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Checking in with Indiana's Fred Glass, Part I

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's fitting that the man in charge of a transitioning athletic department spends much of his time in transition.

Fred Glass officially took over as Indiana's athletic director on Jan. 2, and he's still settling in to his new life. Two of his sons are finishing school in Indianapolis, and Glass shuttles back and forth between home and a condo in Bloomington. He was en route to Indy on Friday afternoon when I caught up with him to discuss the state of Indiana football, which backslid last fall after a breakthrough bowl run in 2007. Unlike most Big Ten schools, Indiana doesn't call football its flagship sport and Glass, a 1981 IU graduate who previously served as a lawyer, will be judged largely on whether he and Tom Crean can repair the Hoosiers' once-distinguished and recently disgraced men's basketball program.

But make no mistake, Glass also has big plans for the football program, as you'll see in our conversation.

Generally, what's your vision for the football program coming into this job, your short-term and long-term vision for that sport?

Fred Glass: My vision is Rose Bowl. I want to be a Big Ten champion in all of our sports, especially our premier sports. And I want to go to the Rose Bowl and win it in football. I'll leave that to you on whether it's a short-range or long-range vision. I acknowledge it's probably not going to happen in the immediate future, but that's what I want to build toward. It's not good enough for me to sort of be competitive or middle of the pack. Obviously, it'd be great to be bowl eligible and regularly go to bowl games. I obviously want to do that. But where I want us to be heading is Pasadena.

As far as getting there, I know you guys have made a stronger commitment to facilities with the stadium renovation. Are there other things that you think need to happen to get yourself in a position where you can make a run to Pasadena?

FG: I think so. I really believe we can do that because every other team has figured it out. Really every team has had its golden time, its time in the sun, and some of them are still in it, teams that used to be looked upon a lot like Indiana. They've figured it out. Everybody has their challenges, and I've heard all the challenges that Bloomington and Indiana have, but I really think we can do it. We need to have some continuity, we need to have good coaching. It's always going to be about good coaching and our student athletes, but I believe it's a real copout to suggest there's nothing we can do as a department to help support the program when we aren't winning games. Winning games is the most important thing, I get that. Marketing only goes so far, and I'm not naïve about that. But I'm also not going to take the easy way out and say, 'Well, geez, I can't do anything until they start racking up some victories.' So we're going to try and do some new things, build some new traditions. We've horseshoed in our stadium. We're going to try to treat that as a new stadium, new traditions and things to get people excited about coming to the games and staying for the games and create the kind of atmosphere where kids want to come to Indiana and be successful.

You mentioned marketing. Do you focus on current Indiana fans and fans of other Hoosiers sports or do you need to build new fans as well?

FG: I think we need to build new fans because we just candidly don't have enough of them right now. And a lot of our most strident people have been fans for a long, long time. We need to keep those folks coming but also build our pipeline and try to appeal to all of the above. We need students to come out and stay in greater numbers. We need our alumni to come out. We are the state university of Indiana, so we need the people that maybe didn't go to IU but they consider IU to be their school, for them to come out. So we've got a lot opportunity there across the board, and there's some things we can do to make people say, 'Hey, a Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana, organized around a football game, is a pretty good way to spend your weekend,' and get more and more people to do that.

As someone who has been around the program for a while as an alum, how have you viewed this program? Have you wondered why it's been so hard to have success and sustain success in football, given that it's a Big Ten program and you've had success in other sports?

FG: One of our real challenges has been continuity and stability. I'm the fifth athletic director in eight years, so how do you build stability and continuity and a strong base when you've got that kind of turnover? During that same eight years, we've had three different presidents. I'd have to go back and count up how many football coaches, including a larger-than-life figure [Terry Hoeppner] who tragically died of brain cancer. The football program specifically and the athletic department at Indiana has taken a few torpedoes that might have sunk a lot of ships. It's a real testament to our tradition and our strengths that our ship hasn't sunk. We've continued to be very successful in a lot of our programs. So my hope is that because this is the last stop I will ever have -- I'm an IU guy, I'm not looking to build a résumé to go somewhere else -- that I can be the start of some continuity, coach [Bill] Lynch gets some continuity and we can build from there. I do kind of think we're a sleeping giant because we have a lot of resources, we're in the Big Ten, we're the quintessential college town, we're at a world-class university that naturally attracts some of the best student-athletes. So we've got a lot of strengths to build upon, and I'm real bullish on the future of Indiana football.