By THOMAS BREW
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — NIL is drastically changing the landscape of college football, widening the gap between the haves and have nots, with a sprinkling of subsets in between. The high-stakes recruiting world has been flipped on its head.
For Indiana, a football program that has lost more games than anyone and hasn’t won a Big Ten Conference championship in 55 years, trying to compete in this new world is a massive challenge. It’s always been difficult — some would say impossible — to win recruiting battles for high-end talent with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and the others.
That we already know, and have known for decades now.
The Hoosiers have had two consecutive years of their best-ever recruiting classes, benefiting from 8-4 and 6-1 regular seasons in 2019 and 2020 under effervescent coach Tom Allen. They had the 30th-ranked recruiting class in 2022 — and, yes, the fact that this is the highest ranking in school history says a lot about the problem — with the prized piece of that class being Dasan McCullough, a 6-foot-5 edge rusher with a telling football pedigree and an NFL future.
Indiana had to recruit him several times, first in high school in Kansas and then in Bloomington when his family moved here. His father, Deland McCullough, brought the family to Indiana after leaving the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs to join Allen’s staff as a running backs coach. Dasan, who was committed to Ohio State at the time, flipped to Indiana.
His older brother — Deland II — transferred from Miami of Ohio, and his younger brother Daeh committed to Indiana, too. It was a great family story, all of the McCulloughs together at Indiana.
Allen and his staff had to re-recruit him several times, including after his father moved north to Notre Dame for a better job after just one year at Indiana. They did it again after his younger brother de-committed and again after two years of great Indiana football turned into a brutal 2-10 season in 2021.
McCullough, a four-star recruit with the highest ranking in school history, came anyway.
He had a great freshman year despite the Hoosiers going 4-8, making some freshman All-American lists. And so, in this new NIL world, after the season was over, Indiana needed to recruit him all over again.
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