Catching Indiana football fever

CHICAGO -- Kevin Wilson brought that rarest of all commodities to Big Ten media days.

Indiana football buzz.

The first-year head coach created a ripple of interest earlier in the week by securing a stunning verbal commitment from quarterback Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind. Kiel is the No. 20 prospect in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 2-rated quarterback in the country. He also was considering Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Missouri.

Kiel safely qualifies as the Hoosiers' biggest recruit in decades.

Indiana had a couple of built-in advantages, since Kiel's older brother, Dusty, is a sophomore QB at IU and Columbus is just 36 miles from Bloomington. But Wilson's reputation as an offensive coach with a quarterback-friendly system was a major part of Kiel's decision. (It didn't hurt that Kiel had a conversation with Wilson product and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, either.)

Wilson could not comment specifically on the Kiel commitment due to NCAA rules, but did talk in general terms about his early recruiting impact at Indiana.

"There's a lot of water to go over the dam with guys that are committed," he said. "We're selling a great product, a great school, a great opportunity because we're ready to take this ship and get this thing exploded."

In exploding ship terms, Indiana football has often resembled the Titanic. The Hoosiers have won just 17 Big Ten games in the past decade and have played in just one bowl game since 1993 and have not won a bowl game since 1991. But Wilson is so totally uninterested in the past that he hasn't even watched game film of last year's team because he doesn't want it to color his perception of the players. Everyone is getting a fresh start.

"I will probably watch, when we play some Big Ten opponents, watch how our team did when it's game time to play Penn State in our opener," Wilson said. "We concentrate ourselves on developing our players, putting in our scheme offensively, defensively, special teams, and moving forward. That's all we've done. That's not coach speak, that's dead true."