The Indiana Hoosiers’ young defensive unit didn’t do much of anything right in 2012, allowing at least 40 points in six different games and 35.3 points per game overall (104th in the nation).
It took another step backward last Friday evening when co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler decided to leave for a vacant position with the USC Trojans.
“Mike Ekeler has accepted a job at Southern Cal,” said Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson on his personal Twitter account (@IUCoachWilson). “He is an excellent coach and we appreciate the contributions he made to our program.”
Although the defense struggled mightily last season, Ekeler has been a key part of adding talent to the roster, including the recent recruiting trail that helped IU bring in the Big Ten’s seventh-best class for 2013 (per 247Sports).
Among that class are three-star defensive prospects Antonio Allen, David Kenney, Chase Dutra and Steven Funderburk, who are all expected to compete for starting positions this fall.
It will be difficult for Wilson to find someone that can do the job Ekeler did while he was in Bloomington, but he has some solid names to choose from.
“We will take our time to find the best fit for [the football team] and Indiana University from what we know will be a strong pool of candidates,” Wilson added on Twitter.
One viable option – and probably the best idea at this point – would be to allow co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory handle the job by himself. He did so with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from 1992-93 and the New Mexico Lobos from 2009-10.
Mallory, who also spent a season as the LSU Tigers’ co-defensive coordinator in 2008, is Indiana’s assistant head coach, too.
Ekeler joined the Hoosiers in 2011 after serving as the Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ linebackers coach from 2008-2010. He replaces Scottie Hazelton at USC, who left to become the Nevada Wolf Pack’s defensive coordinator in January.