The Indiana University football team accepted a bid to play in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 26 against Duke at Yankee Stadium. IU coach Kevin Wilson and his players talked about ending the Hoosiers’ eight-year postseason drought.
Q. What is the key to preparation so you go there fully prepared?
COACH WILSON: “You want to win the game. The greatest bowl experience is the victory. It’s not the ring. The watch is going to break. I still got my Blue Bonnet Bowl sweater from 1980, first one. I got ‘em all. Got every T-shirt, every hat. They sit there and collect dust.
“But I can tell you some games … You remember, to me, the ultimate is the game experience. It’s nice to get the reward, but ultimately as a program and competitor, it’s about the game. You just want to get prepared to give yourself a chance to go win.”
Q. You have a chance to get some guys back?
COACH WILSON: “Yeah, I think so. You got Danny Friend going out there, Andre Brown. Yeah, we’ll see. Some of those guys have been hurt long enough, they could get a medical. Danny Friend can get a medical and go a sixth year. I don’t know if guys want to play college football for six years, especially when you’re lifting and squatting and running. We’ll talk to some of those guys.
“Jordan Howard had a knee scope. We were trying to get through the game. The deal was, we thought we might go through Purdue, then scope him, get him back for the bowl game. Well, when he came to Maryland, we sped it up a week. We’ll see what his timeline is. I don’t know anything about that. The thought process would be he might, could.
“At the same time, he’s a great player, a lot of things to consider. We’ll be smart there.
We have other backs. You guys don’t talk about it, but the line and tight ends block good and helps the running game a lot. The runners are good, but we ran it good.”
Q. Does it help in recruiting to know about a contract extension?
COACH WILSON: “Well, it helps in recruiting that they know you’re going to be at a place. That’s always something. But it’s not my decision. It’s the administration’s. Like I say, our deal is we keep trying to do everything we can to make the team better every day, whether it be program development, academic development or right now recruiting.”
Q. Talk about your connection with Duke in terms of them being a rival when you played at North Carolina?
COACH WILSON: “That’s a good deal because, like I say, I’ve been fortunate to be at places. It’s the same deal. A guy a few years ago took me to a Carolina-Duke basketball game. I’m a Carolina guy. This guy was a huge Duke alumni guy. Took Coach Stoops and myself and the AD, go up into Coach K’s office, see the facility. If they won, we were going to get a chance to go in the locker room after the game. Even though I’m a Carolina guy, I’m like, ‘This is cool, I’m all in. I want to go see Coach K and his guys.’
“I appreciate how great that program is and how great that school is. I have a lot of respect for Duke. What Coach Cutcliffe has done is one of the premiere jobs in the country. It’s no accident what he’s done. It’s going to be a strong, strong test. But I got a lot of respect for their program.”
Q. Whenever we talked about bowl games the last five years, you mentioned it, is young guys getting those extra practices, the ones that maybe aren’t going to play this year or redshirting. How much more can they get out of this?
COACH WILSON: “It’s huge. We’re making recruiting decisions right now based on looking at practice. That comment was made today. Where are you going to week? I’m going to X school. Why? Well, if this guy ain’t ready, I need to go get me one of those, whether it be high school or junior college. It gives you an opportunity to build your team, gives you an opportunity to eval your team.”