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Indiana St. rebounds after snapping losing steak
Question of the Day
The Terre Haute native started his coaching career here, wound up making stops at Oklahoma, Green Bay, Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington before finally coming home.
When he arrived, players were skipping practice and weight lifting just because they could, and they seemed to put a higher premium on partying than football. Those who did show up worked out when the soccer teams were not. Memorial Stadium hadn’t undergone a single renovation in nearly four decades, coaches were scrimping on meals to stay within the $50,000 recruiting budget and those being recruited recounted tales about nails coming through the field’s Astroturf.
“When I first got here, we were in the old locker room and you’d shower with four inches of water at your feet,” said Obaseki, a senior.
Miles insisted he could win at Indiana State if he could change the mindset, the roster and get more support from the administration and community. He kicked more than three dozen players off the team, and the school came up with nearly $2.75 million to replace the flooded locker room.
“The new locker room is top of the line,” Obaseki said. “We went from having nothing to having a lot.”
Administrators didn’t stop there. They spent an estimated $250,000 to add a remote camera system to record practices, splurged on a new scoreboard, complete with a video screen, and an ex-football player who owns a local construction company donated his time to help put in a new grass practice field. Miles raised roughly $500,000 to add a field that allowed the football team to practice on its own schedule.
The total cost came to roughly $4 million and the benefits have been bountiful. Morale is up and Miles has more leeway to recruit out-of-state talent.
“In the past, we were only funded for so many out-of-state scholarships,” Miles said. “Our philosophy is that we’re Indiana State, so we’re going to recruit in-state kids first. But we border Illinois, Ohio has great football, St. Louis and Atlanta aren’t that far away, so we’ve got other areas where we can recruit very good football players and now we can do that more easily.”
Miles didn’t go far to find the cornerstones for this rebuilding project.
Obaseki, a 6-3, 260-pound defensive lineman, played high school ball in nearby Washington, Ind. _ a school better known for producing the three Mr. Basketball-winning Zeller brothers.
Bell hails from Warren Central in Indianapolis, which has produced dozens of Division I players over the last decade and had so much talent Bell couldn’t crack the starting lineup until his senior season. Because he was undersized at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds and virtually unknown until he rushed for 3,105 yards in 2009, Indiana State got its chance to convince the state’s 2009 Mr. Football runner-up to risk everything by choosing the Sycamores.
All Bell wanted was a chance to be part of something big.
“Coach Miles told me everything was changing and that he had just kicked about 45 guys off the team and that it would be a great place for me to come and display my talents,” Bell said. “Plus, I wanted to be a part of history.”
In 2011, Bell led the FCS in yards rushing and broke school records for most yards in a season (1,670) and a game (256). He was rewarded with the MVFC’s offensive player of the year award and was the first sophomore ever invited to the Payton Award ceremony in Dallas.
This year’s plan is to take a much larger contingent with him back to Texas.
By John McAfee
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