Indiana Daily Student

Recruits agree - Yeagley right for job

Soccer recruit Matt McKain

Todd Yeagley is his father’s son – and that’s a problem for some IU fans.

The son of IU legend Jerry Yeagley took the reins of the IU men’s soccer program under questionable circumstances, if you ask some members of Hoosier nation.
A commenter on the IDS Web site claimed that the younger Yeagley was hired “not for experience or talent, but his name and thanks to Daddy.”

Monday, Todd Yeagley took the first step toward proving himself to those skeptical Hoosier fans without leading IU in a single game – exhibition or otherwise – as he reeled in nine athletes from the 2010 class. The nine, four of whom are among the top-100 players in the nation, signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Hoosiers.

Granted, Todd Yeagley led Wisconsin to a 7-9-2 record last year. Sure, he doesn’t have the track record as a head coach that, say, IU alumnus and Akron coach Caleb Porter has. But he has something that went a long way with a lot of the members of the 2010 class.

That something is familiarity. Just ask IU’s top-rated recruit, Harrison Petts. A midfielder, he is rated as No. 4 in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and knew Todd Yeagley because he had committed to IU while Todd Yeagley was still an assistant coach at IU.

“Once Coach Yeagley came, I was really comfortable with the decision and I knew the program would have no setbacks,” Petts said.

The players have faith in Todd Yeagley. It’s his charisma, not his father’s, that dictated Jacob Bushue, No. 69 in the class of 2010, to not change his mind. Before Todd Yeagley came to IU, Bushue still thought of him highly as a coach.

“I almost went to Wisconsin because of him,” Bushue said. “We’re pretty close. We get along real well. He’s a real good coach.”

Let’s face facts. IU never had a shot with Porter. He wants his own legacy, and the fact that he signed an extension with Akron through the 2014 season shows that.

Sorry, Hoosier Nation, but it wasn’t in the cards.

As far as former coach Mike Freitag’s dismissal goes, let’s do the math. His teams have, since Freitag’s first recruiting class came in, gone from a scoring average of 2.3 goals per game in 2005 to about 1.2 in 2009. The groups have also allowed more goals, too, going from .68 goals allowed in 2005 to about 1.1 in 2009.

For a perennial power such as IU, with seven national championships and a tradition that is perhaps stronger than any other collegiate soccer program, those numbers don’t add up.

IU Athletics Director Fred Glass made the right call in picking Todd Yeagley. He picked a coach who was the least-removed from the program – both by years and by experience. He picked a coach that recruits from this year were familiar with and would be comfortable with.

“I knew Todd really well, so I was really happy he got the job,” said Dylan Lax, a product of Columbus North high school in Indiana. “In a way, I was kind of worried, but I knew everything would work out, and I was glad Todd was able to get the job because I know him really well and we’ve had some good talks.”

In essence, Glass’ choice, like Petts said, will not set IU back – not in the least.
Some recruits said they would have it no other way.

“I’m excited about Yeagley coming in,” said Matt McKain, Lax’s teammate at Columbus North. “His dad did so much for the program, it’s exciting to see it stay in the family.”

Todd Yeagley managed to retain the vast majority of the 2010 recruiting class, and he will be able to breathe life into a program that has become stagnant during the past few years. His players are comfortable with him. His recruits are comfortable with him.

His athletics director is comfortable with him.

Those things are all steps in the right direction. The next step is the biggest, though – taking his first strides onto the field named for his father.

Regardless of the name of the field, the team is Todd’s. And he’ll have to show that he can live up to, not his father’s, but his fan’s expectations.

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