BIG TEN: DiNardo, Hoosiers win back respect

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by Ralph_Wiggum, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. Ralph_Wiggum

    Ralph_Wiggum Founding Member

    Oct 6, 2003
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    Some good news for the former LSU Coach. But, it's way too tough to win at Indiana in FB with Notre Dame and Purdue instate.

    BIG TEN: DiNardo, Hoosiers win back respect

    September 15, 2004

    Indiana's football offices are buried inside Memorial Stadium, so the coaches sometimes go days without seeing people from other sports or having extensive contact with the outside world.

    Coach Gerry DiNardo works in those offices, unaware of how Indiana's shocking victory at Oregon was interpreted nationally, or even right there in Bloomington.

    "I have no idea," DiNardo said.

    Well, let's give DiNardo a clue about just how axis-tilting the Hoosiers' 30-24 triumph was last weekend.

    I would have thought there was a better chance that a German shepherd would walk up to me and give me hot stock tips than Indiana would win at Oregon, where the Ducks had won 21 straight against non-conference opponents.

    The Hoosiers (2-0) have had a football team for 117 years, and during that time they have contributed more bad football than practically any other team on the planet. Indiana, which already has equaled its victory total from all of last year, has endured nine straight losing seasons.

    The Big Ten coach of the year trophy should already be in the mail to DiNardo, because he has brought Indiana football respectability.

    "We didn't know when good things would happen," said DiNardo, in his third season in Bloomington. "We just felt if we stuck to the plan, good things would eventually happen."

    Maybe it's too early to pin any expectations on the Hoosiers, but this is their best start since 1996. They showed against the Ducks they can play defense, a stark change for this team. Indiana forced seven turnovers and withstood Oregon's rally in the fourth quarter.

    At least for the moment, the victory altered opinions about Indiana football and brightened some grim statistics. It ended Indiana's succession of 13 straight road losses -- sound familiar, Lions fans? -- and was Indiana's first road victory over a ranked opponent since 2001, when the Hoosiers dealt then-No. 22 Michigan State a stunning upset at Spartan Stadium. Oregon was ranked 24th.

    I'm not ready to pronounce Indiana a Big Ten title contender, but the Hoosiers deserve respect in the league because they have an abundance of something most other teams in the Big Ten don't have -- experience.

    Indiana returned 19 starters, including quarterback Matt LoVecchio, a transfer from Notre Dame. Their 19 returnees are most in the Big Ten, and LoVecchio is one of five returning quarterbacks in the league.

    "There is no substitute for experience," DiNardo said. "That's one of the intangibles a quarterback has to possess. Matt's experience has gotten him off to a good start, and hopefully he'll maintain that start."

    It also helps that DiNardo finally has a full complement of players, and not numbers more suited for an arena league team. For the first time in his three-year tour, he has the full allotment of 85 players on scholarship. Last year he had 66, with only seven seniors.

    With this kind of momentum, Indiana's Big Ten opener against MSU in two weeks has a different spin. That could be another huge game for the Hoosiers -- does Rutgers ring a bell, Spartans fans?

    Indiana has a realistic chance of going into that game with a 3-0 record. Should Indiana beat Kentucky this weekend, the biggest crowd in years probably would fill Memorial Stadium to see the Hoosiers play the Spartans. Indiana hasn't started 3-0 since 1994.

    Wait, what's that, Rin Tin Tin? Yes, I'll make sure not to buy the Martha Stewart stock no matter what the price.

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