BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana athletic director Fred Glass promised to pay the going rate for a new football coach.
A seven-year, $8.4 million contract did just the trick.
On Tuesday, the Hoosiers introduced Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson as their new, high-priced guy. Wilson is Indiana's sixth coach since 1996 and easily the best-paid.
"Shoot, we're going to build something special here and it starts with me," Wilson said. "We're going to be tough, we're going to be physical, we're going to put up a lot of points and when you're going against Coach (Bob) Stoops every day, you learn how to play great defense and we're going to have a great defense."
Hoosiers fans have heard all these bold promises before.
What they want are results.
Glass believes that going all in with Wilson, a highly touted assistant coach who has only one year of head coaching experience on his resume — 1989 at North Carolina's Foard High School, will deliver more wins.
"I had to go out and find out if he had it, and I felt almost as soon as I met him that he had it," Glass said Tuesday, emphasizing the word "it." ''One of the things I was looking for was someone with head coaching experience or someone who could be a head coach. I ended up focusing on guys who had done it on the big stage."
Wilson brings a broad variety of traits to Bloomington.
He knows what it takes to win in the Big Ten after spending three seasons with the late Randy Walker at Northwestern.
He worked on the same staff at Miami (Ohio) with the late Terry Hoeppner, the revered Hoosiers coach who died of brain cancer in June 2007.
He is familiar with Midwestern recruiting circles, going back to his days when the area was his recruiting responsibility as a graduate assistant at North Carolina from 1984-86.
He's been a position coach for every spot on the offense except receivers and he's called plays for Northwestern's fast-paced spread offense and Oklahoma's high-scoring multiple offense.
He coached a Heisman Trophy winner in Sam Bradford and now, after winning the 2008 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant, Wilson finally has his own head coaching gig.
"I think it's time, and I think it's been time for a while, it just hasn't been the right place," Wilson said. "And my job got so good, you just don't want to leave (Oklahoma). I was looking for the right place where we could win, where it would be a tremendous challenge and a place where my family could live."
Apparently, Bloomington fit those requirements.
But turning around this program won't be easy.
Bill Mallory has more wins (69) than any Hoosiers coach in history, and no Indiana coach has produced a career winning percentage over .500 since Bo McMillin left in 1947.
Lynch did what he could, leading the Hoosiers to their first bowl game in 14 years in 2007. Then came three straight losing seasons and three one-win Big Ten seasons, which culminated in Lynch's firing Nov. 28. The Hoosiers finished 2010 at 5-7 (1-7).
Wilson, who met briefly with Indiana players Tuesday, has a plan to change that reputation. Heck, he's even looking forward to playing Big Ten newcomer Nebraska even before the two schools are scheduled to meet in 2013.
"We could play them in the conference championship," Wilson said. "If they're good enough to win their division in the next two years."
What Nebraska, and other Big Ten schools, will likely see is some version of the Oklahoma offense that piled up an NCAA record 716 points in 2008.
If that happens, well, Glass will know he made a good investment.
To make the deal work, Glass said the university renegotiated its marketing deal to get more guaranteed money, which will go directly into the football program. University President Michael McRobbie also agreed to dedicated more money to the football program from the school's annual share that comes from the Big Ten Network.
That should give Wilson the ability to build whatever kind of staff he wants in the next several weeks.
The 49-year-old North Carolina native should have a solid offense next season.
If all-conference receiver Tandon Doss returns for his senior season, the Hoosiers would have seven of their top eight receivers back. Indiana's top runner, Darius Willis, should be healthy after having knee surgery and three of the five starters on the offensive line could be back, too.
Wilson will have to find a new quarterback after two-year starter Ben Chappell graduates.
Those who know Wilson think he'll get the job done.
"He's a great coach, I'm really excited for him getting this opportunity," said Indianapolis Colts tight end Brody Eldridge, an Oklahoma alum. "All of the IU fans should be excited."
Especially if he starts winning games.
"We have some seniors here and they're not looking for a three or four-year process," Wilson said. "They want to win now, and we're going to get this thing going as fast as we can."Comment on this story
Wilson plans to spend most of the next several weeks in Bloomington, getting to know players, recruiting and putting together his staff.
Stoops issued a statement congratulating Wilson on his new job and said he would decide later this week or early next whether Wilson will coach in the Fiesta Bowl.
"Our offenses have been effective because they're multiple and dynamic, and yet loyal to the basic football principles of being fundamentally sound," Stoops said. "He'll have a solid plan for the football program there and the dedication to carry it out."
The new coach was joined at the news conference by his wife, Angie; his five children, who range in age from 7 to 14; Jane Hoeppner, the widow of Indiana's former coach; and Mallory, one of Randy Walker's mentors at Miami.