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Inspirational Reads

Good-bye, Hep

June 19, 2007

I've never made it anything but abundantly clear that I'm a Notre Dame football fan. I've often referenced the strange phenomenon that happens in northern Indiana every fall, when people turn their Notre Dame football sweatshirts inside out and they magically become Indiana basketball shirts. I'm guilty of this, as well. I attended Notre Dame for graduate school, but I was a lifelong Indiana fan. As such, I've followed both schools major sports pretty faithfully over the years, including the "off sports" for each institute, which would be Notre Dame's basketball and Indiana's football programs.

Well, today, Indiana's football program took a serious shot to the stomach.

Terry Hoeppner, the head football coach at Indiana, died of complications due to tumors in his brain this morning. He was 59.

Indiana used to have some pride in its football program, back in the Bill Mallory days. Then came a time when it seemed everything went to basketball. When IU hired Hoeppner away from Miami (OH), it seemed that they were ready to shake the dust off a program that had grown stagnant over the years. He was exactly the kind of man that IU needed as a head coach: charismatic, outgoing, exciting, and loved Indiana football. Indeed, this past season, IU was tantalizingly close to a bowl game, which would have been its first since the Eisenhower administration (actually...I think it was since 1993). Interest in Indiana football had suddenly become posh once more in the southern part of the state, and season ticket sales were on the rise, among alumni, students and the general public. Higher level recruits were actually answering the phone when IU called. Changes to the facilities and to the stadium were planned and underway. A lot of this was thanks to Hep's energy and charisma. IU might not have become an overnight powerhouse, but it was taking the necessary steps toward shuffling off the doormat moniker that has plagued it in recent years.

And now, IU nation has taken a shot to the gut. The recruits and players are all, understandably, dazed, as the people around the program are, too. I do suspect, especially with the naming of Bill Lynch (I believe that's his name) as the interim head coach this past weekend, that AD Rick Greenspan and others expected this to happen--perhaps not so soon, but they probably expected it to happen. Whether expected or not, it's a sad day for IU nation, and my heart goes out to them.

Here's hoping for a good season to remember Coach Hoeppner, who began to lay the foundation for improving the overall standing of the football program. My condolences to the Hoeppner family and to the team who grew to love their charismatic coach. You were a good one, Hep, and you'll be missed.


The Ex said...

There is no WAY I could care less about Notre Dame or Indiana. I'm not even sure I could pick Indiana out on a map.

But I sure do <3 Matt Jenks.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

The important thing here is that you don't HATE Notre Dame (or Indiana) simply because.

For that (among so many, many other reasons) I adore thee.

Will Shannon said...

Even though I am a devotee of another Big Ten outfit, whenever the conference suffers a death in the family, it is a sad day.

He coached Indiana in two solid efforts against the Badgers, helping to keep my interest in the game (which is more than I can say for Purdue).

IU will remember and forge ahead, for where there is green grass and goalposts, there is hope.