Indiana Football – Kevin Wilson Calls Out Indiana Fans While Explaining Choice to Play Indiana State on a Thursday

by Kent Sterling

Kevin Wilson is still smarting over the crowd a year ago for the Indiana State game.

Kevin Wilson is still smarting over the crowd a year ago for the Indiana State game.

Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson spent roughly 98% of his energy during a meeting with the media honestly assessing his players.  The rare exception was in ripping fans who chose not to show up for the game last year against Wisconsin in a game that might have sent IU to the Big Ten Championship game.

The barb came during an explanation about why Indiana chose to open this season against the Sycamores on a Thursday.  It has a lot more to do with prep time for the option attack of the Navy Midshipman than an effort to fill Memorial Stadium.

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It would seem silly to need to remind Wilson that building equity with a fan base used to entrenched mediocrity – and mediocrity is the kindest work for it – will take a lot of time and solid play.  Indiana lost to Wisconsin 62-14 in the game Wilson wanted a filled stadium.

Wilson and his staff should personally thank the 24,000 who did show up than rip the 28,000 who had something better to do last November.

Believing in Wilson’s ability to build a program Hoosier fans can be proud of is quite a leap of faith after the track record of Cam Cameron, Gerry DiNardo, Terry Hoeppner, and Bill Lynch, requires a leap of faith that more than 24,000 people haven’t been able to muster quite yet.

It seems Wilson is on the right track as the level of recruits continues to improve, but indulging in a dig against fans who are waiting to see improvement is a little impudent at this phase of the game.  If Wilson feels a lack of support, he shouldn’t take it personally.  No coach since the late Bo McMillan has left Indiana without a losing record, and he’s been gone since 1947.

Building trust is going to take time and a level of play not seen at Memorial Stadium in more than 20 years.  The next time Wilson sees empty seats and feels anger toward those not occupying them, he should take a deep breath and understand just where it is he coaches. Filling them is going to take better than a close game against Indiana State after a one-win season.

Here are Wilson’s comments, which are mostly a message of respect toward Navy.

“This is Indiana” means different things depending upon the sport being played by student-athletes in Bloomington.  Last November 10th, what it meant drew 24,000 to Memorial Stadium.  Wilson’s job is to change that, not whine about it.

(ed. note – The post was edited to reflect that Wilson was talking about the game last year against Wisconsin, not Indiana State when he complained about the 24,000 in the stands, not the 2012 opener against Indiana State.)

18 thoughts on “Indiana Football – Kevin Wilson Calls Out Indiana Fans While Explaining Choice to Play Indiana State on a Thursday

  1. Dan sStewart

    Coach Wilson, as a long time season ticket holder who attends all of your football games with one of the most avid IU Football Fans in America I am offended by your comment about the fans that did not showed up. I know you have been working very hard to put a better product on the field. Criticism of the IU Nation is not acceptable to me. I will be there with my family because we will support your student athletes in any way we can. More PR on your part is needed not negativism. See you on the 29th Go Hoosiers

    Reply
  2. Matthew

    I think Coach Wilson just wants his team to have as much support as possible. The kids are working hard and significant improvement from last year is expected. Hopefully the improvement continues to grow. I can see where some fans think he is ‘calling out’ Hoosier Nation. Although I don’t thing he intended to piss some fans off.

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    1. kentsterling Post author

      Support at Indiana requires excellence – or at least a chance at a bowl. Insulting the support fans have given the team after more than a century of poor to mediocre play (interrupted by brief outlier seasons and one brief six year run of good). 1-11 and 4-8 won’t reinvigorate Indiana fans.

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  3. Jimbo

    You realize he wasn’t talking about the ISU game with the attendance comment, right? He was referring to the Wisconsin game, where we actually had a shot at the Rose Bowl, and there were 15,000 empty seats. His point is that even when we have some momentum, IU fans still abandon the team.

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      That’s not abandonment, it reflected an acceptance that past in prologue. Just as a team is what it’s record says it is, fan interest is what the empty seats say it is. The Brickyard 400 has a tough time attracting 100,000 fans to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because the race is not enjoyable to watch live. Indiana fans didn’t buy that the team was ready last year. Hopefully, that’s different in 2013.

      Reply
  4. Jeff Gregory

    As a long-time IU fan, I have seen the “potential” before. It usually ends like it did last year. I don’t live in the Bloomington area, so it is a road trip for me. I still make it to a couple of games.

    The fans watched with hope the past couple of seasons of the Wilson-led IU team. They have been disappointed thus far (even knowing it takes time to change a program). If he wants the fans and the program to develop MUTUAL respect, he will give them a ticket price break for the pre-B10 season. If the program earns the fan support by the time the B10 season gets here, the fans will come back. If they still suck, then at least he didn’t brow beat the fans to come out and support yet another year of bad product. I don’t know how much authority he has in that area, but that would be the way to do it rather than ripping the fans who have suffered through IU football A LOT longer than he has.

    Reply
    1. Jimbo

      Tickets ARE cheaper for the pre-conference games (by like $10). And even the conference game prices are the cheapest in the Big Ten.

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  5. Heavy D

    Sterling doesn’t have a clue. Coach Wilson was referring to the Wisconsin game when IU controlled its own destiny and had a chance at the Rose Bowl. I don’t know how he thought Coach Wilson was talking about ISU?

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      Because he was asked about the Indiana State game being on a Thursday, and why that was. He responded that it sure wasn’t because of attendance, which I believed alluded to last year’s game. The reference was unclear. Jeff Keag sent an email to clarify the afternoon and a postscript was added to the post.

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      1. Heavy D

        Hey. My wife is the ugliest woman you’ve ever seen. People still attended our wedding! Support your team. Beautiful or ugly.

        Reply
  6. Gnaw Bone, Indiana

    What’s the big deal? He wasn’t criticizing Indiana fans for not showing up to a pre-Big Ten game like Indiana State…he was criticizing fans for not showing up for a huge game against Wisconsin with a potential Rose Bowl berth on the line. Frankly, the attendance was a joke for that game.

    I’ve been burned many times over the years as an IU football fan. Remember the Michigan game at Memorial Stadium a few years ago? The stadium was packed and the atmosphere was great. Indiana, of course, lost and the season spiraled out of control from there.

    I can’t imagine what Coach Hep would have said about the fan support at the Wisconsin game.

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  7. Hoosier Bob

    My brother played for IU ,our family has been part of the Bloomington business community for 60 years , so I don’t like your cheat shot.
    He wants people in stands just like Heb and every coach back to BO.

    Reply
  8. Jeff Showalter

    Wilson is best coach IU has had in decades so he can say what he wants and piss off who he wants, as long as he wins. Plus, the fact he correctly identifies Dakich as an ass makes him even more popular in my book….

    Reply
      1. Jeff Showalter

        The way Wilson is respected from people with Football Backgrounds. How the Texans and Patriots were at practice today. How IU had the 4th or 5th best recruiting class in the big ten and multiple 4 star players coming in. How he took a pile of crap, cleaned it up and has the program ready for a 7 or 8 win season in third year. How Wilson’s name is mentioned last winter when bigger jobs came up. That IU has the best set of QB’s and WR’s in the entire Big Ten…That’s off the top of my head.

        Reply

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