IU’s obsession with materialism

by azaleon

Candy-striped sunglasses. An awkward banner. Cannons. Big flags. Fireworks. Twenty different helmet designs. Sweet 16 rings. Cutting nets after a loss.

I’ve had it. Please, stop it.

Just win. Above all that other crap, get wins.

The Indiana athletic department is following a troubling trend of materialism -physical representations of pride- instead of bringing victories, which would mean the most.

I’m not writing this to call for anybody’s firing or direct blame to a single individual. I’m a big Fred Glass fan and think he should stay as athletic director for as long as he wants to.

Rather, this is a call to dial it down a bit and focus on what fans really want in their college teams.

The 2012-13 IU basketball team was a public relations nightmare. The descent from being ranked first in preseason polls took us on a journey of “things” that just felt out of place.

Because that’s all they were, things.

(I mean, if you think this looks cool, that’s your choice.)

But let’s move on to what is really troubling.

Cutting down the nets after losing to Ohio State for winning the Big Ten regular season title was dumb and I think we all know that. If you need a reminder, read this Pat Forde column or take a look at this picture and the long faces of the players.

A few months later, after the disappointing loss to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, 2013 Hoosier Hysteria rolled around.

“This has got to be a joke,” I thought. “He’s not actually going to do this, is he? No. Really?”

A banner for a Big Ten regular season title. With the net-cutting and banner, there must have really been something special about going 14-4 in conference that I didn’t know about.

You are rewarding a team that fell short of expectations. Two top-five picks , a bevy of senior leadership, a No.1 seed and the Hoosiers finish in the same postseason spot as they did the year before.

The ever-wise Chronic Hoosier brought up a good point a few weeks ago on WIUX radio, that went something like, if you’re going to give a banner to an Indiana team, make it the 2011-12 squad.

You know, the guys that came out of nowhere, defeated No.1 Kentucky in the greatest single IU basketball moment of the past decade (has to be top 5 all-time) and then went on to an unexpected run in the NCAA Tournament?

That’s why that team was more worthy of a banner, unexpected greatness. Expectations versus reality.

Oh, by the way, two of the guys from that magical team -Maurice Creek and Remy Abell- are now at different schools (but at least they have the Sweet 16 ring).

So now there is a banner in Assembly Hall to commemorate a team that underperformed (let’s face it, we all expected “Ind1ana” to at least get a Final Four berth).

On the basketball side, this program is essentially the minivan in front of you that has eight different honor roll bumper stickers because, dammit, each year must be recognized.

It embarrasses the kid who’s earning those grades because for him, doing well is nothing new. But what people will see are those bumper stickers and he’ll get heckled in the carpool circle for it.

The banner didn’t feel right when it was unfurled and it doesn’t sit right now, sitting in Assembly Hall. Nobody asked for this, so who is it really for?

If a team is good enough to be remembered, it will be remembered in IU basketball lore, that should be enough.

For football, the situation is even more dire.

“HEY GUYS, COME LOOK AT THIS BIG-ASS FLAG WE GOT. OUR HELMETS ARE COOL, TOO -JUST LIKE OREGON OR SOMETHING.”

“That is pretty neat, IU football. How are you guys doing this season?”

“DID I MENTION ONE OF THE HELMET DESIGNS IS CHROME?!?”

That’s pretty much how I feel. All the crap that IU pulls to try to get people excited about the football team year after year has again been exposed as a charade to care/spend money on a subpar team.

IU’s loss Saturday guaranteed the team will miss a bowl game berth -again.

How bad is this squad’s defense? The Hoosiers are allowing an average of 37.8 points per game which ranks 113th of 123 NCAA FBS teams. It is allowing an average of 507.5 yards per game, which ranks 117th, edging out only Temple, Nevada, Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Cal and New Mexico State.

Oh, this weekend’s loss against Minnesota was also IU homecoming. Granted, this is only one side of the stadium, but lets see how much marketing is helping attendance.

Maybe IU can take some of the dollars it spent on convincing people that this year would be different for IU football and buy a better coaching staff.

Conclusion

Nobody else in the country has this problem.

I bet no other collegiate athletic fan base feels this conflicted.

Cutting down the nets after a loss, a Big Ten banner at a program famous for championship banners and all the carnival attractions that the football team puts on -it’s all about attention.

That’s what IU’s aim has been. “Look at me. Look at what we’re doing.” Is it because there’s some need for validation? A need to show they’re special?

You know what does that? Winning.

Really, this entire column is focusing on something secondary considering IU has run a clean ship since Glass, void of cheating and scandal.

But the theme of style without substance has just become annoying.

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