With programs like Wisconsin and Michigan State recently finding championship success in the Big Ten, coaches, athletic directors and fans know any program can make the right coaching hire and field a program that can compete in the conference.
In December of 2010, Indiana University hired the offensive-minded Kevin Wilson to be the man in charge of turning around the fortunes of the Hoosiers football program. Wilson knows he alone cannot change the perception or on-field performance of a program looking to rise from the ashes since Terry Hoeppner first tried to resurrect life into the Hoosiers program in 2005.
Scout.com sat down with Wilson to talk about his program and the growth he’s seen since taking over the program.
COMMITMENT FROM ADMINISTRATION
The success of any college athletic program starts at the top as athletic administrators hold the keys and purse strings that can help or hinder a program’s growth. For Wilson, he’s found total support since the day he was hired.
“Our administrant has tried to reinvest every year to some degree,” said Wilson. “This year it’s our new helmet concept and we’re doing some branding down in our weight room, and finding a facility with new graphics to keep the building bright. By the time we put it all together with some stuff for our game day environment, it will be a half-million dollars. The year before that it was our new practice field with our turf field and new Bermuda grass field.
“Prior it was back to our initial branding when I got here and the doubling of salaries for coaches, and the year before that it was the facilities. So we built the facility, but our administration is committing to reinvesting and trying to give our staff time to get some continuity while continuing to reinvest.”
Entering his third season, Wilson feels the lack of support in the past had some things to do with the lack of success in the program.
“Indiana is a beautiful school and a great set up,” he said. “But you have to make a commitment and I feel we’ve got a pretty strong commitment from our president and athletic director.”
PUTTING THE PUZZLE TOGETHER
In Wilson’s first year as head coach the Hoosiers struggled on the field going 1-11. By year two, Wilson saw marked improvement despite fielding the youngest team in college football as the Hoosiers finished 4-8 overall, winning two Big Ten games (Illinois & Iowa) and giving Michigan State and Ohio State fits at The Rock.
Wilson knows the improvements shown in 2012 are not guaranteed in 2013. However, he feels the program has instilled the basics needed to continue its rise.
“I think the one thing we’ve learned is just how we want to operate as far as practice habits, training habits and what our standards or guidelines are,” said Wilson. “Bottom lines: what is our standard and how do we operate?
“The first year we ended up playing 16 true freshmen and 16 redshirt freshmen, and those guys all played a lot with another good class. Now we’re going into the third year and we have our core guys that have played for two years and we have 19 starters back. On paper, we are bringing in one of the better classes we’ve ever brought in...on paper.
“I don’t know if that paper means anything, but they look good coming in. So we have a lot of guys back, and I think the guys understand the standard and how to work and how to train.”
Photos taken by Scott Reed