by Kent Sterling
Over the first three years of the Kevin Wilson era, Indiana’s football team has earned a 10-26 record, but the arrow is pointing in the right direction because Wilson displays the traits of a very effective leader.
Changing an almost relentless pattern of mediocrity at best doesn’t happen in a year or two. It takes time and the steady hand of a leader who knows when to ask for dedicated work, not just from his players and staff, but from himself.
That’s why I like Wilson – he publicly demands a great deal from himself and openly admits to taking an inventory of his own work and processes. It’s surprisingly rare in business and even more unusual in athletic leadership for a manager to look in the mirror to find methods of improving methods and results.
Insecurity generally causes poor decisions and worse results, and in no business is insecurity as common as in collegiate athletic coaching. At many schools, coaches are hired and fired by boobs running the asylum or committees named by even weaker lunkheads. When a coaching prospect hears the words “blue ribbon panel” they should run from the job like its at the University of Hell, but that’s the subject of a whole different post.
At Indiana, the AD is a strong and confident leader who expresses faith in his people and provides them the tools to lead to their potential. Wilson reflects that confidence, and the culture is taking hold.
Yeah, they were 5-7 this season, and the schedule next year isn’t easy, but in year four, I expect to see a significant forward jump. When players and coaches aren’t allowed to remain on the same path that caused a failure, change can occur. Abandoning dogma is a challenge for coaches, but Wilson sounds like a guy strong enough to admit and address areas of weakness.
Listen to the interview from today’s “Ahead of the Curve” on 1070 the Fan, and tell me you don’t hear confident self-assessment in Wilson. No whining, no excuses, just “hey, we gotta get better.”
Also, listen to hear Wilson discuss his staff as it is currently constituted and get his thoughts on whether receiver Cody Latimer is going pro – and what should drive that decision.
A pretty grizzled veteran of the collegiate football coaching-recruiting wars, Wilson seems to have a certain amount of ‘grit’. That doesn’t always indicate success. I wonder about his authority? If he was really in control, D-coordinator and assistant coach D. Mallory would be out, replaced by someone that could-would deliver at least an average defense, say in the top 70–not at the bottom!
Wilson is really in control. His boss is smart enough to know what he doesn’t know and to let the coaches coach.