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For Indiana State, matchup with PSU is all about the money -- and its candid coach isn't afraid to admit that

August 31, 2011 - Cory Giger
Little schools play big schools for money. Big, fat paychecks.

Like $450,000, which is what I-AA Indiana State will cash in for coming to Penn State and taking a beating Saturday.

All of this is no secret to anyone who follows college football.

It's rare, however, for a coach or administrator at the little school to be so brutally candid about the typically taboo financial topic.

"We schedule these games for money for the athletic department," Sycamores coach Trent Miles said Wednesday.

"It's Penn State," he added, "and we're getting on that plane, we're going there and we're going to fight all we can and play the best we can and collect our money and come back home."

Miles might sound a bit cavalier and callous, but if any coach in the country has such a right, it's him.

Indiana State's football program was a train wreck a few years back. And that's being polite.

"When you go 2-62, there's usually not much confidence floating around," Miles said.

That's right, 2-62, or even worse, 1-57 before snapping a 33-game losing streak.

Can you imagine the mental toll and frustration of losing 57 out of 58 football games?

Why even have a program?

Indiana State almost didn't.

The Sycamores had a minuscule football budget, had been prohibited from recruiting outside the state of Indiana and were struggling so badly that several top administrators wanted to get rid of the program altogether.

"Money. Money. It's all about money. It's money," Miles said of the school's shut-it-down rationale.

A change in administrative personnel and thinking brought a renewed emphasis on athletic spending, and so the football program was saved.

"Even when they interviewed me for [the job]," Miles said, "they talked about there was a strong push to drop the program. ... That talk is dead. That's not going to happen. At one point it was."

Miles, who played at Indiana State from 1982-86, took over the Sycamore program in 2008 and went 0-10.

"When we first got here we had six offensive linemen on the team, including walk-ons, five defensive linemen on the team, including walk-ons, no fullback, no tight end," Miles said. "So we had 38 players in our first spring, and we had to take TV timeouts after six, seven, eight plays to rest the linemen to be able to have a scrimmage."

The Sycamores went 1-10 in 2010, but their 17-14 victory over Western Illinois on Oct. 24, 2009 must have felt like a gift from the heavens because it finally ended their 33-game skid.

Given where the program had been, what occurred last season sounds like miracle work on behalf of Miles and his staff. Indiana State went 6-5 in 2010, finally washing away the stench of that putrid 2-62 stretch.

"What it did was give us some confidence," Miles said of last year's resurgence. "That was the biggest thing that was lacking here."

That and money.

"It all comes down to the money," Miles said.

Things are better on the recruiting front, too, as the in-state restriction has been lifted and now Miles and his staff can recruit players from all over.

"If you're lining up playing with all Indiana kids, it's very difficult because there's not that many people that live in this state," Miles said. "Football has gotten a lot better, but it's still not known as a football powerhouse, so if you can't recruit out of state to mix in with some of your in-state kids, you're in trouble. But that's been fixed."

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