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Kevin Wilson and the Coaching Class of 2011, Revisited

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How does Indiana's football coach compare to his peers who started at the same time as him? Let's find out, and let's take a look at another school whose patience with its football program has paid off.

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As the Hoosiers struggle through the midst of what could be another disappointing football season, the pressure has continued to mount on IU head coach Kevin Wilson in his fourth season on the job. With starting QB Nate Sudfeld out for the season, the prospects of getting to a bowl game are looking slim for the Hoosiers once again. While Wilson hasn't had the same level of success as some of the other coaches who were hired around the same time as him, he certainly hasn't been an outright disaster either. After all, he still has a job.

In 2011, 24 FBS-level coaches were hired to new positions, including Kevin Wilson at Indiana. The coaching carousel during the 2010-11 offseason is nicely displayed here. Let's take a look at how these coaches and schools are doing four years later, and see if we can draw any conclusions to how Wilson is doing here.

One-Year Exceptions

These two schools lost their coaches late in the offseason and were forced to go with one-year interim coaches.

Ohio State: Jim Tressel's sudden resignation from OSU left the school in flux for a year, as they struggled to a 6-7 record under Luke Fickell. The worst-kept secret of that 2011 Ohio State season was that Urban Meyer would eventually take over, and that's exactly what ended up happening.

UNC: Butch Davis was dismissed during the summer, and after Everett Withers had a one-year interim stint, Larry Fedora took over. Fedora is on a bit of a hot seat right now, since his team's defense is about as bad as ours and the Tar Heels, who were ranked before the season started, now sit at 3-4. And as you may have heard yesterday, UNC released the results of an investigation about their academic scandal, and they are not very positive.

No longer at the school, fired

Colorado: The Buffaloes hired Jon Embree, who was in way over his head with the job and fired after two seasons. His replacement, Mike McIntyre, has also struggled, though not quite to the same extent.

UConn: The Paul Pasqualoni hire could not have come at a worse time for the Huskies. With UConn looking to get a power conference invite, the football program took a giant step back under Pasqualoni, and now the Huskies are stuck in the American, while most of its former Big East mates have left for greener pastures.

Miami-Ohio: Former MSU DC Don Treadwell took over for the Redhawks. After last season, he's no longer around either. Terry Hoeppner's former program has gone through some tough times recently.

No longer at the school, hired elsewhere

Arkansas State: Hugh Freeze kicked off a succession of three straight coaches who left Arkanasas State after only one year on the job. Freeze, Gus Malzahn, and Bryan Harsin are now at Ole Miss, Auburn, and Boise State respectively.

Kent State: Their post-2010 hire, Darrell Hazell, did well enough for himself that he's already moved onto Purdue.

Northern Illinois: Dave Doeren developed Jordan Lynch and got NIU to a BCS Bowl bid then promptly left for N.C. State, where he hasn't been as successful as he was in DeKalb.

Pitt: Todd Graham spent a year at Pitt then abruptly left for Arizona State because it was his dream job and his wife had family there. He told his players about this BY TEXTING THEM. Yet colleges repeatedly block the transfers of unpaid student-athletes. Arrrghhh. Anyways, after Todd Graham pulled a Robert Irsay on the Panthers, Paul Chryst has come into Pitt and brought some stability back to the program

Temple: Temple has become a stepping stone job for ACC schools. First Al Golden left for Miami after 2010 (we'll get to him later), and after two successful years, Steve Addazio headed for BC.

Vanderbilt: James Franklin was hired in the 2010-11 offseason and it was a home run for the Commodores. The effects of no longer having Franklin are showing themselves now, as Vandy has regained its place as an SEC bottom-feeder under new coach Derek Mason.

Still around, trending downward

Ball State: Pete Lembo led the Cardinals to 9-4 and 10-3 seasons in 2012 and 2013 but now Ball State sits at 2-5, including a loss to Indiana State. Lembo will likely get another season even if this one continues to go badly, but he also may not get the same type of consideration for other jobs that he'd be getting if the team was performing better.

Florida: Will Muschamp lol

Miami: Swick probably has more insight about this I do since he was at The U for the first three years of the Al Golden era. But while Golden seems to have cleaned up the mess at Miami from past coaches, he hasn't inspired a lot of confidence in the fanbase and attendance has become an issue (which I guess is predictable when you play in an NFL stadium that's a 45 minute drive away from Coral Gables). I think he will get another year, but when longtime Miami president Donna Shalala retires after this academic year, his status becomes much more in jeopardy.

Michigan: The Wolverines' record has gotten worse every year under Brady Hoke, not to mention he didn't take a concussed player out of the game last month. The only question now is whether who goes first - him or his AD, Dave Brandon?

North Texas: We lost to them in 2011. Wrecked them this year. We're lucky we didn't play them last year, when Dan McCarney took them to a 9-4 record. Could that be McCarney's ceiling with the Mean Green?

Tulsa: The ship may have sailed for Bill Blankenship at Tulsa by now, as the Golden Hurricane sit at 1-6 on the year.

Still around, trending steady or upward

Louisiana-Lafayette: Mark Hudspeth is winning games and getting to bowls year after year for the Ragin' Cajuns, and at age 45, he could be a candidate for a Power 5 job in the future.

Maryland: Randy Edsall's teams have been consistently improving year after year, and the B1G transition hasn't been as bad as I originally thought it might be for him, and winning at Wisconsin on Saturday isn't out of the question for them right now. That Under Armour swag may finally be paying dividends.

Minnesota: Jerry Kill's health issues are still a giant elephant in the room, but the Golden Gophers have rebounded from the Tim Brewster era and are back to the heights of where Glen Mason was able to get them in the mid-2000s.

San Diego State: After taking over for Brady Hoke, Rocky Long has gotten a few 9-4 and 8-5 seasons under his belt for the Aztecs.

Stanford: David Shaw has nicely taken over where Jim Harbaugh left off, and already has a Rose Bowl win and two other BCS appearances on his resume. The Cardinal's offense has taken a definitive step back this season though.

WVU: The biggest surprise among this group. I thought Dana Holgorsen was a dead man walking before this season, but right now with an improved defense and one of the best wideouts in the country in Kevin White, he's got the Mountaineers at 5-2 in a competitive Big 12.

So where does this leave Kevin Wilson?

 

I'd likely put him in the "still around, trending steady or upward" category, even after the tough situation that IU is in this season. Yes, it will be tough to for Wilson to squeeze 5 or 6 wins out of the next few games, even with our uninspiring upcoming schedule. Swick made the argument to stay the course with Wilson last week, and I agree with his assessment, even if I'm not always a fan of Coach's game management or playcalling, or even when my game recaps have been as depressing as the past two ones I've written. In fact, when judging from the disasters of the teams who have already hired coaches, perhaps we're not doing too badly. Additionally, as coaches at schools like West Virginia and Ball State have shown, these categories for coaching confidence can be fluid.

However, we need to give Wilson's situation some context here. An Indiana football coach cannot be examined on the same level as one at Florida, Miami, or Michigan - all programs that have multiple national titles and long histories of success. At the same time, the Hoosiers don't even measure up to our B1G brethren at Minnesota or Maryland in terms of recent success. The Golden Gophers went to a bowl game for nine out of 11 seasons between 1999 and 2009, so some level of success had been established there in the previous decade. In addition, the Terps made a bowl game (including one BCS game) in seven of Ralph Friedgen's seasons as head coach between 2001 and 2010.

Indiana has made one bowl game since 1993.

However, there's one school that didn't hire a coach in 2011 that also is more known for basketball, and might provide a blueprint for schools being patient with coaches. Under David Cutcliffe, another offensive-minded head coach, Duke has taken its football program to new heights. Cutcliffe was hired in 2008, and it took him five whole seasons to get the Blue Devils to a bowl game, their first in almost two decades. In Cutcliffe's sixth season, however, he really struck gold, and Duke ended up finishing 10-2 in the regular season and winning the ACC Coastal division. This year, the Blue Devils are 6-1 and once again in prime position to take a weak Coastal division that doesn't have FSU or Clemson or Louisville in it. And while Cutcliffe and Duke have benefitted from this weak division - a trait that IU may not get to enjoy with the way Michigan State and OSU have played recently - college football has shown us that a lot can change in a short period of time and for unexpected reasons.

The Blue Devils face many of the same challenges as IU, such as the lack of historical success, the basketball dominance, and the crowded market of Power 5 teams (plus an awesome East Carolina squad) in a midsized state. In addition, Duke is a much smaller school than Indiana, though they do have a much larger endowment. But Cutcliffe and company demonstrate that if Duke can be successful, then it's not impossible at IU either. After four years, I can't say for sure if Wilson is the guy to do it, but unlike other coaches on this list, he's certainly earned the right to get a shot at it, even if the rest of this season goes like last Saturday did.