Big Ten

Indiana AD vague, says 'philosophical differences' led to Kevin Wilson's resignation from Hoosiers

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Indiana AD vague, says 'philosophical differences' led to Kevin Wilson's resignation from Hoosiers

Philosophical differences. Apparently that's what brought Kevin Wilson's six-season tenure at Indiana to an end on Thursday.

After reports of Wilson's firing filtering in throughout the day Thursday, Indiana athletics director Fred Glass announced Thursday night that Wilson resigned from his position not a year after agreeing to a six-year contract extension in January.

Glass was incredibly vague throughout his lengthy press conference, alluding solely to general disagreements he and Wilson had over the leadership of the football program. Wilson will receive his base salary of around a half a million dollars over the next year but won't get anywhere close to the approximately $11 million left on his recently extended deal.

Succeeding Wilson not in an interim role but as the new permanent head football coach of the Hoosiers is defensive coordinator Tom Allen, who did a great job transforming a formerly paper-thin defense into a solid unit in just his first season with the program. Glass said Allen has a six-year deal as the new head coach.

Reports Thursday indicated the situation involving Wilson might have been a replay of the one that played out a year ago in Champaign, when Tim Beckman was fired as the head football coach at Illinois after an investigation into that program found support for claims that Beckman mistreated his players by forcing them to play while injured and holding an inappropriate amount of influence over the training staff.

Glass didn't do much to directly respond to those reports during his press conference but did emphasize that an outside law firm did take a look at the Indiana program and found no medical wrongdoing and that the program's medical staff was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing, seemingly dismissing the idea that Wilson was doing the same kind of things Beckman was at Illinois.

Glass said there was no "smoking gun" or "precipitating event" that led to the separation between Wilson and Indiana. Glass did make some comments that might've been in the ballpark of condemning an old-school approach to coaching, one Wilson was described as having by outside observers Thursday on social media. But that could also be reading into something that's not there.

Glass failed to move beyond the "philosophical differences" line, saying that issues between him and Wilson he thought were behind them — enough so to give the coach a six-year contract extension less than a year ago — bubbled up again recently.

The mention of "a pretty good run" seemed somewhat flippant considering Wilson was taking the Hoosiers to places they hadn't been in more than two decades. Indiana punched its ticket to a second consecutive bowl game with a win over rival Purdue last weekend, something this program hadn't done since 1991.

But again, Glass pointed to differences in the approach to leadership being the sticking point here, not football.

The end of an increasingly successful era for a program that has historically not experienced much success at all on the field perhaps stemmed from a not much more than a frayed relationship between an athletics director and a head football coach.

Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

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Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

While Saturday's trip to the Twin Cities featured some more of the same for the Fighting Illini, it marked important step in Lovie Smith's rebuilding project.

Freshman quarterback Cam Thomas, a Marian Catholic product, saw action for the first time in his collegiate career, Smith busting out a new option at the game's most important position. Thomas threw a nasty pick six, but he did lead Illinois in rushing in a 24-17 loss at Minnesota.

Thomas only made four throws, completing two of them and landing a third in the hands of a Minnesota defender, but his play injected a bit of excitement into what's looking like another dreadful season of Illinois football, with Smith's team falling to 2-5 through the first seven games of his second season at the helm of the program. Thomas mostly starred with his feet Saturday, rushing for a team-high 79 yards in the defeat.

His first appearance came following the first of the Illinois' defense's three takeaways. Thomas ran for a nine-yard gain on his first carry, and the Illini tied the game with a touchdown on the next play. Thomas was interchanged with starting quarterback Jeff George Jr. from there on out.

While the Illini defense kept the Gophers at bay for much of the day thanks to those three takeaways, P.J. Fleck's team had no trouble racking up rushing yardage, finishing with a whopping 292 rushing yards. Minnesota engineered a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter exclusively running the ball to break a 10-all tie and go up 17-10.

Thomas threw a pick six on the very next play from scrimmage, sending the Gophers up 24-10 to effectively seal the deal. George led an Illinois touchdown drive on the next possession, but the Illini couldn't make up the suddenly big gap in the limited amount of time.

Illinois finished with only 282 yards of offense. George was 18-for-23 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Ra'Von Bonner carried the ball 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The defeat dropped the Illini to 2-5 on the season and 0-4 in conference play. One of just two teams without a Big Ten win (Indiana is the other), Illinois faces off against a top-10 Wisconsin team next weekend.

Big play from Justin Jackson sets up Northwestern's overtime win over Iowa

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Big play from Justin Jackson sets up Northwestern's overtime win over Iowa

Justin Jackson is one of the top 10 rushers in Big Ten history for a reason: He's very, very good at this football thing.

But it was a big play Jackson made not as a ball-carrier but as a pass-catcher Saturday that set up Northwestern's second straight win, a 17-10 takedown of Iowa in Evanston.

Jackson took a pass from quarterback Clayton Thorson and went all the way down to the 1-yard line, picking up 23 yards and shedding multiple tacklers on the game's biggest play.

Two plays later, Thorson plunged in for the go-ahead score. Iowa failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt on its ensuing overtime possession, ending it with a dropped pass that finished the game.

The game's result rapidly altered the social-media conversation, which moments prior had been mighty critical of Pat Fitzgerald, who made a controversial decision at the end of regulation.

Iowa tied the game at 10 on a field goal inside of two minutes to play, forced to kick after a false start was committed on fourth and 1. Fitzgerald had a minute and a half and two timeouts to try to get his own team into field-goal range for a shot at a win but instead ran the clock out and headed to overtime.

Fitzgerald explained after the game that the blustery wind at Ryan Field played a big role in that decision, plus his team had a long way to go against an Iowa defense that played well throughout the game.

Northwestern's defense was very strong, too, holding Iowa to 312 total yards, only 89 of which came on the ground. Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley was also picked off in the second half for the game's only turnover.

Jackson finished with 93 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards. Thorson was 21-for-36 passing the ball for 192 yards. Backup running back Jeremy Larkin scored the Wildcats' lone regulation touchdown.

The win improved Northwestern to 4-3 on the season and 2-2 in Big Ten play. After a 2-3 start, the Cats have won back-to-back games and take on a ranked Michigan State team next weekend.