IU Insider Blog: The Mallory Decision

It was a move that had to be made to send the message to Indiana football fans that you're in this to win. You never like to see good people sent packing but the decision Friday to let Doug Mallory and Jon Fabris go was absolutely the right one.

It wasn't a surprise.

It was far from it to tell you the truth.

The reality is that for Indiana coach Kevin Wilson to act in good faith with Indiana football fans he simply had to make a change or two on the defensive side of the ball.

And truthfully, there was no way that Doug Mallory could survive after the Hoosiers came within one victory of going to a bowl in a year when the defense ranked among the worst in Division I football. There was absolutely no way.

If you brought back Mallory after what just transpired on the defensive side of the ball, the message you would be sending to IU football fans was that winning really was not a priority. Today's decision sends the opposite message.

It's still incredible though to think that as bad as Indiana was on the defensive side of the ball last year, the Hoosiers almost qualified for a bowl game.

Think about that. Indiana won five games a year ago because of a high-powered offense that averaged 38.4 points per game and put up 508.5 yards of offense per contest. The Hoosiers scored 28 points or more in 10 of 12 games.

Against Michigan in the Big House, IU scored 47. In a home game against Minnesota, IU put up 39 points.

I only mention those last two scores because IU lost both of those games. Michigan beat IU 63-47 and Minnesota won 42-39.

It always comes back to defense when the conversation turns to Indiana football.

The single biggest problem at IU in football for the past 20 years has been the defense. I always go back to a single fact to illustrate it the best: From 1998-2002 IU had arguably one of the most exciting offensive players in the country in its backfield in Antwaan Randle El. He could run, he could pass, he could do it all. But he didn't play defense. And because no one else played it particularly well back then IU never went to a bowl game in Randle El's four years at IU.

But when you think about how bad IU's defense has been, then you need to take it a step further with what transpired in 2013.

IU gave up 38.8 points per game and 527.9 yards per game of offense. That ranked No. 120 out of 123 Division I schools. Only Idaho, California and New Mexico were worse.

Indiana couldn't get off the field on third down as opponents converted 47 percent of the time. That number was 45 percent on fourth down. Get in the red zone against IU and opponents scored 85 percent of the time, 44-of-52 attempts.

It was just bad. Really bad. If IU's offense turned the ball over and or had a few drives stalled, there was basically no way that Indiana was going to win the football game. No way.

Anyone who knows Doug Mallory feels terrible today. Doug is as nice of a person as you're going to find in college football. He is just a really down-to-earth family guy with a wife and three teenage daughters and as approachable as they come in this business. On the personal side I could never find a bad word to say about Doug Mallory.

But changes needed to be made and the buck stopped with Mallory. Apparently it also stopped with defensive line coach Jon Fabris, who had a short two-year cup of coffee with the Hoosiers before being sent on his way Friday, too.

So what is the problem? Is it scheme? Is it personnel? Is it coaching?

Yes.

IU's defensive needs a complete overhaul. The first thing it needs is better players. The Hoosiers seem to have taken a step in the right direction with last year's freshman class that included guys like Antonio Allen, David Kenney, Clyde Newton, T.J. Simmons, Darius Latham and Marcus Oliver. The new defensive staff needs to build around players like that.

But the Hoosiers could still use some defensive players in the current recruiting class. IU has 18 commits and Kevin Wilson said Thursday he plans to sign the full 25 he is allowed to bring in. He said he's still looking for players at all positions on the defensive side of the ball and secondary help is a high priority.

The one thing that is certain is that Friday's decision to let Mallory and Fabris go was absolutely the right one moving forward for Indiana football.

College football is big business and these were clearly business decisions.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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