While I am still a little hung over from the basketball season, I feel that the best medicine will be to move on to the football season. Unfortunately for football they have been getting somewhat neglected around here. Probably not fair to them and their circumstance last year, but you’ll forgive me if I struggle to muster the excitement for a 1-11 football team that I could muster for a Sweet 16 basketball team.
This summer will probably see no Gunner Kiels or first year coaches saying the right thing to get the base excited. This summer will be all about acquiring results in the fall. Indiana fans gave their readily gave into the commotion of last summer to get excited for the football season and Indiana threw it back in their faces with a catastrophic season. The 2012 season probably isn’t going to be drastically improved either. The bright side though, it will be improved. I wouldn’t hold out excitement for a basketball type leap this season. Indiana won’t be the most improved team in the nation. The football team will still have its days where you just shake your head, but like 2 years ago in basketball it is going to get better.
All of this brings me to my point of the day. Hold the team to high standards, but don’t hold them to high expectations. This may sound odd coming off a 1 win season, but I trust Coach Kevin Wilson. Last year was pretty comparable to what Coach Crean had to endure in year one with the basketball program. The team was depleted and played mostly inexperienced underclassmen who had no right being major contributors at a B1G level from day one.
Like the basketball squad, the inefficiencies were self-imposed. Basketball through sanctions, football through a hard-nosed team first coach coming into a relaxed players first mentality program. Bill Lynch was great. He was a super nice man, but that was his downfall and in the end it was also the downfall of last year’s team. Double digit major contributors and upperclassmen opted to not play football or transfer rather than face the in your face demeanor of Kevin Wilson. That essentially caused a program reboot. Wilson now has to bring in his own recruits to make things tick properly. That means a few years of grinning our teeth and bearing it as fans.
Luckily for Wilson and the football program the cover isn’t bare. Young players like Trey Roberson, Cody Lattimer, Greg Heban, Mike Replogle, Ted Bolser and more are there to aid in the transition. One win was an anomaly last year. Constant uncertainty killed any momentum the team could build. This season will be different. I’m not saying this will be an even mildly successful 5-6 win season in the national spectrum, but 3-4 wins should be a goal. We’re coming into the season with an established starting QB in Tre Roberson and we’ve certainly seen flashes of what he can do. The defense, though terrible last year had nearly all underclassmen starting the entire year. Those guys will return this season, bigger and smarter than the previous. Things should and will get better.
So strap in everybody. This season is going to be a roller coaster. There is still a lot of youth taking the field and inconsistency will likely be the name of the game. We’ll see flashes of brilliance from the skill players, followed by a week of them not showing up. It won’t be because they are putting forth the effort, they’re just going to be overwhelmed at times. Fortunately for the players and the fans, we can take comfort in knowing that Kevin Wilson has the pedigree and experience to right this sinking ship. Like we did with Tom Crean give it some time and trust Coach Wilson.