With the assuring of the Kiel family that Indiana University is still in the running for the commitment of top rated QB Gunner Kiel, I got to thinking about IU football and its attractiveness to top talent. Now I would not say that Indiana could ever rival the big dogs in the SEC for the best players in the nation on a regular basis, but for a kid like Kiel choosing Indiana would make some sense. Now this is going to be a bit of a Kiel-centric article, but keep in mind that many of these reasons would apply across the board to many other football recruits making Indiana a part of their decision.
So, why Indiana? Indiana is years removed from actually being a competitive program and they have never been anything close to prestigious. Even on a lightning in a bottle, one year of awesomeness type scale of success, Indiana has never really reached that pinnacle. Why would any highly coveted recruit that has his pick of any school with National Championship dreams choose the Hoosiers, where the constant rebuilding state of the program has us several years away from any such visions of grandeur? Because it’s Indiana.
From the few interviews the number one rated QB prospect in the nation has done compared to many others in his position from previous years, you can tell the kid is quiet and prefers to shine the spotlight elsewhere. Indiana is the place to do that. Certainly he would come to campus as the most heralded football recruit to ever set foot in Bloomington, but he would also be competing for the campus spotlight with the likes of Cody Zeller and Yogi Ferrell. There is no mistaking that Indiana is a basketball school, but a competitive football team would also get a plethora of support. A player looking to get local recognition but to stay out of the national spotlight and scrutiny of the bigger schools would do well to choose IU.
Proximity is always a huge plus when selecting a college. This goes for all high schoolers selecting a college, not just athletes. If proximity to home is important to you, Indiana is a perfect school. You get the anonymity of a large student body but the close proximity to everything you’ve ever known. I know when I first chose Seton Hall (900 miles from home) it was because I was able to escape everything that I’d ever known. After two years there I realized how much I loved what I left and transferred back "home". Indiana offers the best of both worlds. A student can disappear into the large student body and redirect his life, but there is always the option to return to what you know.
The new coaching staff for IU football is also an attractive option. Kevin Wilson was an extremely successful offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, so you know the pro-style offense is going to be conducive not only to the offensive players making to look a splash, but also to the advancement to the NFL. There is no doubt that pro-style offenses produce more and better NFL QBs and skill players than the spread offenses that have overrun college football. Sure it is successful in college ball, but in the NFL when everyone is just as athletic as everyone else, the pro-style experience pays dividends. Wilson also is bringing in a whole staff looking to prove themselves on the national stage. You know you are going to get absolutely all the help from these football savvy individuals.
The final point on why an athlete should choose Indiana is family. Sure for Kiel he has big brother Dusty already on the depth chart, but for those without blood on the roster, Indiana is still a family. If there is one thing that the Hoosier fan base does well is it takes care of its own. Nothing shows that more than the unfortunate events surrounding Lauren Speier. Through all of the gloom of tragedy one ray of sunshine has shone through. If you are a Hoosier you are part of a family. The immediacy of support and aid that descended upon Bloomington shows that once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier. That same sentiment carries over into the less tragic realm of sports. The recent hiring of a Bob Knight guy in Calbert Cheaney, by a guy still stuck in Knight’s shadow (Crean), shows that at Indiana there are no regimes. There are only Hoosiers. Anyone choosing IU for any reason, whether it be athletic or scholastic, is stepping into a family where we take care of each other.
So why choose Indiana? Because it is home. Friends, family and familiarity are all a huge factor in any individual’s life. It is more so important for an athlete who will be not only attending school like everyone else but will have the added pressure of scrutiny in everything they do in their hobby. Coach Wilson and staff also have the added motivation of proving something to themselves and the nation immediately, which means Indiana football will stop at nothing to become the annual competitor that it should have always been.