BLOOMINGTON, IND. (AP) - After a promising start, Bill Lynch’s tenure as Indiana coach ended with the Hoosiers in their familiar spot at the bottom of the Big Ten.
Lynch was fired Sunday with one year left on his contract, a day after Indiana reclaimed the Old Oaken Bucket from Purdue to earn their only conference victory in a third straight losing season.
“My view was that, given the circumstances of the last three seasons, that extending the contract was not a viable option,” athletic director Fred Glass said. “It would send the wrong signal of what merited an extension at Indiana University.”
Players insisted that Lynch wasn’t the problem.
After Saturday’s 34-31 overtime victory at Purdue, Indiana’s first win in West Lafayette since 1996, senior quarterback Ben Chappell acknowledged Lynch took most of the blame for the failures of the players.
But that wasn’t what Glass had to consider.
He saw Lynch’s 19-30 record over the past four seasons, three conference wins in three years, the failure to reach another bowl game after his first season and the likelihood that other coaches would use Lynch’s uncertain future against him in recruiting over the next year. That gave Glass three options: Extend Lynch’s contract, let him fulfill the final year of the deal or start over.
When the Indianapolis attorney took over as athletic director in January 2009, he said Indiana needed to make a stronger commitment to honoring contracts. In August, Glass again offered support to Lynch when he told reporters at the Big Ten meetings that Lynch had the program moving in the right direction.
Three months later, he reversed course.
“My experience is that a lot of things, the right thing to do is often times the hardest thing to do,” Glass said. “Unfortunately, this is one of those times.”
Lynch took over as interim coach in 2007 after coach Terry Hoeppner died from complications of a brain tumor and led the Hoosiers to their first bowl bid since 1993. This was supposed to be his best season since then.
During an interview last summer, Lynch looked and sounded like a confident man, explaining that “I’ve done this a long time, and when you do it long enough, you know the difference between a good football team and one that has holes.”