Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Why Kevin Wilson's contract extension is a bad deal for Indiana

Indiana signed Kevin Wilson to a 6-year contract extension and doubled his annual salary. That's a bad deal for Indiana. Read more to see why.

Kevin Wilson must be a master negotiator. He got a huge pay day on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension that will pay him $2.55 million annually, more than doubling the average salary on his initial seven-year deal.

Good for Wilson, bad for Indiana. 

That's like me selling you a cookie that no one really likes -- say oatmeal raisin -- but I know that you like it. It's a cookie that has a value of $1.60, but you decide to pay $2.50 for the heck of it. And you know what, you're going to buy a cookie from me for $2.50 every week for the next six weeks.

Who would do that? No one else is begging to buy the cookie, this isn't exactly a supply and demand argument.

Here are the simple facts: 

  • Wilson is 20-41 in five seasons at Indiana.
  • Indiana has made one bowl game under Wilson, finishing 6-6 and losing to Duke.
  • Wilson has won 8 Big Ten games in five seasons, an average of less than 2 per year.

In what job can you win less than 33 percent of the time -- with most of those wins coming against non-conference cupcakes -- and get a 100% percent raise and a six-year commitment? Seriously, it's ludicrous. 

I'm not saying Indiana shouldn't have given Wilson an extension. I was fine with that decision. I don't know if Wilson is the right guy, but I also don't know that he's not. 

My problem is with both the length and the value of the contract. Six-year contracts are reserved for guys who have attractive outside offers or who have proven themselves already. Neither of those apply here. 

Yes, Indiana has improved every year under Wilson. Yes, he has established recruiting classes never before seen at IU. Yes, he is a brilliant offensive mind and took Indiana to a bowl game.

But if you consider a 6-7 season and a loss to Duke in a garbage bowl success, then you're simply accepting of mediocrity. If so, that's fine. But mediocrity doesn't cost $2.55 million a year. You can find it for much cheaper. 

I was an IU student and a columnist at the Indiana Daily Student when Wilson was hired. I attended that press conference. The expectation was, that after he got his own players in the system, a 6-6 record and a bowl game would be the baseline. Look at Wilson's comments at his introductory press conference if you don't believe me.

"We could play them in the conference championship," Wilson said of Nebraska. "If they're good enough to win their division in the next two years."

"We have some seniors and they're not looking for a three or four-year process. They want to win now, and we're going to get this thing going as fast as we can."

Wilson was joking about Big Ten championships. In his fifth year, he won only two Big Ten games, and against two bottom feeders to end the year. A bowl game was supposed to be the baseline. To this point, that is Wilson's crowning achievement. 

He's done a good job, and contract extensions are very important for recruiting. Continuity is key, I get that. You don't win by hiring and firing a coach every couple of years. Look at the Cleveland Browns.

But six years and a 100% percent raise is too much. It just is. Give him four years and a salary that reflects inflation over the last five years.

Here's why Glass did it: Because his legacy at Indiana will ultimately be tied to Wilson. By giving him a ridiculous extension, he makes it clear that he's committed to the guy he's responsible for hiring. Glass didn't hire Tom Crean, but he did hire Wilson. It doesn't matter, in the long term, what Glass pays Wilson. If Wilson succeeds, Glass is a success. If Wilson fails, Glass is a failure.

Wilson is Glass' guy, and I get that. I respect it. I like Wilson, and he has done a lot of positive things in Bloomington. But the Hoosiers are still stuck in mediocrity, and mediocrity can be found for a lot cheaper than $2.55 million.


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