- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kevin Wilson did the right thing, and all it did was make his seat hotter.
In wasting no time kicking his top returning defender off the team after Antonio Allen was arrested on drug-dealing charges, Wilson at least left no doubt about where his priorities are for his program.
The real question is how much longer he'll have control of it moving forward, because once again the seemingly neverending job of rebuilding the Indiana defense has hit a significant snag. And it's really not that difficult to pinpoint where exactly the Hoosiers went wrong.
The margin for error at Indiana is small enough to begin with in the Big Ten, and it's only getting smaller in an East Division that is loaded with high-profile coaches in positions with financial support, large fanbases and the ability to attract elite talent. Wilson and Indiana took a nice swing at competing with the powerhouses on the recruiting trail in 2013, but again, with little room to make a mistake, a class that once looked like it could provide a foundation for competing in the league has come apart at the seams and might ultimately cost Wilson his job.
Allen is just the latest casualty from that group, but he certainly isn't alone in failing to deliver on what at the time appeared to be a promising class for the Hoosiers moving forward.
It was already clear at that point that Wilson's innovative offensive mind was going to deliver on that side of the ball, and part of the next step was loading up with enough talent to at least take a bit of pressure off his high-scoring attack. There was a clear emphasis on both recruiting difference-makers on defense and keeping in-state talent from heading elsewhere. It had looked like Wilson had succeeded on both fronts while also proving he could land four-star talent by claiming signatures from six athletes who fit that bill.
Allen, defensive end David Kenney III and Darius Latham were the crown jewels of that haul, three skilled products from Indianapolis that the Hoosiers could build a serviceable unit around to start climbing up the conference ladder. Indiana would also dip into SEC country to snag linebacker Kris Smith and defensive back Rashard Fant out of Georgia, and there was certainly reason for optimism with that collection of talent coming on board.
But only Fant and Latham are still with the Hoosiers, with Kenney and Smith both having transferred and Allen now in the midst of his legal issues. And the other four-star recruit never even made it to campus, as wide receiver Taj Williams failed to qualify academically.
The success and failure of one particular class shouldn't provide a final judgment on a coach. Wilson has been a stand-up character, clearly knows how to install an offense, and is generally well liked around the profession. But given where the 2013 group fell in his tenure and how it figures to hamper the Hoosiers this fall and down the road, it's not unreasonable to look at this latest domino and project that it could spell the end for Wilson.
Perhaps elsewhere in the country, Wilson might not have even been given a pass for the disaster that transpired after quarterback Nate Sudfeld's injury last season. In some ways, Wilson might have got off far too easily for the way he managed his passers previously and eventually wound up going into the season ill-prepared after watching two of them transfer out of the program.
Either way, it doesn't make much difference now. There's no changing the situation at this point, and all Wilson can do is make the most of the time left in this offseason and training camp to get the Hoosiers ready to make a push in the Big Ten.
But after suffering another significant blow in the summer, there's no question his job just got even more difficult despite simultaneously doing it the right way.