BLOOMINGTON – The football glory is for later. This much is hoped for in Cream 'n Crimson circles.
Indiana's spring football event, an alternate-reality game with 12-minute quarters (for a half, anyway), the ability to score field goals during quarter breaks and the appearance of Jon Gruden, the former NFL head coach, current ESPN analyst and, once upon a time, IU ball boy, offered toned-down insight for next season.
For the record Thursday night, the Crimson beat the Cream 42-36 in overtime thanks to Alex Rodriguez's winning four-yard TD run.
In the big picture, that was as relevant as Memorial Stadium's former Knot-Hole Park, which has been replaced by a huge dirt hole as construction continues for the South End Zone project, set for a fall of 2018 completion, although don't tell that to the Crimson squad that celebrated the win — and a future steak dinner.
The Hoosiers under new head coach Tom Allen and new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord hope to resurrect the success from the Bill Mallory days, and Gruden, for one, is convinced it's not just possible, but inevitable.
“This is a very interesting place,” Gruden said. “I don't think Indiana has won a bowl in 25 years (it was 1993). I can't remember the last time they've had a winning season (it was 2007). That's changing.
“I have this feeling. I'm pretty good at forecasting events in football. I want to see the beginning of it.”
Gruden was around Thursday night as an honorary coach with his father, Jim, a former IU assistant coach under Lee Corso in the 1970s.
“I'm really intrigued by Coach Allen and this program,” Gruden said. “I want to be part of it.
“Coach Allen is interesting. He's intense. He's a defensive guy who has gotten results everywhere he's been. He's a great fit for IU.
“Having Coach DeBord on the offensive side of the ball and Coach Allen on the defensive side of the ball is unique. They are very experienced and thorough game-planning coaches who can adapt on a daily basis.”
Adaption came Thursday night without frills. The game was televised on BTN and IU coaches weren't about to give their season-opening opponent, Ohio State, any hint of what was coming.
Still, the fact that the game went to overtime, the fact that Allen had officials change a call that negated a big-pass play (thus setting up the overtime-forcing touchdown), was exactly what Allen had in mind.
“I wanted to create as many game-like situations as we can. To me, that was perfect. There was a call that set up the touchdown. I told (officials) to re-evaluate the call.
“I want to put us in tough spots. I want to create that adversity, create that stress on coaches and players. See how we respond.
“That's where we want to be. We want to finish those games. When it is the fourth quarter and the call goes against us, you've got to flush it and play the next play. It's about mental toughness and developing us.”
Development included freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who made an early case for winning the starting quarterback job next season over veteran Richard Lagow. In the first quarter he was 5-for-5 for 59 yards. He threw for one touchdown, ran for another as Team Crimson led 14-7.
Then, in the second quarter, defensive back Jonathan Crawford intercepted Ramsey and returned it for a touchdown.
Except … it was called back by defensive off-sides.
Meanwhile, Lagow produced the first score with a 24-yard TD pass to receiver Simmie Cobbs, who is back after missing last season with an injury.
Ramsey then came up with touchdowns on the next two Crimson possessions. He scored on an 11-yard run, then threw a 23-yard TD pass to tight end Ian Thomas that followed Rashard Fant's interception of Lagow.
Then came a bunch of field goals and missed opportunities.
By halftime Crimson led 20-19. Unofficial stats had Lagow 18-for-31 for 181 yards and an interception. Ramsey was 8-for-11 for 75 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and one rushing TD. Austin King was 2-for-4 for two yards.
Second-half rules were changed to eight-minute quarters and a running clock. It featured some trick plays and another Ramsey touchdown, this one for 10 yards to Taysir Mack.
Then more field goals were made in the break between the third and fourth quarters. That gave the Crimson a 36-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
A 69-yard trick play got the Cream in position for the tying touchdown, which they converted along with the two-point conversion.
That led to overtime, a Crimson win, and a wrap to spring practice.
“The tempo was good,” Allen said. “We're a tempo team. We want to be aggressive. We want to be attacking on offense and attacking on defense. That's the way we train.”
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