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New head of Hoosiers talking big

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | AUGUST 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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Kevin Wilson is sick of Indiana's football program being the butt of jokes.

Dominic Zaccagnini and Jack Trudeau, the hosts of the Indianapolis radio show "Zakk & Jack," found that out the hard way.

Wilson, Indiana's first-year head coach, made an appearance on the show on Aug. 11. While he was being introduced, the hosts played the Indiana fight song. Trudeau, a former Illinois and Indianapolis Colts quarterback, said, "When I played Indiana, we didn't hear this song very often because I don't even remember them scoring against us."

Wilson then joined the show and immediately went on the offensive. He said the hosts were "media guys" who "don't have a clue" and recalled scoring 61 points against Trudeau's alma mater as a player at Northwestern. Zaccagnini then asked if Wilson was "already trying to get rid of" the radio hosts.

"Very much so," he said. "I don't have time to listen to guys talk about fight songs and Indiana [having] no tradition … Every year is a different year, every season is a different season. I just don't like guys cracking jokes about our program."

The on-air clash signaled an attempt by Wilson to change his program's culture and perception in his first year on the job.

The former Northwestern and Oklahoma assistant said leaving behind Indiana's unsuccessful history — the team has played in just nine bowl games, one since 1994 — would be a step in the right direction.

"It's all about the future moving forward, and it starts with me," he said last month at Big Ten media day. "I have no issues in complaining, or what should have been done, or why things happened in the past … We should do well. We expect to do well. To me, the culture changes with our performance."

A key to improving that performance is to fix the team's defense. The Hoosiers allowed 34 points and 410 yards per game last season — and surrendered 83 points to Wisconsin. Wilson has a background as an offensive assistant, but he brought in Mike Ekeler from Nebraska and Bill Mallory from New Mexico as co-defensive coordinators.

Ekeler shared Wilson's desire to move forward and leave behind the program's struggles.

"What happened in the past here, we have nothing to do with that," he told the *Indianapolis Star*. "We really like our defense. I like our chemistry and that starts with the head coach. Offensive coaches sometimes don't have that swagger, but he does."

There are challenges on offense as well, including finding a replacement for graduated quarterback Ben Chappell. Wilson said there are five players competing for this season's starting spot.

But the future of the position looks bright. Gunner Kiel, Scout.com's top-ranked quarterback in the class of 2012, orally committed to Indiana last month.

Wilson said he doesn't plan to wait for next year's recruiting class to make the Hoosiers competitive, though, and his fiery demeanor is resonating with his players.

"He's just very motivating," wide receiver Kofi Hughes told the *Indianapolis Star*. "It just gets you excited listening to him. You want to go to meetings because you want to hear what he's going to say next."

Follow DI football reporter Sam Louwagie on Twitter.


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