Despite disappointing seasons, Kevin Wilson and Darrell Hazell should continue to lead Indiana and Purdue Football

by Kent Sterling

Kevin Wilson and Darrell Hazell may not make the wildest dreams of fans come true, but both are good enough to deserve another year.

Kevin Wilson and Darrell Hazell may not make the wildest dreams of fans come true, but both are good enough to deserve another year.

With change at the top, you know what happens – a guaranteed additional two years of rebuild-driven wretchedness.  The football programs at Indiana and Purdue have seen that misery up close for more than 30 years, minus the Bill Mallory and Joe Tiller eras in Bloomington and West Lafayette.

As athletic directors Fred Glass and Morgan Burke evaluate the teams that need to drive athletic cash flow and interest in the universities among boosters and alums, the coaches should be safe for at least one more year – not because success is guaranteed with the retention of the two coaches, but because failure is all but assured with change.

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The litany of IU coaches who have failed to generate interest and success includes Mallory over his last four years, Cam Cameron, Gerry DiNardo, and Bill Lynch.  Terry Hoeppner can’t be included because his death due to an especially virulent brain tumor ended what appeared to be the kind of evolution toward excellence (or at least legitimate mediocrity) that the Hoosiers have long sought.

At Purdue, the trail of tears has not been nearly as long since Tiller left after the 2008 season.  But the time after Jim Young won and prior to Tiller rejuvenating the Boilers included some dark seasons led by the likes of Leon Burtnett, Fred Akers, and Jim Colletto.

Firing coaches to replace them with other mediocre coaches is a brutal technique for building success, and so neither Glass nor Burke will follow that well-trod path.  The rebuild in Bloomington will continue for a fifth year under Kevin Wilson and a third year under Darrell Hazell.  And it should.

Both programs have inched forward, and Indiana’s woes this season were at least in part due to the left shoulder injury of starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld.  Some want to blame Wilson for the dearth of reasonable backups at that position because both Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson transferred after last season when it became clear that Sudfeld would be the quarterback for 2014.

My assumption is that Wilson told both Roberson and Coffman that there would be no open competition at quarterback – that Sudfeld had earned the starting spot and would be the leader in 2014 and beyond.  That transparent communication gave both young men the information they needed to make an informed decision, and that is what solid leaders provide those who follow them.

Would it have been nice to have either Coffman or Roberson around when Sudfeld was helped off the field with a season-ending injury?  Sure, but college students deserve better than a lie to keep them around just in case.

Will Indiana or Purdue ever be a routine competitor for a spot in the Big Ten Championship?  Of course not.  What has never happened is unlikely to start, regardless of the coach.  Occasional trips to bowls would be a sweet return on investment.  Expectations of success beyond that are just silly.  I want to earn millions of dollars, but because to this point I have not, the likelihood is reduced to near zero that it will ever happen.

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Indiana and Purdue would quickly lose a coach so superb that he could get either program over the nearly insurmountable hump of a conference championship.  He would jump to even a mediocre job the SEC the second greatness was displayed.

The best possible result for either program would be to hire the coach that best embodies the decency and leadership needed to help the players trusted to his care make a successful leap from adolescence to manhood.  Fans should hope for onfield quality, and demand great people graduating.

Both Wilson and Hazell appear to be capable of leadership that can provide competitive football and a positive example for their players.

That’s enough for another year.

5 thoughts on “Despite disappointing seasons, Kevin Wilson and Darrell Hazell should continue to lead Indiana and Purdue Football

  1. Jeff Gregory

    I agree with the the thesis that Wilson should go another year. It is possible that the Sudfeld injury bought Wilson next year. It kind of reminds me of the “free play” an offense gets when the defense obviously jumped off sides. Might as well throw the ball down field, if it gets picked off or falls incomplete, at least you get a mulligan. I think that is what happened when Sudfeld went down. Perhaps they can surprise with Diamont. If not, they always have 2015 with Sudfeld.

    Was Sudfeld eligible for the redshirt?

    As far as Roberson and Coffman – As a coach, I would NEVER tell my players that there will be no competition. That is just stupid. You discourage and run off talent, plus you paint yourself in a corner if “your guy” struggles or doesn’t pan out. I am not saying lie to your players, but I don’t think ANYONE deserves a free pass. There should always be competition (perhaps not intense day to day, or week to week competition, but no free passes). Concrete position security sends the wrong message to everyone.

  2. j

    assumptions are assumptions. what if Wilson said its just like last year. he who plays the best plays the most. I think cam knew he was outclassed, though hats off to cam Coffman who led the big ten in passing his first year following a transfer from a juco. thank you cam Coffman. Coffman makes an early and convenient exit. Wilson may very well have said to tre we are going to start nate but you will see playing time and maybe a lot of it. in this assumed situation its virtually the same situation as last year. tre isn’t happy with a little playing time and wants to be the star. so he transfers very late in the process and leaves iu exposed. either way I think its safe to assume Wilson did not lie to his players. its easy to look back at an 8 and 4 season and say I wish he would have done something different. like what? lie? imagine you are the kid that gets lied to. or the parent of a child that gets lied to. maybe somebody wasn’t making grades. maybe they had things going in their personal life that forced them into this untimely transfer. nobody knows but a few people involved and they are the only people that need to know. I place great value on a coach that doesn’t lie to his players. but don’t throw me in with that group that thinks the primary purpose of a coach is to better the kids and teach them how to be men. a coach is a coach. Wilson is not a life coach or an academic coach. he is a football coach. that’s why he makes 1.7 million a year (lowest in the big ten for a football coach). academic advisors don’t make millions. tutors don’t make millions. football coaches do. if by his actions kevin Wilson demonstrates quality of character ie not lying, then I give hime a positive mark for that. but ultimately a football coach is graded by wins and losses. so lets forget any arguments about teaching these kids to become men. the world does that. it is not the responsibility of the coach to do that. yes there are minimum gpa’s and kids cant be in trouble. if they are yes the coach must discipline. again, these guys don’t make millions of dollars to tutor discipline or otherwise impact the personal lives of players. if by chance they are presented with a situation that allows them to demonstrate quality of character and lead by example then we should expect coaches to exhibit hosnesty and integrity. whatever “assumptions” anyone has made about the qb transfers should indicate, based on the resulting transfers, that kevin Wilson was honest with his players.

    I don’t think people realize how bad things were when bill lynch left Bloomington. generally regarded as a “good guy,” lynch was mediocre at best in the mac and I may be wrong but I believe he posted a career losing record in the mac. don’t hold me to that. in many ways the hiring of lynch was a great deal like the hiring of mike davis. the players insisted on it. lynch carried the momentum of terry hoeppner to a bowl game…and he got worse every year there after. in the end he left the program in almost shambles. his players were in trouble and they lacked talent. they had attitude problems. when kevin Wilson came to iu he inherited a train wreck. the next season iu played a ton of freshman as many upper classmen either quit or simply didn’t play as a result of poor practice work ethics. it was a dismal 1 and 11 season. defense sucked. the next year Indiana goes 4 and 8. the oline plays like champions as guys like sprigs and feeney make pass blocking look easy. defnse gets worse. year three the offense is on fire. veteran receiving corps tevin coleman and steven Houston running as competently as iu has run in years. seth litrell ladies and gentleman. defense is still worse. Wilson fires Mallory. this is wilsons foremost mistake at iu. he waited to long to fire Mallory. he should have done it a season earlier. had he done it after year 2 any improvement in defense would have resulted in a bowl game. this year we have an infant receiving corps. a solid yet underperforming oline and one of the best running attacks in all of college football. our defense is markedly more…..capable. we should have beaten bowling green no doubt about that. but think about it: what if sudfeld didn’t get hurt? inconsistent yes but good enough to win 6 games. we played penn state and Rutgers very close. and iowa. with a healthy sudfeld I think we beat two of those teams at least. Indiana did after all defeat the champion of the sec east, there. we took a step back this season either because of kevin Wilsons honesty or circumstances beyond his control. thou I expect recruiting to dip this year Wilson has brought in perhaps the best two recruiting classes in successive years in modern history. we are starting to see that show up on d. I believe that kevin johns is a significant step down from seth litrell as o coordinator. I give hime another year and I start shopping. 3 years was too long for Mallory and 3 years for johns might be one year too many for Wilson. I cant really give facts to support the johns claim. it was a totally different team this year than last. but something tells me seth litrell could have done more with zander diamond. not a lot more. but maybe enough to beat Rutgers and/or penn state. kevin Wilson is getting better talent. he is develoing them into real players. just look at them. they are bigger faster and stronger. at the very least kevin Wilson is building a solid foundation. it takes time to build a football program. it takes minutes to build a basketball team. it takes hours to build a football team. and continuity of coaching is exactly what the Indiana university football program needs. kevin Wilson stays and iu is better for it.

  3. wink96

    Have u watched Purdue play last two yrs keep Darrell around haaaaa says IU guy, oh and buy the way when Purdue has had the right guy we have recruited well but you’re comment about if either one of thease program go to the hig ten championship and the coach would bolt for a mid level sec job, so they can get fired in 2-3yrs. Oh buy the way Missouri has had gary pinkel for 17 yrs kinda of in the same boat as Purdue when he took over. And the last thing Purdue will never be confused with being osu Michigan etc but we do have some tradition to us what the hell does iu have, take that put it where the sun don’t shine u prick

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Now that’s a comment. Angry, quirky, passionate, and a little profane. You start your own website, and I’ll stop by and read what you have to share!

      1. wink96

        I think Purdue would shut it down after I got done lol. But there’s something to say about stability at the top, but Ken u have to admit Darrell hazzel is not a good head coach I don’t blame him he found a sucker (morgan burke) who buy the way wanted to hire bob davie over joe tiller let that sink in for a minute. And finally no hard feelings about the previous post


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