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Column: Hold on, Hoosier fans


By Justin Albers



It’s hard to be an IU football fan right now.

I get it.

You thought this year was going to be different. New coach, new attitude, fresh slate.
And what you’ve seen so far isn’t different at all. It’s exactly what you’ve watched for years, if not worse.

After the Hoosiers lost at North Texas last weekend, many of you probably moved on. You’ll get up on Saturday morning to tailgate, and then you’ll take the party elsewhere.
No one will blame you if you do. It’s the same IU football team, after all. Right?

All that being said, it’s too early to give up on IU Coach Kevin Wilson and his team. It’s been four games — four very lousy games, yes, but four games.

It’s too early to say Wilson won’t turn this program around. It’s too early to say the players are quitting on Wilson because Kevin Bush left the team. It’s way too early to give up.

“There’s just no quick fixes,” IU Athletics Director Fred Glass said. “I’m probably more disappointed than anyone else. I wish the results were better, but I still very much believe in what he’s doing. We have to give it some time.”

I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it, too: “North freaking Texas? You have to be kidding me.”

It’s a tough one to swallow for both the fans and the coaches. But Wilson’s staff isn’t making excuses. Many of the assistants showed up to media availability this week wearing angry scowls. Mike Ekeler was one of them.

“That was an embarrassment,” the co-defensive coordinator said of the North Texas loss. “We play ‘us’ every week, and ‘us’ kicked our ass. We didn’t come to play. That’s on me. I take that very personal. I’m embarrassed that that tape’s out there. We had guys out there playing like they were scared, scared to go up there and put their face on somebody.

“There is no depth chart at this point. We’re not going to watch that. We’re going to fix it. That’s why we were brought here, and that’s not the standard we’re going to set. ... We’ve got a saying: ‘Put that shit on film,’ and we put a lot of shit on film the other night.”

Ekeler has to be as sick as anybody by the Hoosiers’ 1-3 start. His defenses were so good at Nebraska he said he could have “ate eight hot dogs and smoked two packs of Marlboros on game day.”

Now he’s watching the players give more than 350 yards of offense to North Texas — in the first two quarters.

I know what he said was obvious, but it’s the passion that makes me think this coaching staff can still turn it around.

After the recorders went off earlier this week, Ekeler didn’t want to leave. He stood in the team room and repeated, “I promise you we will get this fixed.”

For many of you, that probably isn’t good enough. You want to see results, and you want to see them now.

I’ve seen the reaction around town. In Mother Bear’s on Third Street, for example, one of Wilson’s “Win Today” posters has been scribbled on in permanent marker: “Which day are we winning?”

I’ve seen the way the student section has been filled to the top at the start of both home games, only to be reduced to a tiny blob by the fourth quarter.

By the end of the win against South Carolina State, only a small handful of students remained.

I’m not trying to criticize you for your reaction. All of it is fair. You expect better out of a Big Ten football program, which has instead has been an easy target for
jokes lately.

But let’s not run Wilson out of town yet. Give him more time, and stick with this team for a little bit longer. The Hoosiers deserve at least that much.

PREDICTION
Where do the Hoosiers go from here? After a loss to North Texas last week, it’s easy to expect IU to get run off their own field Saturday.
But I think the Hoosiers will be competitive for much of the afternoon. In the end, poor quarterback play will keep the Hoosiers from
the upset.
Penn State 28, IU 17

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