Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Wilson Wants Basketball Attitude for IU Football

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Wilson Wants Basketball Attitude for IU Football

Article excerpt

When he agreed to become the head football coach at Indiana University three years ago, Kevin Wilson knew he would need time to build a winning program. The Hoosiers, after all, had finished with more wins than losses just once in the previous 16 seasons. And yet, Wilson still didn't know how deeply entrenched pessimism over IU football had become until he walked into the campus bookstore and saw T-shirts proclaiming, "We've never lost a tailgate."

It still irritates him to see those shirts, "The pessimism comes out, 'Well, here comes football,'" said Wilson during the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. "I made a comment about our fans' T-shirts, 'We've never lost a tailgate.' But when you win those games, the tailgate is actually a whole lot better than when you lose those games.

"I don't care how much food or celebration or music that you've got, the teams that win have a lot more fun. I think you win together."

During the aptly named IU Tailgate Tour this summer, Wilson told one gathering of fans that he has bought a few of the offending shirts just so he could set a match to them in the fireplace. But building a fire is easy compared to igniting passion within the IU fan base.

If Wilson didn't know he was moving to a basketball state in December 2010, he does now.

He arrived at the tail end of the lean years for Tom Crean's basketball program, taking in the 12-20 season in 2010-11.

While it's an apples and oranges comparison - IU basketball has won five national titles - Wilson can't help but be a bit envious of the enthusiasm fans display inside Assembly Hall.

He'd like to hear more noise generated inside Memorial Stadium.

"When our basketball team was struggling, it was still packed. It was 20 years between (outright Big Ten regular season) championships but that house was packed," said Wilson, whose team begins preseason practices today. "You can be a reactive (football) fan and wait for a bit, but it's going to take longer and be harder to react. …

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