IU football coach Tom Allen introduced Rod Carey on Wednesday.
A Madison, Wis. native, the 52-year-old Carey takes over for the outgoing Walt Bell.
Today we empty out the notebook on Bell’s departure, Carey’s history, and what to expect going forward.
Housekeeping: Walt Bell’s Buyout
The Daily Hoosier obtained a copy of Walt Bell’s contract when he was hired in 2022. The term runs through the end of 2023, meaning Bell’s buyout is relatively insignificant. He’s owed approximately $58.3 thousand per month through the end of December, for a total buyout of around $175 thousand.
Carey is a Permanent Hire
While he’s stepping in mid-season, Carey does not have an interim label.
Of course if Indiana’s offense continues to struggle through the end of the season, all bets are off. And despite his own $20 million buyout, Allen will face questions about his status if the Hoosiers do not pick up some wins over the final seven weeks of the season.
Indiana’s Winston Wolfe
In the movie Pulp Fiction, Winston Wolfe was the guy who stepped in and solved problems.
Carey has become the guy Allen looks to when there’s a existential issue in his program. As we’ll discuss later, Carey was that guy at Northern Illinois too.
Most Indiana fans will remember Carey also stepped in a year ago midseason as the offensive line coach when Allen fired Darren Hiller. The line did improve when Carey took that role. But he went back to his quality control position in December when Allen hired Bob Bostad as the offensive line coach.
Carey has a long history with IU football. He played for the Hoosiers from 1990-93, where he was a three-year starter at center and won IU’s Corby Davis Outstanding Offensive Player Award his senior season.
No Overhaul to the Offense
While he’s got some time because IU doesn’t play this weekend, Carey doesn’t have the luxury of a full offseason to install a completely new offense. He said on Wednesday the plan is accentuate what’s working and flush what isn’t within the confines of the current offensive system.
“There’s nothing you can do midseason as far as setup. The setup is the setup, the offense is the offense,” Carey said.
“What you’re trying to do is get us to run those plays better and maybe do it with a little different flare here and there. That’s about all you can do. I’m excited about it and I think the guys are, too, being with the offense the last two days and the offensive staff. We’ve had flashes, so we need to make those flashes more permanent light on type deal.”
Carey’s Track Record
While he doesn’t plan major changes to the IU offense, this isn’t the first time Carey has stepped in to the OC role midseason. And the last time he did it, he delivered a major success.
When it comes to the OC role, Carey first held that title at the University of Wisconsin-Stout from 2000-06.
He later joined the Northern Illinois staff as an offensive line coach in 2011, and added run game coordinator duties before the 2012 campaign. He took over as offensive coordinator following the team’s first game that same year.
Under Carey’s leadership in 2012, the NIU offense rose to ninth nationally in scoring (40.8 ppg) and rushing (250.2 ypg) and 15th in total offense (485.8 ypg).
Carey eventually became the head coach at NIU at the end of that same 2012 season after Dave Doeren took the North Carolina State job and vouched for Carey to be his successor. So Carey went from offensive line coach, to offensive coordinator, to head coach in one season.
During his time as the NIU head coach, Carey led the Huskies to four Mid-American Conference division titles, two league championships and the 2013 Orange Bowl. That Orange Bowl game was his first contest as the team’s head coach — just another time when he stepped in to solve problems.
It’s at difficult times like right now when IU fans retreat to familiar defense mechanisms about being a basketball school, tired refrains about the need to invest more in football, and the new reality of NIL.
Of course anyone who covers the Big Ten knows there’s no such thing as a basketball school, and a quick survey of the college football landscape highlights that further. Here’s a current look at how some of college basketball’s traditional powers are doing on the football field thus far in 2023:
- No. 14 North Carolina: 4-0
- No. 19 Duke: 4-1
- No. 20 Kentucky: 5-0
- No. 25 Louisville: 5-0
- Kansas: 4-1
Yes, some of those programs have shiny new facilities, but some don’t. Some are planning new facilities following success on the field, which is the more typical path. But the common denominator seems to be turnarounds led by coaching staffs.
And of course people were writing the same thing about Indiana in 2020, when the Hoosiers were sniffing the College Football Playoff. But gone are key figures like Kalen DeBoer, Kane Wommack and Michael Penix, Jr.
It turns out stability might just be the most difficult thing to achieve in college football. And so begins the Rod Carey offensive coordinator era at Indiana.
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