In an effort to educate, inform, preview and most importantly, poke fun of those who dare add the Ball State Cardinals to their football schedule, OTP is proud to present the Know an ’11 Opponent series. Some things to note… this isn’t heavy lifting here with broken down statistics, game film replays, or random things like that. It’s still preseason after all, and that kind of analysis and evaluation is best saved for game week. So buckle up kiddies… time to Know an ’11 Opponent!
DISCLAIMER: Sitting down to write this post was exceptionally challenging for me for a whole host of reasons. There seems to be an internal battle waging between rational evaluation and totally ridiculous fan fueled hatred of your in-state rival. For those that don’t know me personally, I grew up in southern Indiana where the love of IU is not only common, it’s expected. Worse yet, if you are a fan of a rival school you are told in no uncertain terms that your existence is quite unneeded. Before I even knew there was a Ball State, I was (and honestly still am) a huge University of Kentucky fan. That didn’t sit well with the locals, obviously. So my connections with IU faithful haven’t been all that positive. FURTHER DISCLAIMER: To beat some haters to the punch…
- I was accepted to IU. The one in Bloomington, not one of the branch campuses and chose BSU instead. It was neither my back up plan nor the only school that would have me.
- If your insult is going to be something along the lines of “second rate teachers college” or “testicle tech” save your keystrokes. Come correct and come original or stay home.
- I know many IU fans and alums. I even like a couple of them.
Having said all that, let’s see how this will go, shall we?
To be honest, I’m not even sure where to start with Indiana. In some respects, much like Ball State, what you thought you knew and what you’ve come to expect from them could very easily be 180 degrees from what you’ll see on the field in the fall. The Hoosiers have a new coach, a new system, a new attitude, and a seemingly new approach to football in general. And that’s a good thing for them since I’m not even sure “failure” is an adequate term to describe their last three seasons. After Bill Lynch (yes… that Bill Lynch) was named the interim and subsequent permanent head coach after the death of Terry Hoeppner, the momentum and resurgence of IU football just seemed to sort of lose track. It’s easy to do, after all, when you’re a program that hasn’t known success on a high level ever and each week in conference play results in another curbstomping at the hands of the Michigans/Iowas/Wisconsins of the world. Having said that, I don’t at all feel sorry for IU fans. In fact, I would argue that though not in the MAC and not even a yearly opponent, IU is my most disliked opponent for a whole host of reasons, but the most notable (for me, at least) being such a smug and totally irrational belief that they are light years ahead of BSU athletically and academically.
Remember back in 2008 when IU and Ball State played a little contest down in Bloomington? The barbs from that one still sting, despite how incorrect they were, which we’ll get to next week.
The Man Who Wears the Headset
Who leaves a job as the offensive coordinator for the presumptive favorite for the national championship to throw on an IU visor and go to work? Apparently, Kevin Wilson, much to my and pretty much everyone else’s surprise. The jump from coordinator to head coach at a lower profile athletic program isn’t the sticking point, as most jumps up in title are a bit of a step down in prestige. To me, this seems less “step down” and more “base jump without a parachute”. It’s sort of like Joe Biden resigning as VP to run for schoolboard somewhere. Some folks are itching to be a head coach, be the guy in charge, be the one responsible for making the decisions. I get it. I agree with it most times. But this is IU. For all intents and purposes, IU football is a BCS bottom-feeder that could potentially derail job progression for Wilson. Season after season of bad to mediocre results is really the expectation here, right? For Hoosier football to be anything other than 3rd-tier on campus (behind basketball and basketball recruiting) may be impossible and that doesn’t scream out to athletic directors across the country what a hot commodity you are. It’s Wilson’s first head coaching gig ever, so there’s no record to speak of or evaluate. IU fans will point to the remarkable success at Oklahoma, and I would retort with IU and OU have very different talent on the roster. Comparing one to the other at this point is like comparing Vince Lombardi to Stan Parrish. (i.e. one is really awesome and one really isn’t) Yes, I’m aware of the recruiting coup that Wilson managed this year to land Gunner Kiel and if he can recruit 4-star prospects that aren’t in his backyard to Bloomington, perhaps my comments above will prove incorrect.
Players and Stats of Note
A cursory look at the statistical ins and outs of last year shows that the Hurryin’ Hoosiers have lost their leading passer, leading rusher, leading tackler, and interceptions leader. There’s been a double secret QB competition that meant no one really knew who the front-runner for QB1 was. Both Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker were battling it out to be QB2 last year behind Ben Chappell and it looks like that competition has bled over to this season as well. Offensively, they do return their leading receiver in Demarlo Belcher who at 6’5″ and 215lbs provides one hell of a target assuming either of their QBs can get it to him. Defensively, DT Darius Johnson and LB Leon Beckham combined for 7.5 sacks last year and do make for an intimidating front for the defense.
If IU Football Was a Musician…
This was the easiest one of our opponent-musician mash-ups. You have a program that has been historically bad and is essentially the laughing-stock of their peers. You have a fanbase that when they do show up they lose all sense of reality and believe the Hoosiers are actually decent and have a chance to be awesome. Congratulations, IU… you’re Creed.
*shoots self in face for ever putting Creed on OTP*
I’m not as dismissive of the Hoosiers as I would be if Bill Lynch were calling the shots. You have a BCS level opponent, an offensive mind at least partially responsible for the successes of Oklahoma in recent memory, and a strong defensive front that gets to go against an equally new offense. Neutral field, large crowd, first game in the Lembo era, etc. all lead me to at least have a little bit of worry, but nothing out of the realm of possible. Nice Code Orange, but leaning more toward Code Yellow than Code Red.
Game week for this one is one short week away, so I won’t get into heavy predictions, inflammatory comments, or wild accusations yet. Gotta pace ourselves, you know. The only thing worth noting about Indiana is this…
42-20 still feels good. Really good. Really really good. Like… REALLY GOOD.
For IU chatter, news and note, our recommendations for your clicks would be The Crimson Quarry. John (its founder) and his team of folks there do a good job with IU coverage and rational evaluation of the Hoosiers. Definitely worth a read as the game draws near.