Big Ten: Troy Wagner
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After saying earlier today that a decision would be coming soon on Indiana's starting quarterback, coach Bill Lynch made up his mind. Lynch chose incumbent Kellen Lewis, who has started the last 21 games for the Hoosiers. The coach also announced that junior defensive end Greg Middleton, the nation's sacks leader in 2007, will be suspended for the opener against Western Kentucky for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Some might argue that Lewis should pay a heftier cost after being suspended for spring ball. Back then, the all-conference quarterback was acting like anything but a leader, skipping team meetings and weightlifting sessions. Backup Ben Chappell did everything right, stepping in for Lewis this spring and improving his game with increased reps. Chappell continued to push Lewis throughout preseason practice and could have handled the offense this fall.
But Lewis' experience and edge in talent cannot be overlooked, and the junior expressed remorse about his actions during the winter and spring. He still has his teammates' respect and should step in seamlessly to a no-huddle offense that was tailored to his talents.
"When I felt like I was in my prime, I didn't necessarily bend over backwards and help anybody, which is something that I make sure I do now," Lewis told me last week. "I make sure I learn all my teammates' names, which is another thing I probably didn't even do last year. I try to make sure that everyone knows that I'm happy to be back and happy to be back around them."
Let's not forget that Lewis already holds a share of the school record for touchdown passes (42) and has accounted for 6,441 total yards. He was one of only three Division I-A quarterback to rack up 3,000 passing yards and 700 rushing yards last season. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Central Michigan star Dan LeFevour were the others.
It must have been difficult to break the news to Chappell, but Indiana doesn't want to play two quarterbacks, and Lewis is far too valuable to be left on the sidelines.
"It's something I wanted to do since I got back on the team and I knew I had to take certain steps to do so," said Lewis, who was reinstated in early July. "No one wants to be the second guy."
Middleton's suspension for the season opener shouldn't hurt too much, as the Hoosiers are deeper up front this year. Lynch also suspended defensive lineman Kyle Kozak, safety Brandon Mosley and tight end Troy Wagner for the opener.