Knight, Randle El and a tradition of putrid football

Bob Knight once denied me an autograph as a young child.

Visiting my uncle Joe, an Indiana law professor, and my cousins in Bloomington, Ind., my family and I went to a Bloomington High School North basketball game, where I confronted the surly IU basketball head coach.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Wide-eyed me: “Are you Bob Knight?”

Knight: “Yes.”

Cute little me: “Can I have your autograph?”

Knight: “Ask again after the game.”

And, of course, after the game:

Adorable, harmless me: “Mr. Knight, can I please have your autograph?”

Knight: “No.”

And I’ve disliked Indiana ever since.

I suppose I should clarify — I don’t dislike the school itself. Bloomington is a great town with a great setup. I’ve spent time on campus (a nice place), at the inferior Assembly Hall (still a nice place) and at the far, far inferior Memorial Stadium (not a nice place).

But I have never, and will never, root for their sports programs.

I’m familiar with the ups and downs of Indiana athletics over the past 15 years. I’m well aware of Indiana’s basketball history and recent embarrassments. I remember how incredible Antwaan Randle El was as a quarterback, well before he threw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl — as a receiver.

As we all know, IU football has been in the Dark Ages since I was born (1989). Since then, the Hoosiers have had four seasons with seven or more wins.

To put it bluntly: I’ve only ever known Indiana to suck at football. And this year is no exception.

Don’t let the Hoosiers’ 4-2 record fool you. They nabbed W’s against some pretty pathetic teams: Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State — and nearly lost to Arkansas State.

If that’s not enough evidence, let’s take a look at how IU fared against Ohio State (which, in Indiana’s defense, is a solid team) and Michigan (which, unfortunately for Indiana, is shaky).

We’ll start with Ohio State. This one’s too easy. Indiana gained just 69 yards on the ground and 141 through the air, while Ohio State had 130 rushing yards and a whopping 348 passing yards.

The Buckeyes walloped on the Hoosiers so bad that Ohio State’s nine penalties for 105 yards wasn’t enough to make this game even close, as the Buckeyes walked away with a 38-10 win.

Next, Michigan. Yet again, Indiana failed to rush the ball effectively, gaining just 88 yards. The Hoosiers were bailed out by their passing game, which netted them 480 yards, but their defense allowed a balanced Michigan attack to gain 574 total yards. A one-sided offense and a weak defense can only carry you so far — like four-win seasons far.

I don’t expect Indiana to beat Illinois. The Illini have been shaky at times this year, but Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning should be able to send enough pressure at Hoosiers quarterback Ben Chappell to win the game.

A Hoosier loss would surely help keep the world right and Indiana on its path to another embarrassing year of sub-.500 football.

Alex Iniguez is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @alexiniguez.