As had been rumored over the weekend, IU has signed Bill Lynch to a long-term contract to serve as coach through the 2011 season. Here's the IU press release (yes, it says through 2012, but the contract expires on July 1, 2012, so essentially its a four season deal). As I have documented before, this isn't a slam dunk. Lynch's previous record as head coach is mixed. Still, he did a solid job this year and can go forward and make this his program, his staff, and so forth. This deal certainly eliminates some near-term heartburn of a coaching search during bowl preparation and the alienation of many prominent football program alumni. As for the long term, who knows?
If you read the whole release, this item might grab your attention:
"Appointing Bill Lynch is a very positive step for Indiana University," Floyd Keith, Black Coaches and Administrators Executive Director, said. "With the difficult circumstances that have transpired at IU in the past year, Bill performed in a very positive and professional way. I don't think there was any other decision that could have been made. He'll be just super - Indiana has made a sound, smart and logical choice in selecting Bill Lynch."
If you are wondering why, exactly, the BCA director is endorsing the hiring of a white guy who got fired by Ball State, consider that Keith worked with Bill Mallory as an IU assistant (Keith was quarterbacks coach, if I recall correctly), although it doesn't appear that the two worked together. This certainly is consistent with the theme emerging: everyone who knows Lynch well or has worked with him seems to think the world of the guy. There was an interesting letter to the editor in yesterday's Indianapolis Star from longtime Ball State tennis coach Bill Richards, who gives a glowing endorsement of Lynch's character and says this about the Ball State job at the time:
He did a good job at Ball State with one arm tied behind his back. Our stadium was arguably the worst in Division I-A; he had restrictions on how many out-of-state players he could recruit; extreme restrictions on salary dollars and recruiting dollars, and was generally given three or four losses a year to the Floridas, Clemsons and Auburns for big paydays. Our program hit the bottom. How he handled the adversity is something I respect so much I really can't put it in words.
The program rebounded with a divisional championship and a 6-6 record in his last two years. He had it moving back in the right direction. Even though I am a few years older, he taught me so much. I am thankful and proud to have been able to be associated with him for several years. It will be a real shame if he isn't given the (IU) job on a permanent basis.
I would love to know more about the information in bold. In any event, congratulations, Coach Lynch. As it stands today, you are the first IU coach since Bo McMillin (1934-1947) with a career winning record at IU. You get a head coaching job without suffering the transition costs normally associated with coaching changes. Make the best of it.
P.S. Is Michigan really going to hire Kirk Ferentz? Really?