I know, I know. It’s been awhile since my last contribution.
Well, let me re-introduce myself. I’ve been described as a ‘would-be ladies man,’ a Rick Moranis clone and a hopeless romantic (I still think the Cubs have a shot).
Oh yeah, and I’m an Indiana University football fan. Yeah, that’s right. I’m the one.
And you might have heard (but most likely hadn’t because well, we’re Indiana), but the Hoosiers fired their football coach Bill Lynch Monday after another sputtering season.
See most people probably didn’t even think IU had a football team. But we can thank Wisconsin for reminding everybody that we do indeed pay for helmets and pads – 83 points later, money well spent.
And that brings us to money. The outgoing Lynch made a paltry $650,000 last year. Sure sounds good to you and me, but it was by far the lowest in the conference, in fact a number of coordinators made off better than Lynch. And IU got what it paid for. Three Big Ten wins in the last three years.
So relatively new athletics director Fred Glass came out on Monday declaring this new coach will not be low-balled. That this coach will be paid, and paid well. That’s encouraging. And apparently there is money to be spent considering the latest renovations to Memorial Stadium and increased attendance.
So who is out there to splash some cash at? Names such as Houston Nutt, Jim Leavitt and Brady Hoke have been tossed around. Hoke makes sense. He coached successfully at nearby Ball State and has strong Midwest ties. But he’s got a pretty cush gig at San Diego State, and is also in consideration for the Minnesota opening. IU could go the coordinator route and nab Michigan State’s Don Treadwell, who did an admirable job filling in for Mike D’Antonio after his heart attack. A name gaining some traction is young Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell. But something tells me Glass wants to make his signature hire a big splash.
And none would be bigger than Jon Gruden.
Oh I know, you think I’m retarded. And I might have a chromosome or two tangled, but at least the call has to be made. See, Gruden and Indiana have history. And I’m not talking about the fact little Chuckie was born in South Bend.
Gruden’s dad, Jim, was an assistant at Indiana in the 1970s. And Jon did what any kid in Bloomington would do – he begged to be a ball boy for Bob Knight’s national powerhouse Hoosiers. Gruden and Knight’s son, Tim, were the ball boys for the 1975-76 national champions. True story.
From the Tampa Tribune, a few years ago:
“Scotty May, Bobby Wilkerson, Quinn Buckner, Kent Benson … I even remember the backups,” Gruden said, beaming. “We won almost every game by 25 or 30 points. We didn’t back down from anybody.”
Ah, gotta love the ‘We.’
Gruden’s name has been tossed around a lot with some marquee openings, such as the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Miami. He says he’s happy doing “Monday Night Football,” and I’m sure he is. It’s a lot less stressful. But Gruden is a coach. Watch the broadcasts and listen to him predict plays. The man has to watch the most tape out of any broadcaster. He’s a coach. And needs to be coaching.
I know Indiana isn’t glamorous. But it’s not the crap job it has been for the past 30 years. The school has made a real commitment to football, which had been neglected for far too long. The stadium has been spruced up and the football team calls the nation’s largest strength and conditioning center home. And the new football offices are gorgeous. Those things matter. Now, I know IU is arguably the worst program in BCS history, so it’ll definitely be a challenge (especially with Big Ten realignment), and I know it’s a pipe dream.
But if you’re Glass, go big or go home. Go get me Jon Gruden.