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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Lynch revamping public image

IU football coach Bill Lynch checks the scoreboard during the football team’s spring game on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. The Crimson beat the Cream, 28-27.

Like most coaches, IU football coach Bill Lynch casts a tame poker face during the most uncomfortable situations.

The bland facial features and monotone voice inevitably make it tough to interpret his emotions.

But on occasion, one can see through the disguise and translate his feelings, particularly when he’s contrasted with former coach Terry Hoeppner.

Hoeppner, as most of us know, was more famous for his frequent public appearances than on-the-field antics.

When Lynch was promoted after Hoeppner’s tragic death in 2007, the masses wrongfully assumed the new head coach had to emulate his predecessor’s image.

Truth is, no matter how much you loved Hoeppner, it’s unfair to say Lynch must follow suit.

Coaches operate under their own systems, even when it comes to meet-and-greets in the community.

Although some students argued Lynch was not physically noticeable at locations other than the football field last year, he is ensuring that nonsense ceases in 2009.

By the time fall camp rolls around, Lynch will have made about 70 public appearances, with approximately 25 of those visits to greek houses, residential halls and classrooms all over campus.

On Monday, Lynch stopped by two sororities, Alpha Chi Omega and Kappa Delta, and one fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, while the houses were eating dinner.

He gave away prizes, talked some football and even tested the brothers’ and sisters’ knowledge about their chapters’ histories.

Some laughed and others were in a state of shock, but most were attentive when they saw Lynch up close.

“I think the girls realize it’s a huge honor for Coach Lynch to be here, so they do take it seriously,” Alpha Chi Omega President Hannah Reifel, a junior, said. “It’s always nice to meet coaches in person because they do a lot for the University.”

Each speech lasted 10 to 15 minutes, and more than 30 members were present at each of the three houses.

Before I followed Lynch’s tour, I was particularly interested in how he would entice students to come to games instead of spending most of their Saturdays in the tailgating fields.

Would he beg on one knee?

Make his players give speeches?

No. He did neither of those things.

Instead, Lynch was blunt and honest about increasing student attendance for this upcoming season.

“I am not here to beg for your support, but that’s really my pitch,” Lynch said to the Beta house. “I know the greek system does some wonderful things like Dance Marathon and Big Man on Campus. We need that spirit at football games, too. If fraternities and sororities come, others will follow.”

Sophomore Brian Rans said it was great seeing Lynch in his own dining hall, sharing laughs with his Beta brothers.

But like many, he is a realist.

“I think this team just has to win to get students from the tailgate fields back into the stadium,” Rans said. “They have a better team this year, so attendance should go up.”
It doesn’t take research from an acclaimed professor to understand that winning records directly correlate with booming attendance.

Unfortunately for non-power football schools like IU, we live in a “what have you done for me lately” society. So, when the Hoosiers boast below a .500 record, it’s not surprising students won’t even walk across 17th Street toward Memorial Stadium.

Junior and Kappa Delta President Emily Hughes said even if Lynch’s squad doesn’t capture victories in the fall, visiting students is a good attempt to get them back on the gridiron bandwagon. 

“It’s a great PR move because our girls will tell other members of the chapter and friends all over campus that Bill Lynch stopped by,” Hughes said. “Now, he’s not just a face. I got to know him. All the girls got to know him. I’m thankful he talked to us.”

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