Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass made a strong statement today in support of football coach Bill Lynch, and said that "of course" Lynch will be back as IU's coach in 2010. The Indiana Daily Student's characterization of Glass's remarks is that "Lynch will remain in his position as head coach of the IU football program at least until his contract expires in two years," although the Indianapolis Star did not go that far, and the IDS does not directly quote Glass on that point. Of course, the direct quotes that are in the article are bad enough.
"He’s in the second year of a four-year contract (that expires after the 2011 season), and like I said last November, contracts need to mean something again at Indiana University."
He mentioned Sports Illustrated’s prediction that IU would win two games total this year and that he believes, but for a few plays, IU could be 6-2 this season. He also does not place the blame for the loss to Northwestern on Lynch.
"There’s been encouraging things and discouraging things," Glass said. "I reject suggestions that that was a loss related to the coaching staff. I don’t agree with that."
Ah, The Sports Illustrated defense. That one's straight out of the Mike Davis playbook ("what, they picked us to finish eighth because I'm such a lousy coach, and we made the NIT anyway. What's not to like?"). Sports Illustrated picked IU to finish 2-10 because very people outside of the IU athletic department offices believe that Bill Lynch has much chance to reverse IU's historic fortunes. SI isn't omiscient. How could SI know that Akron would be kind enough to remove its starting QB from the team the day before IU played them, or that Ron Zook and his blue-chippers would be entering November without a win over a I-A team?
Yes, we are a few plays away from being 6-2. We also are a couple of plays away from being 2-6. Only well-timed turnovers (both forced by the IU defense, but still fortuitous) prevented IU from losing at home to Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan. I can see how the historically awful 2008 season may have allowed Glass to forget this, but most teams with bad records don't get blown out in every game. Bad teams are often competitive but repeatedly fail to play complete games.
Finally, while I don't expect Glass to air dirty laundry, do the coaches really bear no responsibility for managing to blow a 28-3 lead despite the gift of three second-half interceptions?
This whole affair is frustrating because of the bait-and-switch nature of the Lynch era. When IU hired Lynch after the 2007 regular season, continuity was a primary rationale. Lynch would be able to continue the work of the Hoeppner staff, which had been in place since 2005. It is beyond dispute that in a conventional coaching search, IU never would have considered a coach with Bill Lynch's unimpressive resume. Now, after Lynch's first season as long-term coach yielded one of the worst seasons in school history, and two thirds of the way into what probably will be IU's 14th losing season in 15th years, we are counseled to be patient. Look, I'll be patient with a coach who is selected after a thoughtful, comprehensive search for the right coach to turn IU from a loser into a winner. But the only, only, only reason Lynch was hired was because of the percpeption that the program already was on that track. If Terry Hoeppner's successor was going to be given the standard five years, then IU should have conducted a standard search. Instead, IU made an emotional hire after an better-than-expected season and expects us to pretend that he was the best man for the job. He wasn't, he isn't, and were stuck with him for the long haul, it seems.
P.S. Fred Glass can't really be thinking about forcing Lynch to recruit as a near lame duck, with only two years left on his deal, can he? Surely he understands the modern landscape of college football better than that.