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‘We have to get rid of this softness in order to stalk complacency’: Curt Cignetti details offseason plan for Indiana football



Indiana football head coach Curt Cignetti
Curt Cignetti is ready to 'get rid of the softness' surrounding the Indiana football program and that starts this spring. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

‘Stalking complacency’. That’s the mission of new Indiana football head coach Curt Cignetti. But, in order to get to that point, there are numerous steps that need to be taken before. And, it starts first with Indiana’s ability to grow this spring.

Spring practice begins March 21, the first time this coaching staff can get their hands on their new roster. And, there’s a clear goal in the next two months in the strength and conditioning program that Cignetti is looking for.

“We’ve been in the offseason workout program for three days and a lot of the new guys are kind of thriving in it, and there’s certain position groups of the returners that are thriving in it as well,” Cignetti told Don Fischer this week. “But, there’s certain position groups that are a little soft and there’s some softness in this place that we need to eliminate.”

Eliminating the softness has been a consistent message from Cignetti ever since he was introduced as the head coach in December. That was highlighted in the first 20-days on the job leading up to the early signing period.

“It’s been a whirlwind really. I would call this 20 days of fourth and one,” Cignetti said during his National Signing Day press conference. “I’m living in a university house a couple blocks from town. I have not seen town during the daylight yet. I leave in the dark. I get home in the dark. It’s been a lot of 4:30, 5:00 a.m. mornings till 10:30, 11:30 at night. Was even in the office 12:30 one night. Haven’t done that since 1986. But it was crunch time. It had to be done.”

“You get here and you got 10 offensive starters in the portal, 25 total, you have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time,” Cignetti told Fischer. “But, we got some momentum going around day five and then it just picked up and we brought in close to 30 mid-year guys … I think we changed the look of the roster, the look of the team and I’m excited about getting going.”

Indiana football brought in 25 players on National Signing Day and then added seven players shortly after James Madison’s bowl game.

Since then, there have been five more to officially sign.

“I’m in it to win and winning’s not a bad word even though some people think it is,” Cignetti said. ” … I really like the way we changed the roster here in December leading into January and excited to see what that looks like. When you’re in a situation like Indiana the last three years, the more new faces you can bring in – guys from programs who have been productive as players but come from winning programs as well and think a little differently, they can influence the guys who are returning and that’s a great thing.

“Now you end up with two kinda guys here — one with a chip on your shoulder and want to prove to people that they can get it done. You want to keep those guys. The guys who have sort of succumbed to defeat, failure, negativity, blame, finger pointing, given up along the way. You’re glad they’re in the portal. The portal makes it easy to change the roster, but you better thrive in it to stay in the business and be successful.”

Changing the mindset of the program starts and ends with the roster over-haul. Cignetti is used to this part of the process. In his 13 years on the sidelines, he’s never had a losing season. That included total rebuilds when he took over the Elon and James Madison programs.

Cignetti is 119-35 in his coaching career. He’s won five straight conference titles.

So, he’s not new to a rebuild and he has his ‘process’ that he’s expecting to translate to the Indiana football program. And he’s not letting anything step in the way of that — and winning.

“Improve every day. It’s a process. We are process oriented,” Cignetti said. “Be where your feet are. Focused positive energy … get the information from the meeting, maximum the meeting. Maximum every rep. One play at a time. One rep at a time. Get in the habit of playing one play at a time in spring ball and fall camp so you’re playing that way in the game.”

” … But before we worry about stalking complicity, when you win all the time, making sure you’re not feeling too great after all these wins. We have to get rid of this softness in order to stalk complacency.”

SEE ALSO: ‘We’re gonna play a physical brand of football’: New Indiana Football DC Bryant Haines shared some insight about what’s to come

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.