In which I answer questions about IU, the Colts, sports journalism and all kinds of stuff.
What is your gut on what IU is going to do after the football season with Coach Allen? $25 million is a lot but it’s clear the ship is sinking. Maybe they can get an unforeseen win or 2 before the season is over but right now that looks unlikely. — Bryan Smith
I like Tom Allen a lot and, like a lot of folks, I thought he got things turned around after the Gator Bowl berth and the 6-2 pandemic season. Apparently, so did IU’s administration, paying Allen one of the highest salaries in the Big Ten. Now, all these years later, that same administration sits between a rock and a hard place. If IU fires Allen at the end of this year, it’s a $25 million buyout. If they wait until after next year, it’s $7.95 million.
I’ll say this: If the money can be found — and heaven knows, they found it for Archie Miller — suck it up, pay the man and move on. Otherwise, we’re looking at another dreadful season next year with a lame-duck coach (sort of), which can’t help recruiting. Hey, it’s only money.
Have they played better lately? Obviously. (And I should mention you sent your note after the home loss to Rutgers). They had a chance to knock off Penn State in Happy Valley. They beat Wisconsin in Bloomington last week. But I tend to think Allen and the Hoosiers have to win out if there’s going to be any argument for keeping Allen beyond this season.
I have always wondered: How come some national media get to keep talking about their fandom for a sports team when I thought that wasn’t highly thought of? — Paul K
That’s a great question. The print business has changed a lot in my 40-plus years. Back in the day, journalists tried to maintain objectivity, even in sports. The worst thing you could be accused of was being a homer. That didn’t mean having animus against the home team; it just meant trying to watch games and write stories with a clear eye. Like everybody else, I grew up loving my teams — Mets, Islanders, Knicks and Giants — but when I became a journalist, I gave up my fan card. Among writers, I think Bill Simmons broke the mold, coming along and becoming massively successful, first as a Boston super fan blogger.
As for TV journalism, I just think that’s a different animal. That’s show biz. So Greeny can love on his Jets and Wilbon on his Chicago teams and so on and so forth. . Nothing wrong with it. Just not for me.
I just find I do my job best when I’m emotionally untethered from the teams. As an example, look at the Colts game against the Browns. If I was a Colts fans, I’d be screaming from the rooftop about the two late officiating calls. I’d be crying conspiracy and claiming it’s all scripted nonsense. But I’m not. I honestly, dispassionately felt the first call was reasonable and the second one (the overthrow pass interference) absolutely stunk. I might be mistaken, but I’m coming from an objective vantage point. And I think readers appreciate/prefer that.
So I don’t think it’s a horrible thing — TV gets a little too cheerleader-ish for me at times — but it’s not the best way for me to do my job. And let’s face it: I have an Old School approach to things. I’m a dinosaur. This happens when you’re 63.
I grew up reading you in the Indianapolis Star. From your current perch as a newsletter writer, what are your favorite memories from those days--about the city, its sports, and the print era? — Eric
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