You often have to respect a football program or organization for striving to maintain stability amidst trying times. Few things can be more frustrating as a fan than watching your team go in a different direction every couple of years. Just talk to a fan of the Cleveland Browns. That said, it’s also odd to see a coach receive a lengthy extension following a stretch of mediocre football. This is the reality facing the University of Indiana‘s football program.
There’s no question the Hoosiers have taken significant strides offensively since Kevin Wilson took the reins in 2011. Wilson’s first season in Bloomington was a disaster, finishing 1-11. Since that point, there has been cause for optimism. But does a record of 20-41 warrant a six-year, $15.3 million deal?
The emergence of Nate Sudfeld as the Big Ten‘s most productive all-around quarterback certainly helped the Hoosiers achieve their recent offensive success. In four years, Sudfeld threw 61 touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions. Indiana jumped out to a 3-2 start in 2014 which included a 31-27 win over an 11-3 Missouri team. Sudfeld was lost for the season the following week and the Hoosiers lost six straight.
It was said that Indiana would significantly improve on their record in 2015 when Sudfeld returned, but that really wasn’t the case as they finished the regular season with a 6-6 record. The Hoosiers nearly defeated Ohio State, which was the defending national champion in their Big Ten opener, but they fell short and dropped six straight to open the conference slate. They salvaged the campaign with two straight wins against bad teams to end the season. It earned them their first bowl bid since 2007, which was the likely reason for Wilson’s extension.
I certainly understand the rationale behind the move. It’s important to present an image of stability so that the program can attract talented student-athletes. But it’s difficult to look at this deal as a significant step in the right direction for Indiana. The team still ranks dead last in total and scoring defense just as in his first season in 2011. The offense also saw a major drop-off when Sudfeld was out of the lineup, and the quarterback won’t be returning in 2016. He’ll be handing the job off to Zander Diamont who has mostly struggled, which means the upcoming season will tell us a lot about how deserving Wilson is of this extension.