August 20, 2010

Inside The Bloggers Unwashed, Unshaven, Studio: Indiana Edition

It's been a rather hectic week for me personally, hence the lack of posting and the unimaginable sitting out on a Thursday Question segment. But hey, that's life for you...Anyway, John M from the popular Indiana blog The Crimson Quarry was kind enough to answer several questions for our latest edition of ITBUUS. I highly recommend sparing a few minutes from your busy schedule of unproductiveness at the workplace to check it out:

1. I remember you back from your "The Hoosier Report" days, particularly when you used a picture of the balcony hecklers from the Muppet Show to illustrate Dick Enberg and Billy Packer. What got you into blogging about IU sports in the first place?

Heh. I forgot about that post. I started my original blog with about five minutes of consideration. I read a post on Stampede Blue, the SB Nation Indianapolis Colts blog, lamenting the absence of an IU or Purdue blog on the network. After exchanging a couple of e-mails with the proprietor of the site, I decided to start my own blog. I already was spending plenty of time following the Hoosiers on the web and making message board posts about them, so it was natural to funnel that wasted time into something more structured.

I jumped in without so much as an introductory post. At some point, I ended up on the MGoBlog blogroll, which seemed to grow my audience, at least among other bloggers. It seemed like a good time to write about the Hoosiers, with the football and basketball programs on the upswing. Of course, within a year of starting the blog, our football coach was dead and our basketball program was nearly so.

2. As a Penn State basketball fan myself, I can sympathize very much with your plight as an Indiana football fan and the seemingly endless cycle of losing. What are IU fans pointing to in an effort to keep themselves hopelessly optimistic?

Right now, there are a number of causes for optimism. IU has improved its facilities dramatically, and Bill Lynch has been surprisingly successful as a recruiter. While IU always has had a knack for finding good skill position players, we finally are developing some depth to the roster. We have an athletic director who is an IU alum and who seems very committed to improving the football program.

Even if Lynch doesn't work out, the job probably is more attractive than it has been in a long time. Finally, I'm old enough to have gone to IU when Bill Mallory was the coach, so my introduction to IU football came when we were a respectable middle-of-the-pack program in the conference for a few years. I've never accepted that we have to be a bottom feeder.

3. Obviously, we're giddy with excitement over having our home date with IU moved to a "neutral" site in the DC area. Understandably, IU fans who care can't be too thrilled with it. Do you see some rationale in this move, however? Would you rather have IU play this game in Bloomington but see the athletic department bring in $4 million less than they're getting now for moving this game?

Yes, I definitely would rather have the game in Bloomington. I've written about this on a number of occasions since the game was announced about a year ago, and I'm not any happier about it now than I was on the first day that I heard about it. As I said yesterday, it's not that I thought IU was likely to beat Penn State this year, but over the last decade the games in Bloomington (and the 2000 game in Indianapolis) have been competitive, with three of the last four games played in Indiana decided in the last minute.

As I mentioned above, I really like our current AD, Fred Glass. He seems to get it in so many ways, and he seems really determined to improve the game day experience and to sell the notion of going to Bloomington for games. So I have a hard time reconciling everything else he has done with this move, which just isn't the sort of thing that is done by schools that are serious about winning football games.

This is the sort of thing that Baylor would do, or that pre-Gary Barnett Northwestern would do (and did). It hurts the football program competitively, and winning games in the most important part of the equation. It devalues the season ticket package. I'm not necessarily saying that I don't have a price, but $3 million (even if it all went to IU, which as far as I can tell it doesn't) isn't program-changing money. Finally, finally, finally coming through against Penn State would be more of a program changer. Hell, even if we win I'll still wish the game had been in Bloomington.

4. Tom Crean: What's the consensus heading into year three? I've heard a few grumblings already, apparently he didn't pull in the greatest recruiting class this year (perhaps I'm wrong though and you can correct me on this). What are your expectations for this upcoming hoops season? What's the over/under on the number of claps Crean does throughout the season?

The vast majority of IU fans remain behind Crean, and that includes me. There have been some complaints, of course. Sixteen wins in two years will lead to that. But there is no blueprint for what Crean is doing, and I think it's going reasonably well. Our incoming recruiting class isn't great, but it isn't an embarrassment. Crean swung for the fences with a couple of five star recruits from the East Coast and struck out. I can live with that. The 2011 and 2012 classes seem to be shaping up.

Tom Crean: You're safe for now, but try and win a little more this season, will you? Not that there's any pressure and whatnot...

Crean really has been the victim of a perfect storm. Not only did he have to rebuild the IU program completely, he is forced to do so at a time when Purdue is really strong and even Butler is a title contender. I don't have any doubt in my mind that he will do it, but it's important to remember that people in this state, with good reason, exalt the high school basketball played here. It's great, but I do think it leads to some unwarranted criticism. To hear some people talk, Bob Knight won his titles with a bunch of Indiana farm boys. Of course, that's not true. But when two of last year's top ten teams were led by Indiana kids, some start to think that's the only thing that matters.

As for 2010-11, I'll be content with an NIT berth, excstatic with an NCAA berth, and disappointed in a losing season. Obviously, horrific injuries like the one to Maurice Creek could change the equation.

As for the claps, I'm not sure I can count that high. Drinking five gallons of Diet Coke a day would give anyone some extra energy.

5. If there's one area aside from basketball that I'll concede IU has the advantage over PSU in, it's inventing awesome and original drinking games. How good are your "Sink The Bismarck" skills? Any epic stories from your college days that involved this game?

Do they play drinking games like "Sink The Bismarck" at PSU? Sadly, the answer is a resounding "No."

My skills are decent. I never had my own bucket at Nick's but I've played and should be able to hold my own with those who are novices. I never acquired the scientific knowledge of the game that some of the true regulars had, though.

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