HoosierNation.com Q&A - Part I

HoosierNation.com's John Decker answers your questions about IU's scholarship numbers, the potential sanctions from the NCAA, the status of Kellen Lewis, and much more....

Q: Besides Lewis status, obviously, I would like to know which team members, including freshman are in town during the summer workouts. When does the team report for fall ball?

There's still no update on Kellen Lewis' status. He was enrolled in classes second semester, which dispels some rumors that he wasn't attending classes during the last couple of months. The hope among the coaching staff remains that he'll be back in the fall.

As for who else is in town, in this day and age, just about everyone is still in town. While it's not mandatory that players take summer school and stay on campus, just about everyone of significance will be in town working in the weight room and working out with teammates in preparation for the fall. These are important months for the players as they bridge the gap between spring and fall.

While I haven't heard anything official about the opening of fall camp, I'm assuming the first day of practice will be Aug. 4.

Does IU have two "one year" scholarships?

No. Just because two juniors have left doesn't mean that they are one-year scholarships. Technically speaking scholarships are renewable each year, so hypothetically you could simply not renew someone's scholarship after a year is completed. But barring violation of team rules, academics, etc., no one does that. It's not a good practice since it's a message to future recruits that you might get your scholarship yanked.

What are the best options for IU with the NCAA punishments hanging over the IU program?

I tend to believe that no significant additional punishment will be handed down by the NCAA. I base that on the fact that IU officials discovered the infractions, and because IU eased some of the restrictions Tom Crean inherited when he took the job. I think it's a safe assumption that IU officials consulted with someone who is well-versed on how the NCAA looks at these cases before rolling back some of its self-imposed penalties. I can't imagine they would have done that without feeling confident the NCAA was going to be satisfied with the self-imposed sanctions.

If by some miracle IU does happen to fill all of the remaining scholarships for 08-09, what will happen if the NCAA rules we lose one or two scholarships does IU have to tell a kid or two they have to go home or will it be forfeited later on? how will that situation work?

There's no way IU is going to use its 12 allotted scholarships. But if that did happen, IU would have to deny a scholarship to someone. The most likely candidate, I would assume, would be Kyle Taber since he started his Hoosier career as a walk-on. But the chance of that happening is zero. One of the reasons is because IU has only one senior next year (Taber), and three committed players for the '09 class. While they'll presumably get a scholarship back in '09 to get back up to the NCAA-allotted 13 tenders, that would still leave them one short of what's needed. I think you'll see nine scholarship players for next season.

When will IU announce the non-conference game times? Is that set by the Big Ten network?

Usually, IU waits to release its schedule in its entirety. Occasionally times will trickle out if other schools release their schedules earlier, but the Big Ten usually doesn't have the schedule finalized until August.

I am very interested in understanding the inner workings of the current IU Administration and the goals they have set for the athletic department. You have written about the need to increase football revenue and I think this would also mean a greater accounting in funding of all sports. "Can the increased seating at the Rock actually generate this type of revenue or do we need to play in a Bowl game each year? Also, do plans for expansion in facilities include all sports and if so is there a priority for the entire athletic department.

Actually, appearing in a bowl game doesn't generate a ton of revenue for the participating schools. Big Ten teams split bowl revenue, so, hypothetically, IU benefits much more financially if two conference teams appear in big money BCS games than by the Hoosiers making a trip to the Insight Bowl. Of course, there are many other things that happen due to a bowl trip that help pay the bills – increase in season ticket sales for next year as well as merchandise – but the bowl trip itself isn't a huge money maker.

As for facility enhancements, football and basketball are clearly No. 1 and No. 2 on the priority list, while baseball and softball appear to be next up. Those projects appear to have been slowed a bit, but from what I've heard they still intend to see them through. After that, I would think that tennis might be next up. I know the tennis coaches have been making their own efforts to raise money to build a new facility.

Last year IU was near the top of the conference in scoring because James Hardy created so many mismatches and Kellen Lewis kept defenses off balance. Still, IU was near the bottom of the league in total offense and time of possession. From what you've seen so far, do you have any idea as to where IU's scoring will come from this year and if IU's offense will be good enough to stay on the field against Big Ten competition?

First off, I don't know that I'd say they were near the bottom of the league in total offense. While they were ranked eighth, there was about a 30-yard difference between fourth and 10th, which is relatively meaningless.

But getting off my tangent…a lot depends on what happens with Kellen. If he's back, he won't have Hardy to throw to, but he'll still have very capable wideouts such as Ray Fisher, Andrew Means (if he doesn't leave for baseball), Terrance Turner, and some very good freshmen. I also expect Max Dedmond to make a significant impact at tight end, and Lewis will be working behind a better offensive line. The running backs should be better thanks to a healthy Demetrius McCray and the arrival of Darius Willis.

If Lewis isn't back, it changes a lot. It's hard to envision IU approaching the 31.7 points/game it scored a year ago without Lewis. I think you'd see a an efficient offense with Ben Chappell, but one that doesn't have the same sort of big-play ability.

Is Marcus Thigpen staying at running back?

Yes. He practiced once a week in the spring and that's where he played. With so many young wideouts coming in the fall, I would be surprised to see IU move Thigpen back to wide receiver during his senior season.

Do you expect Darius Willis to be the starting running back?

Probably not, but if he's healthy I'd expect to see him in the tailback rotation. If he separated himself from Bryan Payton, Demetrius McCray and Marcus Thigpen as the season went along then maybe he'd get the majority of the carries later in the year, but I'd look for the usual suspects to still be getting carries this fall.

Is James Brewer likely to break into the starting lineup if healthy?

Probably not. Rodger Saffold is a lock to start at left tackle, and the staff really likes Mike Stark at the right tackle position. Brewer has been sidelined for a long time, and is going to need some time to get back into the mix. He's got great size, he's in much better shape, and he's plenty athletic, but the other young tackles have gotten so much more work than he has, he'll likely be a back-up to Stark.

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