Indiana's season finale this week at archrival Purdue could have significant implications for Hoosiers fourth-year coach Bill Lynch.
Or it could not.
Athletic director Fred Glass hasn't made any big public declarations about Lynch's status -- like he did last year -- and has said he will evaluate the coach and the program at the end of the season. While Glass might have already made up his mind about Lynch, it's not a stretch to suggest the AD is waiting to see how Indiana performs this week at Purdue.
Glass previously has talked about the importance of honoring contracts, and Lynch has a year left on the deal he signed in November 2007 after guiding Indiana to its first bowl appearance in 13 years. But in the current climate of college football, coaches entering the final year of their contracts almost always get extended or get canned. It can really hurt recruiting to let things stand pat.
(Indiana, by the way, has 21 players verbally committed for the 2011 class, which could help Lynch's cause to be retained.)
"His support has been unbelievable," Lynch said of Glass at today's news conference. "We've had a great relationship and everything that he's said has been exactly what it's been throughout the year. He's been as supportive as can be, week-by-week."
Glass clearly doesn't want to fire Lynch, but it's no secret why he might have to.
Indiana is 2-21 in Big Ten since Lynch received his extension. The Hoosiers are the league's only winless team in conference play heading into Week 13.
Sure, Indiana has been close to a lot of wins, but close doesn't cut it after a while.
Will a win against a banged-up Purdue team to reclaim the Old Oaken Bucket be enough for Lynch to save himself? Tough to say. It certainly wouldn't hurt.
This much is clear: Indiana players know the situation this week, and they're definitely in Lynch's corner.
Quarterback Ben Chappell: "I think you feel kind of personally responsible because we’re the guys who are playing. I think he’s done a great job of getting us prepared every week. We’ve said this a lot where it’s come down to very few plays where if one of us steps up and makes a play, we have some different outcomes. That’s obviously tough, but I have the ultimate respect for coach. I love playing for him, and I'd do anything for him.”
Linebacker Tyler Replogle: "We've been trying to win for Coach Lynch all year. We talk as players all the time. We love Coach Lynch. We want to go undefeated for him because he means the world to us. But you try to win for him every week, and I think that’s what we've tried to do. If there’s anything left that we can give more, we're going to try to."
If the players can hoist the Bucket on Saturday, they might buy Lynch some more time to get things on track.
I think you feel kind of personally responsible because we’re the guys who are playing. I think he’s done a great job of getting us prepared every week. We’ve said this a lot where it’s come down to very few plays where if one of us steps up and makes a play, we have some different outcomes. That’s obviously tough, but I have the ultimate respect for coach. I love playing for him, and I’d do anything for him.”