Indiana Signs Lynch To A 4-Year Deal

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Bill Lynch got his dream job, and Indiana finally got some stability in its football program.
Nine days after the Hoosiers completed their most successful regular season in 14 years, the interim coach was rewarded Monday with a four-year contract.
Athletic director Rick Greenspan said he did not interview anyone to replace Lynch, who coached this season under a one-year deal after coach Terry Hoeppner's death in June from complications of a brain tumor.
Indiana finished 7-5 for its most wins since 1993, and the team is likely headed to its first bowl game since that same season.
"I think when you're an Indiana kid and you're a coach, I think this is your dream, to coach at Indiana," Lynch said.
Lynch, who was fired from Ball State in 2002 after going 37-53 in eight seasons, was the Hoosiers' top assistant during Hoeppner's two years as coach.
Lynch not only had to keep the team together after Hoeppner's death, he had to keep players and coaches focused during a roller coaster season, which included a three-game losing streak in October that nearly derailed their bowl hopes.
The Hoosiers became bowl eligible by beating Ball State on Nov. 3 and then used a 49-yard field goal from Austin Starr with 30 seconds left to defeat their biggest rival, Purdue, on Nov. 17, which all but assured them of a bowl bid. It was Indiana's first win over Purdue since 2001.
"People told me the last few years that beating Purdue is pretty important," Greenspan said, drawing laughter. "If you're asking me if that cemented it, I'd say I've had very positive feelings about coach Lynch leading this team for a long time."
But it still took more than a week to make the announcement, leaving some to wonder whether the Hoosiers had conducted a search. Greenspan acknowledged he had read up on some potential candidates, but said he didn't interview anyone else.
"I did the due diligence, but I felt in Bill's case that he had an interview that lasted about nine months," Greenspan said.
Lynch will earn about $250,000 in base salary and about $350,000 more for his television appearances, camps and speaking engagements. The contract also includes standard bonus clauses for postseason appearances and about $50,000 in deferred payments.
Lynch is the fourth Hoosiers coach this decade, following Cam Cameron, fired in 2001; Gerry DiNardo, fired in 2004; and Hoeppner.
Players gave Lynch a standing ovation when they were told of his return during a team meeting Monday morning.
"Every good thing takes time, and I'm excited," cornerback Chris Phillips said. "We didn't talk about it much, but it was always in the back of our minds. We just wanted to win games and let it play itself out."
Former Hoosiers star Anthony Thompson, the 1989 Heisman Trophy runner-up, embraced the move to retain Lynch.
"Coach Lynch brings a lot of continuity to the program, and he's really a man of character and integrity," he said. "I think it's very important to have continuity because these kids have been through a lot emotionally and he knows how to get these kids to play hard."
Hoeppner's widow, Jane, was among those attending Monday's announcement and called the decision an extension of her husband's legacy.
"Those are our assistant coaches and they are like my family," she said. "I'm just so happy for all of them. I'm beyond thrilled, and this was absolutely the right thing to do for Indiana University and for the program."
Lynch was made interim coach June 15, after Hoeppner took a medical leave. Four days later, Hoeppner died from complications of a brain tumor.
Lynch's resume doesn't read like a typical Big Ten coach.
After being fired from Ball State, he spent the 2004 season as the coach at Division III DePauw. He then joined Hoeppner's staff in 2005 as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.
In 14 seasons as a coach at Ball State, Butler and DePauw, Lynch was 81-67-3. He played quarterback at Butler and was the Hoosiers' quarterbacks coach in 1993 and 1994.
Lynch replaced Hoeppner during each of his three medical absences and filled in for two games -- both losses -- when Hoeppner had his second brain surgery in September 2006.
Lynch said he was looking forward to continuing Hoeppner's progress.
"I think really, really good things are ahead because we've got good football players coming back," Lynch said. "I think there's a buzz out there about Indiana football, going to a bowl game, and this takes us to the next level."

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