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In All This Vastness

there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves

NCAA Football: Indiana at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NASA launched the Voyager I spacecraft in September 1977 on a mission to observe the solar system. Upon completion of its mission and prior to venturing into the cold unknown of deep space, NASA gave Voyager I one last command.

Turn its camera back, toward home. Capture one final image of the Earth.

That pale blue dot suspended in the sunbeam. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

This image came about based on a plea from famed astronomer Carl Sagan. He made note of our home’s solitude in the vast expanses of the universe. Change may come, but here we remain. Insignificant in the grand scheme of things on the Pale Blue Dot.

“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

... And this is where Indiana football finds itself.

Conference realignment is swirling, better programs are joining the Big Ten and Indiana’s on-field product has spent the past three years circling the drain to the very bottom of the league.

It sits alone here, those who’d normally join it having overtaken it soundly. Rutgers, an addition from a past round of realignment, has now defeated Indiana in each of the past three seasons.

It’s cold. The stadium empties as gamedays slog away with the promise of even stronger competition from the likes of Oregon, Washington, UCLA and USC.

Indiana has won two Big Ten football games in three years. Two. Illinois and Michigan State. In that time, multiple missed field goal attempts at Memorial Stadium have resulted in deus ex machina wins for the program that, in a normal world, would be rather embarrassing losses.

Not that Indiana has saved itself from embarrassment. Between the rising losses and miscues to hiding kickers and pointing to viewership numbers in a season opener against Ohio State, it’s made itself rather loud in its futility.

If the national audience can’t avoid Indiana... can the powers that be behind the program avoid it?

This is a moribund football program. It’s plain to see for anyone that’s either spent their Saturdays watching the games as a fan or had the misfortune of having it as one of the YouTube TV multiview boxes. It’s been this way for three years.

As soon as the script breaks from an opening offensive drive and Indiana is faced with the shapeless horror of situational football, it’s been unable to adjust. For the past three years. With as many different offensive coordinators. And about seven different starting quarterbacks.

This isn’t the kind of prolonged failure you can blame on execution. Different players and coaches have cycled through this spiraling football program with the same losing results when the clock strikes zero.

At some point, Real Change at the top is necessary. Indiana probably crossed that threshold weeks if not months ago. Today should make it obvious to anyone who cares about the program, especially those in charge of making decisions.

For now Indiana’s reality is obvious. As Sagan wrote of the Earth and its insignificance in the broad scope of the universe years ago...

In all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves