Indiana Hoosiers

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Jim Harbaugh compared Tom Crean’s firing to his time with 49ers

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Just as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was tipping off on Thursday, Indiana announced it had fired head basketball coach Tom Crean. Such a move was largely expected given the way this past season played out and now Indiana will have a new football and basketball coach in 2017. The Crean dismissal has been a bit of a discussion point while the tournament has been going on, and among those sounding off on the head coaching change in Bloomington is… Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh.

At first you may think that seems kind of odd that a football coach at one Big Ten school would have any reason to discuss a basketball coach at another Big Ten school being dismissed, but Crean is Harbaugh’s brother-in-law, so Harbaugh has a personal reason to be critical of the Indiana decision. In a story for Sports Illustrated by Michael Rosenberg, Harbaugh compared his personal experience with the San Francisco 49ers with what he sees his brother-in-law going through this week at Indiana.

Jim Harbaugh looks at Crean’s Indiana tenure and says, “much like my situation in San Francisco, the people that are doing the micromanaging … when it comes to building a ball team, what they know could not blow up a small balloon. In my case, an owner and a general manager. In his case, an administration. They are so similar in that way. And he still wins two Big Ten championships outright.”

If this quote tells us anything, it is that the head coach of the Wolverines still has some bitter feelings for his old bosses with the 49ers. Harbaugh took the 49ers to a Super Bowl and nearly captured a Super Bowl championship, but he was topped by the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his brother John Harbaugh. The other Harbaugh brother had some choice words to say about Indiana’s situation as well, telling Crean the day he was let go will prove to be the best day of his career.

One might suggest Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers parting ways ended up being the best day of his career. Now, Harbaugh is the highest-paid coach in college football and coaching his alma mater back to national relevance as he enters his third year on the sideline. Crean will certainly land a new job somewhere, but he may not be the next highest-paid coach in the sport.

Helmet sticker to The Comeback.

Ohio State OC Kevin Wilson addresses departure from Indiana, denies any wrongdoing

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One of the more eyebrow-raising moves of the offseason was the departure of then-Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson after he had guided the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl games.

Wilson ended up on his feet as the new offensive coordinator at Ohio State but his move inside the conference did lead some to express concern over his treatment of players in Bloomington. The coach finally addressed the media for the first time since then and not surprisingly was asked about his somewhat controversial firing.

“The athletic department — the athletic director and those guys — made their decision,” Wilson told reporters, including the Columbus Dispatch. “From there, the comments were made. We just go back to how much we loved being there, loved our players (though we) didn’t have a chance to kind of see those guys off.”

As to an investigation that brought up several specific incidents of alleged player abuse, Wilson denied any wrongdoing and noted that everything had been looked into and cleared by both Indiana and Ohio State.

“We wouldn’t be here doing this job if those things were true,” he said. “Anyone can have an opinion. I know the department over there looked into everything. I know this school’s looked into everything. I know we’re very, very comfortable with what we’re doing, where we’re at, and we’re excited to move forward. The athletic director had outside counsel, found no evidence and that’s why we’re here.”

This likely isn’t the last time the late season departure will be brought up by either team as the Buckeyes and Hoosiers play each other in their 2017 opener this fall.

USC confirms hire of Deland McCullough as Trojans’ new RB coach

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While it took a few days to make things official, USC has confirmed the hire of Deland McCullough as the Trojans’ new running backs coach.

“We are thrilled to welcome Deland to the Trojan Family and fortunate to have him on our staff,” head coach Clay Helton said in a statement.  “He had great success recruiting and then developing prolific running backs at Indiana who were NFL ready.  The Indiana run game during his time was effective, efficient and productive.  He understands the running game and was himself a very skilled runner as a college and pro player.”

McCullough replaces Tommie Robinson, who was hired last month by former USC coach Ed Orgeron to fill the same position at LSU.

The trip West is a bit of a departure for McCullough as he’s spent nearly his entire coaching career — dating back to 2010 — at Indiana. Despite the unfamiliarity with Los Angeles, the young coach developed several quality runners with the Hoosiers, such as Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard, and should be able to keep that impressive list of pupils growing with players like Ronald Jones II on the USC roster in 2017.

Mike Hart leaving as Syracuse RBs coach for same job at Indiana

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So much for going home again.

Early last year, Mike Hart, a star athlete in high school just outside of Syracuse, joined the Syracuse football program as running backs coach. “It was the one place that I wanted to come back to,” Hart said according to the Syracuse Post-Standard a couple of months later.

Nearly a year later? He’s left home again, this time to take the same coaching position at Indiana. The news was first reported by Scout.com and subsequently confirmed by the Indianapolis Star.

Hart, who played his college football at Michigan and remains the school’s all-time leading rusher, will be reunited in Bloomington with Mike DeBord. IU’s new offensive coordinator, DeBord served as Hart’s coordinator at UM. Nick Sheridan, the Hoosiers’ quarterbacks coach, was a quarterback with the Wolverines whose time in Ann Arbor overlapped with Hart’s.

In addition to the one season at Syracuse, Hart also coached backs at Western Michigan (2014-15) and Eastern Michigan (2012-13).

Two hirings complete Tom Allen’s first Indiana coaching staff

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Entering the first full week of February, Tom Allen had two openings on his initial Indiana coaching staff.  With the second weekend of the month upon us, he now has none.  Again.

In  press release Friday, Allen announced that he has added Darren Hiller and Nick Sheridan as offensive assistants.  The former will serve as offensive line coach as well as running-game coordinator, the latter as quarterbacks coach.

With the twin hirings, which had previously been reported as likely HERE and HERE, Allen’s nine-man on-field staff is complete.

“I have known Darren Hiller for a number of years and have always been so impressed with him, both as a person and as a coach,” Allen said in a statement. “He is a tremendous teacher in the area of the offensive line. Darren does a great job mentoring young men and finding ways to motivate them to play at their highest level. He has been a part of a tremendous offensive attack at South Florida and I think that will continue with us here at Indiana.

“Nick Sheridan is a young offensive mind that I am very impressed with. I love the fact that he is a coach’s son. He has been around this game his entire life. I know that we feel like we got a young Shawn Watson in Nick Sheridan.”

Watson left Bloomington late last month to take the coordinator job at Pitt, for those wondering why his name was included in the quote.

Hiller had just been hired by new Houston head coach Major Applewhite for the the same job last month.  He replaces Greg Frey, who left late last month for a spot on Jim Harbaugh‘s Michigan staff.

Prior to that new — and brief — job at UH, Hiller had spent the 2016 season at USF. He’s also coached FBS-level lines at Cincinnati (2013-15), Nevada (2012) and Arkansas State (2002-11).

Sheridan’s hiring, which comes just a handful of weeks after he was hired to coach tailbacks at Central Michigan, reconnects him with Mike DeBord, who coached Sheridan when he was a quarterback at Michigan and recently took over as the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator.  Prior to landing his first on-field job at CMU, Sheridan spent 2014-16 as an offensive graduate assistant at Tennessee.