After six years, the Yeagley name is once again tied with IU soccer.
Athletics Director Fred Glass announced Friday that Todd Yeagley, former Hoosier player and son of legendary IU coach Jerry Yeagley, will be the third coach in the program’s 42-year history.
“Coach Yeagley is going to bring this program where it once was,” freshman defender Matt Wiet said. “He’s going to sharpen us and improve us both on the field and off. He’s not going to put up with stuff that has gone on…He’s going to make sure that all of us are die-hard Hoosiers that will give their heart, spine and soul for the team and not just to play for themselves.”
Yeagley, a four-time All-American, seven-year professional and former assistant coach of the cream and crimson, has the background resume Glass said he was looking for. But his character set him apart from the two other candidates, University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jon Trask and University of Alabama at Birmingham coach Mike Getman, Glass said.
Just 24 hours after the announcement of his new position, Yeagley already has a path to guide his new program down
“We need to get these players doing all the small things that make up what the IU soccer program is,” he said. “That starts with the attitude which they train, the way they feel about their performance, making sure that they have all the support and the trust necessary from every coach and staff member.”
He made certain expectations clear to the IU players already, Wiet said.
“We’re getting ready for the upcoming seasons and making sure our chemistry and team aspect is there before we really step on the field and put the ball at our feet,” Wiet said.
Yeagley hopes the meeting will be the first step to another national championship.
“There are standards, everyday standards that are important,” Todd Yeagley said. “We have to, as we call it, ‘Get the swagger back’ and that takes a belief and a mindset within a group and we’re going to get that.”
Yeagley's first coaching gig was at Wisconsin last season. In his one year with the Badgers, he turned a 1-4-1 Big Ten team in 2008 into a contender at 3-3 in 2009.
He took Wisconsin to the conference tournament in his debut season, only to lose to his alma mater and new employer in the opening round, 2-0.
“It was a difficult moment for me – the most difficult since I’ve been here to tell a group of kids that have put their heart and soul and trust into what we were doing,” Yeagley said about leaving so soon. “Those relationships really are what made this decision the most difficult.”
But the Hoosier connection was too strong to pass.
“Those same relationships that I have back in Indiana are very unique because of all the different pieces of the IU soccer program and what it’s done for me was the biggest drawback,” Todd Yeagley said.
Like his father who coached just seven seasons before him, Yeagley knows the importance of the seven stars that accomplice and strengthen the IU logo
But, how much did his last name, so recognized by the IU soccer community, play into his hiring?
“The folks that I work with, the players that I’ve coached and peers in our industry, I’ll let them speak on that and let the folks that want to say that, that’s their right and I can’t control that,” Yeagley said. “But, I sleep well at night knowing that I give everything that I can to these student athletes.”
Instead, his father answered the question.
“If I had wanted to shape it that way, six years ago I would have kept coaching,” Jerry Yeagley said. “Then I could have done the Bobby Knight thing and just anointed him and made him the coach. I didn’t do that. I kept my word to Coach Freitag, who had been a loyal and prime assistant and that just didn’t work out. So, I don’t think it’s fair to Todd for people to say that he got the job because I’m his father.”
Still, the Yeagleys are, to the soccer community, inseparable on and off the field.
“A lot of people say we’re two peas in the pod or a chip off the old block,” Jerry Yeagley said. “What I say is that’s a compliment to me because I think Todd in a number of respects is well ahead of where I was at his age.
“He’s going to be judged by his quality of work, by his success and quality of success and rightfully so, that’s the nature of the job. Most importantly, he’s going to be judged by how the student athletes feel about him as they pass through the program and I think that will be his real measure of success.”
The new coach even discussed his final decision on the move back to Bloomington with his father.
“I consult with him on everything I do – soccer, life,” Yeagley said. “He was a great sounding board throughout the process and he’ll continue to be that for me throughout the rest of my life.”
For now, Glass thinks Yeagley is the right man for the job. IU soccer's tradtion now rests up on the shoulders of the Godfather’s son, and only time will tell how it will continue.
“IU soccer is the epitome of our sport in college and the special ties of all Indiana fans, alumni and friends,” Todd Yeagley said. “The tradition, the excellence, the people, the family…that’s what Indiana soccer is to me.”