The hard part might be over for Fred Glass, but the second phase of making a coaching change won't be much easier.
In dismissing Coach Bill Lynch with one year remaining on his contract Sunday, IU's athletic director admitted he was making a decision he didn't want to make, but ultimately felt he had to make for the long-term success of the football program.
"My experience is that sometimes the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do, and for me this is one of those times," Glass said.
What made it difficult for Glass was the man he had to let go. Anyone who has ever been around Lynch will vouch that he's one of the good guys in the profession. He's intelligent, likeable, approachable, and has always recruited players that have represented the university well. On top of that, he took over the IU program during the most trying of times and led it to its first bowl game in 14 years.
But since that magical 2007 season, the on-the-field results haven't been as positive. Three straight losing seasons and only three Big Ten wins wasn't enough for Glass to go with his heart and extend Lynch's contract.
"This is a very hard day for me personally," Glass said. "It is a hard day for the football program, the athletic department, the university. I take no joy in this at all. But yet I'm confident that it is the right thing to do."
Now that the difficult decision has been made, the challenge becomes finding the person who can reverse the program's fortunes and build a consistent winner in Bloomington.
That's not an easy task. After all, Indiana ranks 12th in terms of all-time winning percentage in the 11-team Big Ten, trailing all current schools as well as former member University of Chicago. The arrival of Nebraska next fall makes things even more difficult.
That sort of ineptitude can't be chalked up to 100-plus years of bad hires. Winning football games at IU has some inherent obstacles that aren't easy to overcome. It's long been known as a basketball school, and the state's high schools don't turn out the abundance of Division I players that neighboring states like Ohio, Illinois and Michigan do. It's also a state that has three high profile D-I schools (IU, Purdue and Notre Dame), which keeps IU from monopolizing the state's best high school players like Wisconsin and Iowa are able to do.
With that said, the Indiana job is better than it used to be. The recent $60 million upgrade to Memorial Stadium gives the coaching staff a facility that will attract recruits instead of turn them away. Lynch and his staff also will leave a much deeper and more talented roster than other coaches have inherited. While there will be plenty of work to be done, this isn't the complete rebuilding project that other recent IU coaches have had.
Glass also hinted that IU will offer a salary that is more in line with what other league coaches make. It certainly won't be in the neighborhood of Ohio State's Jim Tressel ($3.7 million), Iowa's Kirk Ferentz ($3.0 million) or Michigan's Rich Rodriguez ($2.9 million), but it will be more than the league-low $600,000 that Lynch was guaranteed during his tenure.
"I do agree with that notion and we are prepared to make available the financial resources to get the person or persons that we want," Glass said.
That will help, but it will still be a challenging hire for Glass to make. Indiana won't be afforded the luxury of looking at all of the non-BCS schools, finding the most impressive coaching resume, and having that candidate chomping at the bit to take over the Hoosier program. Plenty of others have tried and failed, and a bright up-and-comer will think twice before blindly taking over at IU simply because it's in the Big Ten.
Glass' Sunday afternoon press conference hinted that even he understands that there could be some initial reservations – he'd probably call them misconceptions – about the job.
"I think it is a fantastic job. Certainly, properly understood, it will be highly sought after," Glass said.
It falls on him to convince the best candidates that it's a fantastic job. While he'll be aided in identifying candidates by the Neinas Sports Services, the decision on Lynch's replacement will be his.
"I think it is important that people understand…that this decision will be my decision," Glass said.
It won't be an easy one to make.
DECKER: Coaching Decision Won't Be Easy
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