Reports out of Indianapolis and the AP are that by 3:00 p.m. Tuesday (or, unless you're on the west coast, today), Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will be introduced as the next head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers following his interview earlier today in Bloomington. As mentioned before, Wilson was a protege of Randy Walker and Bob Stoops during 23 of his 25 years as an assistant coach. Thus, Wilson -- the 2008 Broyles Award winner for the nation's top assistant coach -- knows a thing or two about scoring a lot of points from the spread.
It's almost something of a wonder that Wilson chose Indiana for his first college head coaching gig; the Hoosiers have been to precisely one Rose Bowl (a 14-3 defeat at the hands of O.J. Simpson and USC in 1968), and no coach has ever surpassed the .500 mark in Big Ten play during his tenure at Bloomington in Indiana history. Even Nunavut seems less bleak this time of year.
The conventional wisdom, then, is to select a coach with a personal connection to Indiana's program so he'll be less likely to bolt at the first sign of success and an offer from a higher-profile team. To that end, Wilson's only connection to the Hoosiers is the time he spent with future IU coach Terry Hoeppner while both were assistants at Miami University in the mid-'90s. But even that, the putative "nightmare scenario" of a coach bolting a team trying to build its way back to respectability, doesn't really happen at Indiana at all. The last coach to leave the school for greener pastures was Sam Wyche, who spent all of one 3-8 season with the Hoosiers in 1983 before taking the Cincinnati Bengals ' head coaching spot. Since then, it's been one firing after another with only Hoeppner's death before the 2007 season as the tragic exception to the rule.
Thus, if a coach comes to Indiana and achieves any level of success that would lead a better team to hire him away, that would necessarily be a step up in performance and results at IU. Really, Indiana's at the point where anything more than one eight-win season or two bowl bids before the coach leaves -- for whatever reason -- would be pure gravy. Thus, it makes sense to hire the coach who's most likely to succeed, period, and Kevin Wilson probably fits that bill.
From Wilson's perspective, meanwhile, this job probably looked a lot less attractive two years ago, and what changed in those two years has nothing to do with anything that happened at Indiana or even the Big Ten. The key event here was Gene Chizik going 5-19 during his first tenure as a head coach up at Iowa State (the Indiana of the Big XII, basically), and still not only landing the Auburn job but going 12-0 in his second year with the Tigers. Sure, Chizik had enough history with Auburn that if he'd stayed at Texas as the offensive coordinator for those two years, he might have gotten the job anywy, but he might not have. And really, the lesson here is that good teams aren't automatically considering a lousy record at a lousy program the poison pill that they used to. Nor should they, really.
So really, even if Wilson doesn't exactly get the Hoosiers back in the Rose Bowl hunt before he leaves, the odds are pretty good that this hire will be beneficial to both Indiana and Wilson. Thus, barring major transgressions on Wilson's part (which, considering his mentors through his career, seems awfully unlikely), this should turn out to be a good hire for all involved.