Monday, November 26, 2007
Indiana takes interim tag off Lynch's title with new deal
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Bill Lynch got his dream job, and
Indiana finally got some stability in its football program.
Nine days after the Hoosiers completed their most successful
regular season in 14 years, the interim coach was rewarded Monday
with a four-year contract.
Athletic director Rick Greenspan said he did not interview
anyone to replace Lynch, who coached this season under a one-year
deal after coach Terry Hoeppner's death in June from complications
of a brain tumor.
Indiana finished 7-5 for its most wins since 1993, and the team
is likely headed to its first bowl game since that same season.
"I think when you're an Indiana kid and you're a coach, I think
this is your dream, to coach at Indiana," Lynch said.
Lynch, who was fired from Ball State in 2002 after going 37-53
in eight seasons, was the Hoosiers' top assistant during Hoeppner's
two years as coach.
Lynch not only had to keep the team together after Hoeppner's
death, he had to keep players and coaches focused during a roller
coaster season, which included a three-game losing streak in
October that nearly derailed their bowl hopes.
The Hoosiers became bowl eligible by beating Ball State on Nov.
3 and then used a 49-yard field goal from Austin Starr with 30
seconds left to defeat their biggest rival, Purdue, on Nov. 17,
which all but assured them of a bowl bid. It was Indiana's first
win over Purdue since 2001.
"People told me the last few years that beating Purdue is
pretty important," Greenspan said, drawing laughter. "If you're
asking me if that cemented it, I'd say I've had very positive
feelings about coach Lynch leading this team for a long time."
But it still took more than a week to make the announcement,
leaving some to wonder whether the Hoosiers had conducted a search.
Greenspan acknowledged he had read up on some potential candidates,
but said he didn't interview anyone else.
"I did the due diligence, but I felt in Bill's case that he had
an interview that lasted about nine months," Greenspan said.
Lynch will earn about $250,000 in base salary and about $350,000
more for his television appearances, camps and speaking
engagements. The contract also includes standard bonus clauses for
postseason appearances and about $50,000 in deferred payments.
Lynch is the fourth Hoosiers coach this decade, following Cam
Cameron, fired in 2001; Gerry DiNardo, fired in 2004; and Hoeppner.
Players gave Lynch a standing ovation when they were told of his
return during a team meeting Monday morning.
"Every good thing takes time, and I'm excited," cornerback
Chris Phillips said. "We didn't talk about it much, but it was
always in the back of our minds. We just wanted to win games and
let it play itself out."
Former Hoosiers star Anthony Thompson, the 1989 Heisman Trophy
runner-up, embraced the move to retain Lynch.
"Coach Lynch brings a lot of continuity to the program, and
he's really a man of character and integrity," he said. "I think
it's very important to have continuity because these kids have been
through a lot emotionally and he knows how to get these kids to
Hoeppner's widow, Jane, was among those attending Monday's
announcement and called the decision an extension of her husband's
"Those are our assistant coaches and they are like my family,"
she said. "I'm just so happy for all of them. I'm beyond thrilled,
and this was absolutely the right thing to do for Indiana
University and for the program."
Lynch was made interim coach June 15, after Hoeppner took a
medical leave. Four days later, Hoeppner died from complications of
a brain tumor.
Lynch's resume doesn't read like a typical Big Ten coach.
After being fired from Ball State, he spent the 2004 season as
the coach at Division III DePauw. He then joined Hoeppner's staff
in 2005 as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.
In 14 seasons as a coach at Ball State, Butler and DePauw, Lynch
was 81-67-3. He played quarterback at Butler and was the Hoosiers'
quarterbacks coach in 1993 and 1994.
Lynch replaced Hoeppner during each of his three medical
absences and filled in for two games -- both losses -- when Hoeppner
had his second brain surgery in September 2006.
Lynch said he was looking forward to continuing Hoeppner's
"I think really, really good things are ahead because we've got
good football players coming back," Lynch said. "I think there's
a buzz out there about Indiana football, going to a bowl game, and
this takes us to the next level."