The clock is ticking and Kevin Wilson can't ignore it. Blame his football DNA. When you're a football coach by profession, the Indiana coach in particular, waiting for another chance isn't fun.
So here we are in late May, spring practice a month in the rear view mirror, preseason camp just over two months away, and Wilson bides his time like a race horse chewing on a bit.
“The excitement of next year builds,” he says. “You have a biological clock as a coach. By the end of July, you get mad at everybody. You get tired of things and want to get the season going.
“We'll get everybody cranked up. We're excited to have made some progress.We have to show it on the field during the season. We have a lot of work to do yet.”
The necessity of work is obvious when you come off a 1-11 debut season that ranks among the worst in a program with a long history of bad seasons.
This is why, when talking about the state of his program, he says, “There's a chip on our shoulders. We have something to prove.”
In part they'll prove it with a couple of Fort Wayne guys, Bishop Luers graduates Lawrence Barnett and Kenny Mullen. Both are defensive backs with significant roles looming.
For now, though, the Hoosiers must wait until June begins and players return to campus for classes and offseason workouts.
Waiting is relative, because recruiting never waits.
“This is a good time of year,” Wilson says. “We're in a window where we're recruiting for next year. We sent everyone home for a four-week break. They'll come back for summer school and a lifting session. As a coach this is a time you can catch your breath and get with your family.”
As far as the team, Wilson says progress is being made.
“We have a lot better understanding of what we can and can't do. Who we can or can't trust.
“The real deal now is our guys have been to war. They got exposed. They know what they can and can't do. They got a chance to see their weaknesses. How do you manage that?”
As far as recruiting, IU's 18-player class ranks 52nd nationally according to Scout.com, a national Internet recruiting service. While that ranks ninth in the Big Ten, just ahead of Wisconsin and just behind Purdue, it's solid by Hoosier standards. Wilson says it's probably the best class Indiana has landed in recent years.
"We have a (newcomer) class coming in that will help us with some guys. We'll see. We don't promise guys they'll play.
“We've added some junior college players. They have a nice, positive vibe they bring to us."
As far as spring practice, Wilson says, “Defensively we were significantly better in tackling. We understand our defense better. Some subtle things with alignments and coverages and getting cats in the right spots.”
IMPORTANT TIP: You never want to have cats (Wilson's term for his players) in the wrong spots.
Wilson has a few football rules to live by. For instance, he won't turn down walk-ons. He told fans in Indianapolis that, “You can't win the Big Ten with walk-ons, but you can practice better.”
He also told fans, in so many words, that today's high school athletes don't read newspapers. They just go to school, hang out, and get social on social media, in part to meet girls.
Also, he says the IU program is much more solid in his second season that it was last year. That includes that staff. Last year several left before spring practice even started. Now, he says, assistants are passing up $200,000 raises to stay.
Finally, if you're wondering about Nebraska in the now 12-team Big Ten, IU will get the Cornhuskers on the schedule in 2015 and 2016.
The last time they played, it didn't go well for the Hoosiers. They lost 69-17 in Bloomington in 1978.
IU plays at Nebraska in 2015 and will host the Cornhuskers in 2017.
Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota will rotate off the schedule in those two seasons.
The Hoosiers lead the all-time series with Nebraska 9-7-3.