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Due to some unpleasantness in the past, I will start with a disclaimer. The men and women who attend the Naval Academy are amazing young people who deserve our respect and thanks for undertaking an assignment that eventually could lead to the ultimate sacrifice.
So anything that follows is not about the Navy. It’s about Navy — and Indiana — football.
Simply said, if a major college football team wants to have a good season, they need to beat Navy.
Indiana did not, and I’m sure Hoosiers’ fans continue to be devastated by the 41-35 loss on Saturday in Bloomington.
In my eyes, they should be.
Sure, Navy presents an unusual challenge to any team it faces because of its option offense. Yes, it was something different from what the Hoosiers will see all season. And, absolutely, Indiana did a face plant the size of an aircraft carrier.
Four-hundred and forty-four yards rushing? Yikes.
No forced punts? Bleck!
The perception that Indiana will once again develop into a Big Ten doormat? Right on.
Certainly this comes off as knee-jerk, doomsday, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately pessimism.
It was only a week ago even I was patting Indiana coach Kevin Wilson on the back for a great start to the season with an overwhelming win over Indiana State.
The image flashed in front of our eyes of a packed Memorial Stadium with the Hoosiers earning a bowl berth. Five straight home games to open the season and eight home games overall made it more than spring training euphoria that a bowl was possible.
When I used to cover Cal (Berkeley) football, the fans there had a saying after the Golden Bears would yank defeat from the jaws of victory. Same old Cal.
Same old Indiana.
If that annoys anyone associated with the program, good. Jeff Tedford came into Cal with the same kind of criticism and did something about it. He started winning.
So, please, no whining about being beaten by a team that is unusual or has more wins against BCS teams in the past however many years than any other non-BCS team.
Last year, Navy lost to Notre Dame 50-10, Penn State 34-7 and Arizona State 62-28. Its wins were over VMI, Air Force, Central Michigan, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Texas State and Army. Oh, yeah, and Indiana.
In 2011, Navy’s wins were over Delaware, Bowling Green, Troy, SMU and Army.
Last season’s win over Indiana was its first over a Big Ten team since 1979. It was its first home win over a Big Ten team since 1926.
Here’s the deal: Indiana should have better personnel than Navy. The defensive linemen should be able to blow up the option, at least at times, by penetrating into the running lanes. If the defensive linemen are doing their job, they should be getting clear shots on the quarterback, which would wear him out.
The Hoosiers should have gotten a stop, somewhere, somehow, to let their prolific offense get the job done. They didn’t.
So if the crowd isn’t quite to Indiana’s liking on Saturday against Bowling Green, the Hoosiers should do something about it. Prove that Saturday’s nightmare loss was just a momentary setback on a program that had shown signs of moving forward. Take care of business and get back on the bowl track.
Earn a full house, and everyone’s respect, as a major college football team.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 379-5632.
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