Three years ago the Indiana University football Hoosiers welcomed a class of 20 into the program as freshmen. Ranked 58th in the country at the time, they had no way of knowing just what they were getting into.
First there wasn’t going to be football that Fall in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then there was. And they found themselves on the sidelines of an upset victory over No. 8 Penn State.
It was powered by a quarterback named Michael Penix Jr., sling the rock around the rock until finding something more on the final few drives. He just couldn’t miss, all the way to his now-fabled reach for the left pylon.
These Hoosiers went on to beat Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and more en route to a top-10 appearance in the AP Poll and shooting up the College Football Playoff rankings each week.
But now the year is 2023. Just four of them remain.
A few members of the roster are fifth years, guys like Josh Sanguinetti, Matthew Bedford, Mike Katic and Sean Wracher. They’ve added seniors through the portal since then. Andre Carter, LeDarrius Cox, Patrick Lucas (so a lot of the defensive line) and others.
That group has seen the highest of Indiana football highs to the lowest of the lows. Top-10 to 2-10.
It’s not as though what’s become of Indiana has been their fault. They’re not the ones hiring three different offensive coordinators, four different defensive play callers or running the program.
They’ve been on the field and fought through it all. Stuck with the program through its lows. They really deserved better than the swaths of empty seats in Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
You win in college football by developing recruits. Retaining four members of an entire class three years later is extremely not that. Quite the opposite, most of those dudes transferred down to lower levels.
It’s been a running theme for a while. Indiana hasn’t consistently developed talent in years. Players that looked like future draft picks early rarely improved outside of the linebacker spot.
When you can’t develop your talent you turn to already-developed guys in the portal. Indiana has done that for the past two years and has all of seven wins to show for it so far. Just two being against conference foes.
Each offseason has been throwing stuff at a wall and nothing, absolutely nothing, has stuck. New defensive play-caller? Gets a new job at UNC out of nowhere. New offensive coordinator? Fired mid-season a year later. New guy hired full-time, no interim label.
Transfer quarterback to replace one of the best in program history? Currently playing in the MAC. His backup? In position to win a Big Ten title with Michigan alongside an Indiana-developed tight end.
Bad decisions become a trend at some point and we crossed that a while ago. Now fans are calling for The Big Decision.
Until then, nothing’s going on in Bloomington. Nothing at all.