Indiana going bowling after third straight Bucket game win; Kevin Wilson will return

This is about the biggest smile I have seen on Kevin Wilson's face, but I'll bet his grin on the bus ride back to Bloomington is wide and toothy.

This is about the biggest smile I have seen on Kevin Wilson’s face, but I’ll bet his grin on the bus ride back to Bloomington is wide and toothy.

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass hasn’t said that football coach Kevin Wilson will return for a sixth season, but after securing bowl eligibility in West Lafayette this afternoon, it’s a certainty.

At the time I am writing this, no firm invitation has been issued by a bowl to Indiana, but that is a certainty as well.  Those paid to analyze such things project the Hoosiers as a great candidate for Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium or another bowl in Santa Clara sponsored by a company with which I am not familiar.  There is a possibility that IU could go to Detroit for a bowl there (please, God, no – not Detroit).

Wilson will return because the narrative of improvement can be made with a straight face after Indiana finished the regular season 6-6.  In fact, the narrative doesn’t even need to be advanced by Indiana’s athletic staff.  Going to a bowl is an obvious sign of growth even to passive fans, despite an 0-6 start to the conference season.

The only question is whether Wilson’s contract should be extended based upon Indiana earning its first trip to a bowl in nearly a decade (second in 20 years, but no need to mention that).  This is year five of a seven-year deal, and with two years left it might make sense to come to a decision on retaining Wilson beyond that window.

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After going 1-11 in his first season, Wilson’s Hoosiers have won 19 games in the last four seasons with another game to play.  Eight of those wins have come in Big Ten play.  It isn’t exactly championship level football, but there is reason for optimism.

Today’s win against Purdue bring the Hoosiers a third straight I link in the Old Oaken Bucket chain for the first time since 1947.  They have won consecutive Big Ten road games for the first time since 1993, and have won three road games against Power Five Conference teams for the first time since 1986.

Assuming he’s retained, Wilson with be the first Indiana coach to survive for a sixth season since Bill Mallory (1984-1996), and showing patience despite Wilson’s overall record of 24-40 and 8-32 mark in the Big Ten shows just how far Indiana has needed to come to reach mediocrity.

Indiana’s history is so besotted with losses, not only is it the all-time losingest program among 126 FBS programs, it ranks 15th in winning percentage among Big Ten teams – of which there are only 14!  (The University of Chicago is the extra team.  They were members of the Big Ten until leaving the conference after 1946.

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Whether Kevin Wilson is the answer for Indiana depends upon the question being asked.  He’s a good enough coach to have won the six required games to qualify for a bowl.  For those who want Indiana to be mentioned among Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin the the elite programs in the Big Ten, Wilson beating the two worst teams in the Big Ten to hit the magic number for bowl eligibility is a baby step on a long trip.

[This has nothing to do with Wilson or the success of the Hoosiers in 2015, but it is my fervent hope that Indiana plays a bowl game anywhere but Detroit.  I would like to enjoy this bowl game in person and I will not travel to Detroit for any reason.  I wandered the streets of downtown Detroit on a Saturday night in 2012 in a fruitless search for a sports bar.  There was one, but it was hosting a private party.  As a matter of principle, I will not spend time in a city without a sports bar.]

22 thoughts on “Indiana going bowling after third straight Bucket game win; Kevin Wilson will return

  1. Tony

    Your comments about Detroit are borderline ridiculous and destroy your credibility. Granted there are plenty of areas in Detroit I would not step foot into despite living 40 minutes away… I am also a non drinker and non bar goer…. However….in and around Ford Field there are PLENTY of places to get a drink and if you want a straight up sports bar …Nemos? Hockeytown Café? Cheli’s Chili Bar? (owned by Chris Chelios) ? These are all safe and well attended establishments in Detroit….to name a few. Since I would like to see Indiana play, I would LOVE to see them come here… Yankees Stadium? No thank you. Talk about unsafe!

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Yankee Stadium is plenty safe, and the 4 train drops you at the gate. As for Detroit sports bars, Hockeytown had the private party, and the rest were closed on a Saturday night. Had ten guys with the St. Louis Rams Radio Network with me if you would like to hear more well-earned vitriol. We walked through downtown, asking people where we could watch college football and get a beer. Exhausted, we finally went to a casino west of downtown where the service was indifferent, and finally walked to some spot in Greektown with a 20-inch TV above the bar.

      Not going to a bowl in Detroit, and never again visiting the city for any reason. The United States should cede it to Canada.

  2. Cary Hanni

    All you people are assuming Wilson will be back. I am worried that he will be offered a big-tme job and leave. He is a helluva coach.

  3. Cary Hanni

    I will go to a bowl regardless of where it is. Any true IU fan should buy a bowl ticket regardless of their plans to go. When Mallory was coaching our biggest problem with getting a good bowl was that our fans did not travel and supported so poorly. Please, at least, buy a ticket so this will not enter into the situation as we get better.

  4. Mark Thrice

    I am terribly cornfuzzled. Explain it again to me, please. IU is going to post-season with a football bowl game. And the basketball team has 4 & 5-star players. But, they aren’t doing well, again. And the basketball coach is virtually guaranteed to return next year because of his unusually high ($7.5 million) buyout. And let me get this right, Coach Wilson is paid what amounts to the 13th highest football coach salary in the B1G ($1.2 million).
    And IU just beat Purdue for the 3rd straight time!!! And Tom Crean’s teams’ AAU style of playing is strikingly different than that understood by millions of high school fans in Indiana.

    And you folks are arguing about whether it is appropriate for Kent to boycott Detroit for personal reasons?!?!


    Too bad IU lost to Rutgers this year in football. And too bad that IU’s basketball team is so deficient in valuing the ball and defense. And too bad that Glass, whom I do think highly of, put that unfortunate contract extension buyout in Crean’s contract.

    I like the way the football team keeps playing, even when down. That is a huge difference I see. If IU can recruit some defensive cornerbacks and take advantage of field position, then the team can break into the top level of the B1G. Extend Wilson’s contract is my recommendation. And pull the plug on Tom Crean as soon as we can afford to…with a decent coach in the wings. Check out Archie Miller. His teams play together and are better than the parts.

  5. coachv

    i believe crean’s buy out drops to $4m on july 1. good riddance then. hopefully stevens grew up a iu fan and comes home to his dream job. it’s happened before.

    as far as wilson, i think a 2 year extension and a little salary bump is appropriate. that will take care of recruiting and if the bottom drops out in the next two years he can be fired with little financial repercussion. if he has a better year next year we can always back up the brinks truck to his doorstep but he will probably move on anyway. i think he is doing a fine job, save the strange decision not to have a returner on a apunt downed at the one foot line.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      it was a strange decision, but the resulting 99-yard TD drive would have been impossible if not for that choice.

    2. Chet

      Are you a troll coachv? I think you’re very uneducated and hope you left the scoop for good. Those parents of yours must be really stupid. Being you’re in San Fran, I’m not surprised. Glad your out of Indiana.

  6. matterhorn

    Is it just me or can you tell a major difference in body language with the football players versus the basketball players. There is respect for Wilson. Discipline works, being a hard ass works, not being PC works, admitting mistakes works, not making excuses works. Wilson knows football unlike Harold Hill over at Assembly Hall selling us all a bottle of basketball elixir that promises to taste better as he gets more experienced players and has more time to work his sorcery and magic. If Glass hired Wilson on his own Kudos to him, he seemed to get that right, too bad he waited so long with loser Bill Lynch in the process. BTW I think Lynch has lost like 3 monon bells in a row, lol.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      In Fred’s defense, the first two years Lynch was at IU, Greenspan was the AD. Fred gave Lynch two seasons to show himself, and then he acted. He was 4-8 and 5-7 in those two seasons – not terrible by Indiana standards. Lynch made a case after 2009 that the team was only 12 plays away from a major bowl berth. Without further examination, that seemed plausible. But when you account for every one possession game being decided by a singe play by definition, the bloom exploded from the rose.

      1. matterhorn

        Yea keep in mind the big ten sucked in 2009 how would old Lynch have done against #1 Ohio State, #4 Iowa, #5 Michigan State and #18 Michigan……………………….I mean Michigan was awful under Brady Hoke.

  7. coachv

    i just love when someone, especially the head coach, says we were just x number of plays from a great season. goes both ways. lynch’s team was also 12 plays away from a one win season. just like this year’s team could easily be 3-9. don’t forget the dropped pass on the 2 point conversion to, who was it, siu? wide open, pass on the money. just a choke job by a 20 year old kid. he catches it and everyone is having a different conversation. like, is wilson going to be fired today or tomorrow?

  8. Joel

    The media/fans or whoever make it sound like the season is a success when you go to a bowl game at 6-6 having just two big 10 win(miserable Purdue)s and then beating up on the sisters of the poor. The only reason they are going because the whole bowl scene is watered down/to many. Is it really that significant that they go to the Sheridan Reynolds Farm Equipment Bowl to play against some directional school from Montana? Wow…..

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      It’s more likely Indiana goes to Yankee Stadium to play Louisville, but I get your point. I don’t think the reason for celebration is nearly as important as the quality of the celebration. There are no bad reasons for a big party, and Indiana finally returning to a bowl is a pretty good one.

      What about the teams who will go bowling with a 5-7 record. Even Indiana can look down its nose at Illinois and Minnesota. That’s another reason to celebrate!

      1. Joel

        Being a middling/ to subpar team each year and earning a trip to a bowl that no one cares about is no reason to celebrate mediocrity and with no upward progress in the program. I guess to homer IU fans , if that’s the standard and expectation, oh well…

    2. matterhorn

      Joel I agree 6-6 isn’t all that great, but if you look at the big picture, the program is very competitive and the overall quality of players has exponentially gotten better with Wilson. IU hung with the best teams in the country not just the big ten but the nation and that includes the SEC.


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