Nobody is going to confuse Indiana for a football school, given its storied basketball history. The Indiana Hoosiers have not won a bowl game since 1991. It is one of three bowl victories in school history. This is why any suggestion that Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson enters a season on a hot seat may feel a little strange.
Following Indiana’s dismissal of defensive back Antonio Allen, who racked up quite the list of drug-related offenses this week, the attention for some has shifted to the head coach in charge of the Hoosiers. Austin Ward of ESPN suggested Wilson made the right move in removing Allen from the program (agree 100 percent) and that it turns the temperature up on his hot seat for the fall. Does it really? Ward is by no means alone in suggesting Wilson is on a hot seat. Athlon Sports placed Wilson in the top 10 of coaches on the hot seat out of the spring, making note of the step back Indiana took last season following an injury to quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Once Sudfeld went down, Indiana lost any offensive cohesion and momentum. Injuries happen, and the impact of every injury is not created equally. However, each coach must be prepared for when an injury happens and it is fair to serve up a certain level of criticism for Wilson following Sudfeld’s injury. You can only place so much blame on injuries.
Let’s keep a few things in mind. Wilson took over an Indiana program though to be pretty close to becoming a bowl team, and Wilson was supposed to help get the Hoosiers over that last hurdle. Instead, Wilson embarked on a total rebuilding project (or in Indiana’s case another new construction project). After winning just one game in his first season, Wilson managed to increase the win total each of the next two seasons to five wins in 2013 before stepping back to four wins last season. If the expectation was Indiana would have played in a bowl game by his fifth season, then Wilson has come up short and is deserving of hot seat talk. But is that the fantasy expectation for Wilson, or the realistic one?
Four seasons without a bowl game is most certainly a fireable offense at most programs, but is it really that harsh an offense at Indiana? What about the areas of improvement for the Hoosiers in that same stretch? Indiana has gone from averaging 21.4 points per game in 2011 up to 38.4 ppg in 2013 (that average dipped to 25.9 ppg last fall). The defense has failed to show the same kind of progress, floating around 35 points per game allowed during Wilson’s tenure in Bloomington. Also consider the Hoosiers are lumped in the same division that some are hyping as the best division in college football (although that is a bit of a stretch right now) with Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers. The division may be a bit top-heavy for now, but expectations continue to be high for Michigan and Penn State in the long-term. That should make for a tough road to six wins most seasons for the Hoosiers.
So what is the realistic bar for Indiana football? Is it six wins? Seven? In this day and age, that is a fair ceiling that gets a team to a bowl game, but history would suggest otherwise for Indiana. The Hoosiers have played in just nine postseason bowl games in 117 seasons. If Wilson is on a hot seat, there has to be more to the equation that can be seen off the field.
That’ll teach him. They hope.
In the third quarter of Clemson’s 35-point win over Louisville Saturday night, Tigers cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. was involved in a punt-return kerfuffle with Cardinals defensive back Trenell Troutman that ended with Booth, after he had taken him to the ground, punching Troutman. The fracas resulted in Booth being ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Following the game, head coach Dabo Swinney apologized to his UofL counterpart, Scott Satterfield, for what he described as unacceptable, disappointing behavior.
Sunday, Swinney stated that the punishment phase for Booth commenced almost immediately, and commenced in a very unique way.
“He had a long bus ride home last night and plenty of time to think about it,” Swinney said, confirming that Booth rode the managers’ bus back to Clemson instead of flying home with the rest of his teammates.
For those keeping score at home, it’s a roughly seven-hour drive from Louisville to Clemson via an automobile, and likely longer if you’re taking a bus. Taking a plane, it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and a half.
In addition to the bus ride, Swinney also stated that Booth will be subject to additional, unspecified in-house sanctions.
At least publicly, Alabama is putting a positive spin on the most talked-about ankle in college football.
Late in the first half of Alabama’s win over rival Tennessee, starting quarterback and Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa went down with an apparent ankle injury. After spending time in the sideline medical tent, Tagovailoa went into the locker room for further observation.
Not long after that, Tagovailoa was seen exiting the stadium and getting into the back of an ambulance; he would ultimately return to the sidelines but not the game as Mac Jones finished out the win. Immediately following the game, Nick Saban stated that Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain, a similar injury he worked through a season ago, and will “probably be out a week or two.” In the postgame press conference, the head coach all but ruled the junior out for next weekend’s home game against Arkansas.
In a statement Sunday, the football program confirmed that Tagovailoa underwent a surgical procedure on the ankle earlier in the day. It was also confirmed that the junior will not play in this Saturday’s game against Arkansas.
Tua Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain last night against Tennessee. Our physicians performed a successful tight-rope procedure on his right ankle this morning. This is the same injury, but the opposite ankle that Tua injured last season. Tua will miss next week’s game against Arkansas, but we expect a full and speedy recovery.
As for that TightRope procedure, which significantly cuts the recovery time from a high-ankle sprain?
This technique is used to stabilize an ankle after injury. It can be used to repair a high-ankle sprain, which damages the soft tissue structures between the tibia and fibula and causes these bones to separate. It can also be used to stabilize a fracture of the fibula. The TightRope system anchors the ends of the tibia and fibula together with a braided polyethylene cord, rather than with a rigid surgical screw, to restore the original position of the bones and to allow for proper healing.
Following next Saturday’s game, top-ranked Alabama will be on a bye in Week 10 before its huge showdown with No. 2 LSU in Tuscaloosa Nov. 9. Tagovailoa’s availability for that game is uncertain, even as he told teammates that he’ll “be back for LSU.”
The combination of nearly three weeks from the time of the surgery to the LSU game and the TightRope procedure itself lends credence to the private optimism coming from Tuscaloosa regarding Tagovailoa being healthy enough to take the field for a game that could very well determine one of the four College Football Playoff participants.
Bob Diaco may no longer be the head coach at UConn but his legacy of trying to build a rivalry with UCF lives on in the form of a seven-figure check.
The Hartford Courant reports that the soon to be independent Huskies have agreed to a 2021 game in Orlando with the Knights and that the program will receive a $1 million check as a result of the trip South for the non-conference meeting.
The two teams have played seven times since becoming fellow members of the AAC dating back to 2013, with UCF holding a 5-2 edge overall in the series. The Knights won the meeting in late September 56-21 and have dominated the Huskies the last few years.
Fans of both programs know there’s not much of a rivalry given the lopsided nature of the results but there have been attempts to stir things up, most notably by Diaco when he ran UConn and created a semi-serious (and unacknowledged in Orlando) trophy and named the game the ‘Civil ConFLiCT.’
At least things won’t end with September’s contest as the two teams continue to fill out their schedules. UConn will now have UCF on the docket in 2021 in addition to home games against FCS Holy Cross and Purdue plus road trips to UMass and Clemson. The Knights, meanwhile, host Boise State and travel to Louisville in the non-conference slate in addition to their regular rotation of AAC opponents.
Lane Kiffin has made headlines again and it has nothing to do with his team’s play on the field.
Conference USA announced on Sunday that they’ve fined the Florida Atlantic head coach $5,000 and publicly reprimanded him for violating the league’s sportsmanship policy after he posted a tweet on Saturday night that was critical of officials.
“Conference USA has specific rules and standards regarding sportsmanship which have been adopted by our membership,” CUSA commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a statement. “We have an obligation to enforce our rules including the prohibition of public criticism of officiating.”
Kiffin’s expensive tweet came in the heels of a 36-31 loss to Marshall on Friday.
The Owls and their social media-loving head coach will travel to Old Dominion on Saturday to continue conference play.