule (NU, Illinois, Purdue) all host the Hoosiers. IU's win at Purdue in 2010 is the Hoosiers' only Big Ten road win since 2007, but making an improbable run at the postseason probably will require multiple road wins. Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.