What the Pinstripe Bowl Actually Means to Indiana University


Year after year we get more and more bowls and they seem to lose their importance.  As the names get more obscure, and the competition levels decrease, many are left to question the actual value of some of these games. This year, the Pinstripe Bowl is different. It means something. Especially to Indiana. More than you can ever imagine.


Indiana University is a school that is largely defined by its traditions.  Everything done by the athletic department comes in comparison to how things were done in the past.  The basketball team specifically finds historical comparisons on a daily basis.  For a school so highly connected to history, Indiana hasn’t been in a bowl game since 2007.  They haven’t won a bowl game since 1993. These things matter.  They matter a lot to this fan base.


This bowl game means pleasing a fan base that has lost much hope.  It almost seems that Indiana Football has forever been connected to negativity.  If a game is tied late in the second half, don’t ask an Indiana fan what the expected result will be, because the answer will almost always be an Indiana loss. This bowl game is about appeasing these fans.  Just a small bone that is more than needed.


Something that has been a bit surprising for Indiana has been the amount of national exposure they have received.  After playing on ABC multiple times this season, the Pinstripe Bowl will be another opportunity to display this program on a national stage.  The Pinstripe Bowl provides some legitimacy to this program that has and will continue to be used in recruiting. Just over the past two weeks Indiana has secured the signings of the #2 JUCO quarterback in the country Richard Lagow, who is very likely to compete for the starting job this upcoming year, and Coy Cronk, an offensive tackle rated as the #13 player in Indiana by 247sports

Nov 21, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Indiana Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson walks onto the field during the third quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium. Indiana Hoosiers defeated Maryland Terrapins 47-28. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana has pivotal potential recruits that will be making decisions quite soon.  These potential recruits aren’t just some simple role fillers, but strong program builders.

According to 247sports:

Jovan Swann is a 3-star defensive tackle rated as the #9 player in Indiana.

Desmond Fitzpatrick is a 4-star wide receiver from Michigan that has offers from Michigan and Nebraska

Malik Harrison is a 3-star athlete considering offers from schools of the caliber of Ohio State and Wisconsin

Collin Miller is a 3-star linebacker rated as the best linebacker in the state.

These recruits care about the Pinstripe Bowl. The ability of Kevin Wilson to present IU’s football program as a legitimate program is crucial to them.


With all of this said, the most meaningful part of the Pinstripe Bowl is the indication it provides of the direction this program is going.

Yes, Indiana beat four extremely weak non-conference opponents, but in my opinion, that’s how you make up for being in the best division in college football. Any SEC nerd that wants to argue otherwise doesn’t understand that Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State are all in the same division. Not to mention that IU had to play Iowa.

This bowl game confirms what we have all been watching.  It confirms that Indiana University is on its way to becoming a formidable Division I football program, and quite possibly a football school.

And some may back away from that mentality and continually want to deny it because of how long Indiana has been bad, but to those individuals I must ask: why don’t you choose to believe?

This school was built to be a football school. This fan base is ready for a winning team. No more leaving at halftime. Yes, more sold out Ohio State-like crowds.

There’s a reason tickets were $10 against Ohio State.  Fred Glass forgave profits then in order to make it easier to build the IU fan base now while he can.

Now, what makes me say this is not just some whimsical overly optimistic epiphany.  It’s understanding that the only way to build a formidable football program is to slowly build momentum, to embrace the small victories, and continue to build on the weeks beforehand.  Everything that Fred Glass and Kevin Wilson have done has been calculated towards building. There is a plan, and winning this bowl game, in New York City, in front of a national ABC audience, the day after Christmas, is a part of that plan. Even just being in the game is a part of the plan, as a major building point for the future.  Just look at how the Kevin Wilson era all started.

When Fred Glass was in search of a coach for this football team, he looked at two possible options:

1) A head coach at a mid-major level, that knows how to run his own system but in a not so prolific way. At best, an average coach with an average program.

2) Or, hire a coordinator that has seen teams at the greatest level in College Football.  This option needs time to develop and grow into a potential DI power. Such is the learning curve of shifting from a coordinator role to the head of a program.

Kevin Wilson is an offensive genius that knows greatness.  He just needed time.

You saw that learning curve when IU went 1-11 in his first year. The Hoosiers then went 4-8 and 5-7 in the years directly after.

The start wasn’t strong, but he was building something.

Indiana historically is at the bottom of the conference in recruiting, but in the five years Coach Wilson has been at IU, he has been edging IU higher and higher in the recruitment rankings.  But he hasn’t been doing it with 5-star or 4-star big names, because that is nearly impossible without any talented product on the field to promote.

Indiana has been bringing in 3-star, 2-star guys that never got that offer from Michigan or Ohio State.  Guys that have the heart to play the game with everything they have.

Just look at some of the most influential players on this team:

Tegray Scales was the 21st member to Coach Wilson’s 2013 recruiting class.  He was a 3-star linebacker from Ohio. He was interested in Iowa, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oregon, and even his home team, Ohio State, but never got offers.

Marcus Oliver, 3-star Junior linebacker from Ohio.  He had an interest in all the same schools, but only two offers, IU and Miami (OH).

Chase Dutra, 3-star safety from Indiana. His only other offers were from Indiana State and Western Michigan.

Simmie Cobbs, Devine Redding, Zander Diamont, and even Nate Sudfeld were all guys that were overlooked in High School.

Even look at freshman Safeties Jonathan Crawford and Jameel Cook Jr.   Cook Jr. was a 2 Star recruit.

They are all 3-star, 2-star guys that know how to play.

Practically the entire IU defense is returning next year.  Given their expected development and Kevin Wilson’s offense, this thing can get even better.  Progress is here and this bowl will help continue that progress.