Ex-coach Mallory relishing Indiana's improvement

Ex-coach Mallory relishing Indiana's improvement

Few people are enjoying what could be Indiana's breakthrough football season more than former coach Bill Mallory.

Mallory finished his career in 1996 as the Hoosiers' winningest coach and still lives in Bloomington. He's familiar with second-year coach Kevin Wilson, his son Doug is the co-defensive coordinator and he goes to practices and home games.

Mallory said he sees in Wilson - who in 2011 became the Hoosiers' fifth coach in 14 years - a leader capable of winning consistently at a place where winning seasons have been few and far between.

``I do believe,'' Mallory said this week. ``I've got a great passion for this school and this program. I definitely want to see it succeed and feel very strong it's going to.''

The Hoosiers (4-5, 2-3) are coming off back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time since 2007. If they knock off Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2) in their final home game Saturday, they would gain the inside track to representing the Leaders Division in the conference championship game. Ohio State and Penn State, the teams ahead of the Hoosiers in the division standings, are ineligible to play in the game.

The 77-year-old Mallory said he tries to contain his excitement, revert to his coaching ways and look at the Wisconsin game as just the next one on the schedule.

Mallory acknowledges it's more than that.

``If they could finish out with a winning season and get to a bowl, that would be great,'' he said. ``That would be a great plus and something you can build on.''

Mallory remains invested in the program. He shows up at every Tuesday and Wednesday practice and will pop in on Thursdays if he's not playing golf. He talks to Wilson and the assistants regularly but is no meddler.

``He never says anything unless you ask,'' Wilson said. ``He just loves the smell and sound of being around it.''

Mallory said he's optimistic for a few reasons. First, he likes the way Wilson goes about his job and how he stays upbeat in what is one of the nation's most challenging places to coach football. Mallory also likes the commitment shown by school president Michael McRobbie and athletic director Fred Glass.

The North End Zone Student-Athlete Development Center opened in 2009 and houses the football program and one of the largest weight rooms in the nation.

Indiana's recruiting classes still rank at or near the bottom of the Big Ten, but Wilson is getting more talented prospects to give the Hoosiers a look. Thirteen players have pledged to the 2013 class, including three four-star prospects. Two of those four-stars are from Indiana.

``The state of Indiana plays a lot better high school football than sometimes people realize, and they're really hitting this,'' Mallory said. ``We made a living off this state. A lot of good coaches and players come out of here and Kevin knows it.''

Indiana long has been a basketball school - the Hoosiers are No. 1 in the preseason poll - with football almost an afterthought.

Mallory said things are in place to become good in both sports.

``We're serious,'' Mallory said. ``We want to make it a go.''

Indiana has been playing football since 1885 and in the Big Ten since 1900. Wilson is the 28th coach, and only six of his predecessors had winning records. The Hoosiers have had only 12 NFL first-round draft picks since 1936 and none since 1994.

The 1945 team coached by Alvin N. ``Bo'' McMillin won the school's only outright Big Ten championship. The 1967 team under John Pont started 8-0 and lost to eventual national champion Southern California in the Rose Bowl. The Hoosiers had only one more winning season until 1979, when Lee Corso coached them to a Holiday Bowl win over BYU.

Mallory came along five years later to start his 13-season run. Mallory's teams account for six of the school's nine bowl appearances.

The Hoosiers had only five winning seasons in almost 40 years before Mallory arrived. But after a 0-11 start, Mallory went 64-49-3 in the next 10 years. He was the Big Ten coach of the year in 1986 and `87.

When athletic director Clarence Doninger announced Mallory's firing after eight games in 1996, he said Mallory was a victim of his own success. The six bowls came in a span of eight years, and expectations rose.

His 2-9 record in 1995, followed by a 2-6 start in `96, cost him his job.

Mallory's 68 wins are an Indiana record. So are his 75 losses.

Cam Cameron followed and never had a winning record in five years. Gerry DiNardo won a total of three Big Ten games in three years. Terry Hoeppner was 9-14 in two years. Bill Lynch took the Hoosiers to the Insight Bowl in 2007 and then won three Big Ten games the next three years.

Wilson went 1-11 and 0-8 last year. He started 46 different players, including a Bowl Subdivision-high 12 freshmen.

This year he has only three senior starters. Still, the Hoosiers have scored 24 or more points in each game this season and 10 straight overall, a school record. They've score more points in nine games than they did in 12 last year. They lead the Big Ten in passing and kickoff returns and are second in total offense.

Outwardly, Wilson downplays the Hoosiers' progress.

``But I think down deep he's excited with what he's seeing and the improvement being made,'' Mallory said.

Mallory said Wilson is dealing with success the way the coach of a long-struggling program should.

``You don't get satisfied because when you get satisfied, that's when you level off, and when you level off you go downhill,'' he said.

``When you're in the process of building a team like he is, and like back when I was involved here, it's something you build on.''

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”


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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!