Bad news today on one of the Big Ten's best guys: Indiana head football coach Terry Hoeppner died today from complications of a brain tumor. He was 59 years old. By all accounts, Coach Hep was a charismatic leader, a smart coach, and an all-around great guy. I'll leave it to We Are the Postmen for an IU-centric retrospective.
Sure, Iowa's debacle in Bloomington this year was the true signal of the end (and probably the worst day of my year), but IU's performance that day reminded me of 2000 Iowa/Michigan State, when Hawkeye fans could finally see a glimmer of hope. And when Hep and his players climbed into the stands to celebrate with their loyal supporters (Hep called his team "a shooting rocket"), it reminded me of charging the Kinnick turf to celebrate with that team. There was a certain amount of consolation in losing to a team, a fan base, and a coach who could be so excited.
Indiana fans began to worry when Hoeppner went missing this February, but I don't think anyone knew the extent of his illness until today. Even when it was announced last week that Hoeppner would not be coaching this season, it always seemed to imply he would come back at some point. Needless to say, this came as a shock.
It's far too early to even begin speculating on the effect Hoeppner's death will have on this rising program. That will all be addressed in due time. God bless Coach Hep and his family.