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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Wilson’s early actions show promising for program turnaround

I have to admit, when Kevin Wilson first walked into the Henke Hall of Champions for his introductory press conference last December, I had my doubts.

The guy’s resume spoke for itself, but it screamed “great assistant coach, average head coach.” He was quiet; he wasn’t a great speaker, and he seemed nervous.

Fast forward to last month’s Big Ten Football Media Days in Chicago, and all of my doubts were erased.

Wilson approached the microphone in front of likely the largest media contingent he has ever faced and lit up the room. He was confident and witty, and his public speaking skills had improved tenfold.

Yes, talk is cheap, but Wilson has done everything right this offseason.
So he yelled at a McNutt Quad resident assistant on one of his first days on campus — so what?

That was Wilson’s way of saying, ‘I am the damn head football coach, and I will be taken care of first.’

And the whole WNDE battle with idiot radio host Jack Trudeau — in which Wilson defended his program while shooting back at the former Illinois quarterback — was great for IU and very entertaining.

It not only showed that Wilson will go to bat for his current players, but it got people talking about IU football — a fairly difficult thing to do unless they’re losing games 83-20.

“I think he did the right thing,” sophomore wide receiver Kofi Hughes said. “I think any head coach would defend their program if somebody was coming at it.”

Maybe not any head coach, but we get the idea.

Wilson’s stance was a breath of fresh air for the Hoosiers because they didn’t expect it.

Former coach Bill Lynch always stuck up for his players, but he rarely stuck up for the struggling program in the way Wilson has before he’s even coached a single game at Memorial Stadium.

“I love him for it,” senior wide receiver Damarlo Belcher said. “It showed that he’s looking out for our best interests, and he’s not going to let anybody get down on us. He has our backs, so we’ve got his back.”

These players love Wilson. As much as their bodies may have been shocked when Wilson started putting them through much more difficult workouts in the winter, they know his way wins.

“He motivates you every day to go out there and have energy,” Hughes said. “As much as you wake up in the morning like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t think I can play today,’ once you get out there and he’s out there yelling, it just kind of gets your juices going.”

I don’t know how quickly Wilson can turn this   program around, because it has been down for so long, but if he can dominate games in the same way he can dominate radio fights, the Hoosiers will be playing in the Big Ten championship game in no time.

After Trudeau and his co-host hung up on Wilson, Trudeau continued to bash the new head coach, saying he was in over his head and no recruits would ever want to play for him.

This was despite the fact that a few weeks earlier, Wilson received a commitment from Gunner Kiel, the top quarterback in the 2012 class.

Wilson’s going to have people talking about the Hoosiers this year.

He might throw a player or two under the bus every once in a while or get in an argument with some talking head, but he is going to change the IU football program for the better.

I just had my doubts at first.


­— jmalbers@indiana.edu

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