Like when Ben Affleck watches his movies, he knows it’s shit. Right? I mean, you’d have to.
Well, as an Indiana University graduate I know my alma mater’s football team blows. Everyone knows. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd ranked IU No. 97 among the 120 Division I programs over the last decade. And to be honest, 97th might be generous.
But there are still some Hoosiers apologists. There are still fans on message boards certain that this is the year Indiana’s football team matters. It’s crazy, I know. But they’re there. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
What do I have to say to those eternal optimists – or simply put – the blind?
IU football is a joke. An absolute and utter joke.
How can I, a former four-year student season ticket holder, be so resigned to our fate? Did I mention I was a four-year season ticket holder? Well if firsthand knowledge wasn’t enough, the latest ploy to get fans into Memorial Stadium hammered it home to even the most misguided believers.
Tickets will be priced for students at $5. That offer extends to students from opposing teams as well. Did you hear that Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan fans? Notice I didn’t tell Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin or Purdue fans. They already know. Big Ten rivals have long since penetrated the IU student section.
At least the Hoosiers’ PR arm has two chances to get a picture of the stadium filled with red-clad fans (Ohio State and Wisconsin) for the cover of next year’s media guide.
As a former student, I can tell you the Hoosiers’ student section is often flooded with the likes of Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois fans whenever those teams come to town. But half the time when you talk to these kids, you find out they actually go to IU.
It might be refreshing to see kids from the actual school infiltrate.
Each year around campus there was a slight buzz people were going to the games. Just good luck finding one. At Indiana, football is like that girl in high school most accused of sleeping with her entire class. But when it came down to it, she really was just hooking up with the same three or four dudes.
At IU, the tailgate is entertainment attraction No. 1. And who can blame the students? Your team is a laughing stock. A Big Ten team loaded with Mid-American Conference recruits. Going into the stadium is an exercise of self-hatred.
Now, yes there was that bowl season two years ago. But I hardly classify getting blown out by Oklahoma State in the Insight.com Bowl progress (even though it is rather groundbreaking progress). Terry Hoeppner’s death was tragic for the obvious reasons, but it was especially rough for a program that seemed on the cusp. He was inspirational, charismatic and a darn good football coach. Had he been 15 years younger, he would have been a prime candidate for any job in the country. Bill Lynch took over in the interim and guided Hoeppner’s team to a bowl appearance in 2006. The school couldn’t replace Lynch. He had done something that hadn’t been done in Bloomington since 1993.
Predictably, the Hoosiers took a step backward last season – another year removed from Hoeppner. Bill Lynch isn’t Terry Hoeppner. Lynch is like the father you don’t want to disappoint. Hoeppner was the mentor you’d mirror and follow as if enchanted.
In Hoeppner’s short tenure, he managed to generate an excitement for football. He set the wheels in motion for new facilities the school so desperately needed. This fall, IU opens its new North End Zone facility as part of sparkling renovations made to Memorial Stadium. And it’s paying off in recruiting as IU has picked up 20 commitments for 2010 already.
But the new weight room and offices are disguised beneath more Memorial Stadium seats, bringing the stadium’s seating capacity to 52,692. That’s a problem when you average 31,782 a game. In a conference with six of the top 22 schools in game attendance, it makes sense to open the gates to outsiders.
Just don’t complain if it sounds like a road game.