News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

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 todd.golden@tribstar.com. Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • NCAA settles head injury lawsuit

    CHICAGO (AP) — The NCAA has agreed to settle a class-action head injury lawsuit. 

    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

  • Tom Reck: Experience came out on top Sunday

    Sunday was a very good day  fFor Jeff Gordon, who won the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won the first one and really doesn’t look much older today.

    July 29, 2014

  • Colts Camp Football_Tayl.jpg Colts waive running back Rainey

     What a difference a couple of days make.  After Saturday's morning training camp practice, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was effusive in his praise of running back Chris Rainey. But on Monday, the Colts surprisingly announced that Rainey had been waived after violating an unspecified team policy.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Reed gets promotion, hits homer

    Look out Midwest League. A.J. Reed is coming and he’s bringing the long ball with him.

    July 29, 2014

  • Colts Camp Football_Tayl(1.jpg Colts camp: Defense shines in workout

    There was a change in the Indianapolis Colts training camp schedule Monday as the team had just one practice instead of the usual two.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Post 346 motivated to win state … even if it doesn’t have to

    As it has in so many past seasons, Terre Haute’s Wayne Newton Post 346 baseball team is headed to the American Legion state baseball tournament.
    Unlike the other seven teams that will begin play at Plymouth tomorrow, Post 346 knows it will live to play another day regardless of the results up north.

    July 29, 2014

  • Metro: Rex maintain pace in West race

    The Terre Haute Rex maintained pace in the tight Prospect League West Division race with a 2-1 victory over the Springfield Sliders at Robin Roberts Stadium.

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT 072714 JONES WHOA.jpg It’s not unusual ... that Tom Jones wins his ninth city title on the green, green grass of home

    Tom Jones is the 2014 Show-Me’s/THGA men’s city champ.

    July 28, 2014 6 Photos

  • Gordon proclaims mastery of Brickyard for 5th win

    Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard had proclaimed it Jeff Gordon Day in Indianapolis on Friday. It turned out to be prophetic as Gordon made history winning a fifth Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

    July 28, 2014

Local Interest
SPT 072614 TOM JONES LEADER.jpg

Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterLeader: Tom Jones is leading going into Sunday's final round of the Men's City Championship at Hulman Links on Sunday.

High School
College
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

  • 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

Sports Columns
Pro Sports
Colts Camp Football_Tayl.jpg

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, right, laughs with running back Chris Rainey during an NFL football training camp in Anderson, Ind., Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Terre Haute Rex
Degano2.jpg

Colts
Colts Camp Football_Tayl.jpg

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, right, laughs with running back Chris Rainey during an NFL football training camp in Anderson, Ind., Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Auto Racing
AP Auto Racing News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Today in History for July 29th Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth
Parade
Magazine

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

activity
Real Estate News