News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Indiana State University

October 26, 2013

FROM THE PRESS BOX: Injuries, tough schedule have led to Sycamores' slide

TERRE HAUTE — No one saw this coming.

On the final October weekend of 2012, Indiana State’s football team was 7-2 and a Football Championship Subdivision playoff bid seemed a mortal lock.

One year later, ISU is 1-7. Shakir Bell, far and away ISU’s most recognizable player, is gone via bizarre circumstance. And the Sycamores are on the wrong end of final scores that are reminiscent of the bad old days of 2005-09.

The biggest difference is Mike Sanford is the head coach instead of Trent Miles. And for many fans, that will be difference enough to explain how it’s all gone wrong.

When you lead a college football program, fair or unfair, you absorb the slings and arrows, and no doubt, they’ll be coming down with ferocity on Sanford and the athletic department given the present state of the team.

ISU fans can’t be faulted for trying to compute how this season went so wrong and why the program has taken a step backwards after three straight winning seasons. They’d be foolish not to.

There are legitimate reasons. The loss of talent, particularly defensive standouts, from the 2012 season have hurt.

Rampant injuries — especially on the defensive side — have played the biggest role, and while the time-worn trope that injuries are part of football will be trotted out, the truth is that the injuries have played a major role in ISU’s fall.

On the other hand, (some) newcomers haven’t lived up to their billing and some of the schemes tried on both sides of the ball have not worked. Some starters, including some veterans, have not produced at a level they have in the past.

ISU found ways to lose close games early and the accumulation of all of the above have led the Sycamores into a very dark place indeed.

ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman hired Sanford. Like everyone else, he never expected ISU football to be in the state it’s in. But he knows he has to answer for it.

Prettyman did after Saturday’s 56-10 loss to No. 1 North Dakota State.

“I take a lot of the blame for what’s going on and that’s because we set our new coach [Sanford] up for failure,” Prettyman said. “We have arguably the toughest schedule we’ve ever played. We had two Big Ten teams. We’ve had four top 25 FCS teams and five home games in a 12-game schedule. We’ve had incredible injuries, more than I’ve ever seen. We didn’t give our coach a chance to be successful. Part of that’s my fault.”

Prettyman gave no indication that Sanford’s job was in jeopardy, not only because of the 1-7 start, but due to some of the off-field distractions that came to a head this week.

“I’m committed to seeing this through. I have a great relationship with coach Sanford and I have a lot of confidence in him. I’ve never seen a staff care about their student-athletes as much as this staff does on and off the field,” Prettyman said. “Certainly we didn’t think we’d be 1-7. Three times we’ve outgained teams that had more points than we did. I still believe we’re capable of being very good and win games.”

Given the injuries, Prettyman said he told Sanford earlier this week that he felt like his starting unit from 2015 was on the field instead of the intended 2013 team.

Of course the problems that come with a 1-7 start go well beyond just wins and losses. The ISU and Terre Haute communities are not renowned for their ISU football enthusiasm in the best of times. The damage to attendance and to potential revenue from boosters from ISU’s poor season cannot be taken lightly. Saturday’s crowd was 5,009 on a day the school was shooting for 10,000.

Prettyman was asked whether he was concerned about the impact the 1-7 campaign could have in terms of enthusiasm for the football program.

Prettyman was blunt in response.

“Intelligent fans will understand what’s going on. The fly-by-night fans, the people who never come to games, the people who don’t watch how hard our kids play, the people who don’t know our coaches, the people who are not committed to this are going to second-guess a lot of things that are going on,” Prettyman said.

“The people who are fully committed and have gotten to know our coaches and have seen the commitment from our kids though adversity, they’re still on board,” Prettyman said. “People can quit coming to games all they want, but that’s not going to make our kids, coaches or administrators work any less hard.”

“I can’t speak for the people who decided they’re going to get off the bandwagon because they’ll get right back on as soon as we start winning,” Prettyman added.

The strange Shakir Bell situation added gasoline to ISU’s fire. Bell claimed he was dismissed, Sanford said it was a season-ending injury, but regardless, the he said-he said distraction didn’t help ISU’s cause no matter where the truth lies.

Bell’s end was unceremonious to be kind. Bell has earned the right on-the-field to be called one of the best Sycamores of all-time. He was certainly marketed that way. His end is a body blow the program didn’t need in an already challenging situation.

“I wish Shakir Bell well. I think he has a future in the game. When I met with him this week, I told him I hope to see him in a NFL uniform next year. I told him he needs to take the time to work through his injuries and get a degree from Indiana State University,” Prettyman said.

Prettyman shed light from his perspective on how Bell’s exit came about.

“Essentially what we did was dismiss him from responsibilities with the team from here on out. We worked with the trainers and doctor and they agree his foot was a season-ending injury. That had a lot to do with the decision for him not to continue,” Prettyman said.

No matter how ISU football got to this place it’s in a position where circling the wagons is the only option.

“I go back to thing I have the most pride in — our athletic department and that’s the people we have. The coaches, the assistants, the trainers, the doctors, I want people like that leading our people in our program,” Prettyman said.

Prettyman is going to need to call on the good will on those people — and ISU fans — to get through a very tumultuous time for ISU football.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 208-2643 or Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Indiana State University
  • SPT 080114 PERISH THROW.jpg First-day vibe better for Sanford in second year

    If you believe in omens, day one of year two of the Mike Sanford era was much kinder to Indiana State than his debut fall practice was.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • ISU football picked last in MVFC

    Indiana State’s football team found itself in familiar, if depressing, territory when the Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason poll was released on Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Degano2.jpg Bullpen mates: Three relievers coming on strong down stretch for Rex

    The Terre Haute Rex pitching staff ranks fifth among the 12 teams in the Prospect League in earned-run average this season and first in the league with only four home runs allowed all summer. But the Rex pitchers might be the best in the league the past two weeks as the team has had two shutouts and two games with one run allowed in the past week.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prettyman wants ISU to be prepared for potential NCAA changes

    Against a rising tide of media, public and institutional sentiment that would suggest otherwise, Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman believes that the current model of college athletics still works.

    July 26, 2014

  • SPT 102613 UNDER TACKLE.jpg Can Sycamores bounce back from rough 2013 season?

    One week before Indiana State begins preseason practice, there really is only one fundamental question that the Sycamore program faces.
    Can it win again?

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ISU basketball trio earn national academic honors

    A trio of Indiana State basketball student-athletes have been named to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court as announced by the national organization. Honored from Indiana State were Lucas Eitel, Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell.

    July 23, 2014

  • Metro roundup: Post 346 rallies past Rockville

    Wayne Newton Post 346 scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to get past Rockville 6-3 in an American Legion baseball regional at Terre Haute North on Wednesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Truebytower.jpg Memorable experience in Morocco for ISU soccer team could help team's growth

    Coming off the best season in its history, the Indiana State women’s soccer team figures to have the experience to do even better in the upcoming fall season.
    Or maybe that’s #TheExperience.

    July 23, 2014 11 Photos

  • Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco

    Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.

    July 18, 2014

  • MVC to shift women's basketball tournament to Moline, Ill.

    The Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament will move 90 miles farther from Terre Haute beginning in 2016, the league announced Thursday.

    July 17, 2014

  • Metro: ISU-IU football game to be on ESPNEWS

    Indiana University announced Wednesday that the season opening game between Indiana State and IU will be played at noon on Sept. 30.

    July 16, 2014

  • Odum heads for Vegas with Kings summer team

    Terre Haute native Jake Odum scored three points in the Indiana Pacers’ 84-74 victory on Thursday over the Miami Heat in the Orlando Summer League.

    July 11, 2014

  • odum.jpg Odum has 5 points for Pacers in summer play

    Former Indiana State standout Jake Odum contributed five points, three assists and a steal in 15 minutes on the court Wednesday for the Indiana Pacers summer league team.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • MVC Tournament staying in St. Louis until 2018

    Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament staying in St. Louis until 2018.

    July 9, 2014

  • Odum scores 2 points off bench for Pacers

    Three of the top picks in last month’s draft are adjusting to NBA at different speeds at the Orlando Pro Summer League.

    July 7, 2014

  • SPT062714dans gardner1.jpg Gardner staying sharp with Danville

    This summer with the Danville Dans is a big one for Terre Haute native Cody Gardner, who wants to play a part in keeping Indiana State baseball successful in 2015.
    The former Terre Haute North High School standout painfully sat and watched as a Division I transfer as ISU made its ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 35-win regular season.

    July 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Metro: ISU’s Wise starts out well in USATF championships

    Indiana State sprinter Katie Wise advanced to the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters as she ran 11.42 seconds in the opening heat of the event Thursday evening at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.

    June 27, 2014

  • SPT021914ISUMBB odum.jpg ISU's Odum talks about agreeing to play for Pacers' summer-league team

    No team selected him in the two-round NBA draft Thursday night, but Terre Haute native and four-year Indiana State basketball standout Jake Odum agreed Friday to play for the Indiana Pacers’ summer-league squad next month.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • SPT 030914 ODUM FILE.jpg Steady success: ISU continued to climb ladder with one of its best overall seasons ever

    First of all, if you’re an Indiana State fan, stand up and applaud. The Sycamores collectively went where only one Sycamore athletic department went before in 2013-14. ISU finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy standings. ISU recorded a score of 3.538, its highest in school history.

    June 25, 2014 6 Photos

  • SPT021914ISUMBB odum.jpg Jake Odum about to reach red letter date in his career

    Terre Haute’s Jake Odum made a name, a reputation and a wonderful career for himself during his four seasons at Indiana State. If nothing else were to happen in his basketball life, he’ll always be one of the Sycamores’ all-time best.
    Of course, Odum wants more. He wants to play in the NBA. Since ISU’s season concluded in late March, he’s been on a three-month quest to fulfill his dream.

    June 24, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Metro roundup: Odum to work out with Lakers

    Terre Haute native and former Indiana State guard Jake Odum will have two more workouts before next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Odum will work out with the Los Angeles Lakers today. Odum will have a second workout with the Orlando Magic next week before the draft.

    June 20, 2014 1 Story

  • ISU takes balanced approach with newcomer Tre Bennett

    Indiana State’s men’s basketball program recruited Tre Bennett to be its next starting point guard. Indiana State does not want to put too much pressure on Bennett in his first season.
    Those two sentences seem to be a contradiction. But ISU’s coaches and Bennett himself are hoping there’s a third way, a path where he can ease into a role as a contributor without the pressure, at least right off the bat, of being “the man.”

    June 18, 2014

  • SPT061214 ISUMBB parker.jpg New ISU coach Parker makes first impression

    Indiana State assistant coach Terry Parker hasn’t had too much time to make a first impression.
    Officially hired in late April, but identified as Dave Ragland’s replacement on Greg Lansing’s staff long before that, there haven’t been many team activities for Parker to take part in since he joined ISU’s staff from Utah Valley.

    June 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Greggmar Swift advances to NCAA hurdles final

    Greggmar Swift advanced to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles to highlight Indiana State’s performances during day two of the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.

    June 13, 2014

  • Katie_Wise_(Credit_Chris_Zoeller).jpeg ISU taking mix of veterans, underclassmen to NCAAs

    With three sophomores among Indiana State’s record number of entrants heading to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, the Sycamores are in position to have athletes competing for a national title for at least a couple more seasons.
    Katie Wise, in particular, has the potential to rack up multiple All-American accolades between now and the time she graduates in 2016.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pair of Sycamores selected in Major League Baseball draft

    Two Indiana State baseball players were chosen in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft Saturday.
    Senior shortstop Tyler Wampler, a 2010 graduate of West Vigo High School, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round (519th overall) and junior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went to the San Diego Padres in the 27th round (807th overall).

    June 7, 2014

  • SPT041113lutz point.jpg Ex-Sycamore Lutz begins NFL journey with Colts

    The end of the journey. Or, really, just the beginning. That's how former Indiana State center FN Lutz described his emotions after signing a free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday morning.

    June 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Metro roundup: Rex opener postponed to today

    The Terre Haute Rex grand opening has been pushed back to today due to Monday’s thunderstorms.

    June 2, 2014

  • SPT 053114 LANDON CURRY FLY.jpg ISU baseball can't find lifeline

    Indiana State ends NCAA regional with 0-2 mark as its season ends.

    May 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT 053114 MITCH HANNAHS.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone

    ISU coach Mitch Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Hispanic Caucus Slams GOP for Border Bill Shifts Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Rare Whale Fossil Pulled From Calif. Backyard Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake'
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010