June 19, 2007
Remembering Coach Hep
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana University football coach Terry Hoeppner, 59, passed away Tuesday morning at 6:50 a.m. at Bloomington Hospital following a lengthy illness.
"Coach died due to complications from the brain tumor for which he had been treated surgically and therapeutically over the past 18 months, " said Indiana University team physician Dr. Larry Rink. "His family was at his side."
Hoeppner was named IU's 26th head football coach on December 17, 2004 and he and his coaching staff have worked tirelessly to generate enthusiasm and passion for the program since his arrival in Bloomington.
"Terry's fight was courageous and will serve as an inspiration to those who have known him," said IU Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan. "This is a truly sad day for our community and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Hoeppner family and to those whose lives he has touched."
In just his second season at the helm of the Hoosier program, Hoeppner brought the Hoosiers on the brink of a bowl appearance in 2006. He led the youngest team in the Big Ten (49 true or redshirt freshmen and 72 underclassmen overall), to five victories - its most since the 2001 campaign - and had restored an enthusiasm in IU football.
"This is a very sad day for all of us in the IU family," said IU President Dr. Adam W. Herbert. "We have lost a very strong, courageous, dedicated and visionary leader. Coach Hep has done so much for Indiana University in far too short a period of time. Like all who knew him personally, I will miss his warmth and, above all, his friendship."
The 2006 Hoosiers picked up three Big Ten wins for the first time since 2001, including a 31-28 win over No. 13 Iowa. It marked the first time an Indiana team defeated a top-15 squad since a 31-10 win over No. 9 Ohio State on Oct. 10, 1987. Following the victory, the Hoosiers were selected as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week.
Indiana also claimed its first Big Ten road win since Nov. 10, 2001, downing Illinois, 34-32. Earning its final conference victory of the season, the Hoosiers dominated Michigan State, 46-21, on Homecoming to bring the Old Brass Spittoon back to Bloomington for the first time since 2001.
Hoeppner made an immediate impact in his first year at the helm of the Hoosier program. In addition to leading Indiana to its first 4-1 start since 1994, Hoeppner rejuvenated an IU fan base that enjoyed a 39-percent increase in per-game attendance, a 46-percent increase in overall season ticket sales and a 110-percent increase in student season ticket sales.
He not only helped generate a buzz about Indiana football, but he and his staff also installed an aggressive, big-play defense to go along with an exciting spread offense that threw a school-record 24 touchdown passes.
Furthermore, Hoeppner helped establish new IU football traditions. Two hours prior to each home game, fans and players engaged in "The Walk," as Indiana coaches and players marched through the tailgating areas en route to the "crimson gates" at Memorial Stadium. Hoeppner also dubbed Memorial Stadium "The Rock," a nod to the stadium's limestone construction. A three-ton remnant from the original stadium construction was placed near the north end zone, as the IU coaches now challenge the Hoosiers to "defend the rock." Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the coaches and players join The Marching Hundred band to sing the school fight song after every home victory.
Hoeppner arrived in Bloomington after spending 19 seasons at Miami, including the last six as head coach. During his head coaching tenure, Hoeppner helped restore the national spotlight to the tradition-rich RedHawk football program. In addition to compiling a 48-25 overall record, Miami finished among the top three in the MAC East each year of Hoeppner's tenure.
The RedHawks closed the 2003 season by winning the MAC and GMAC Bowl Championships and were ranked 10th in the final Associated Press Poll and 12th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. In addition, Miami was rated as high as 11th in the Bowl Championship Series.
During his head coaching career, Hoeppner mentored 11 eventual NFL draft picks, including 2004 NFL Rookie of the Year and Super Bowl XL champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A 1969 graduate of Franklin College with a bachelor's degree in physical education and minor in biology, Hoeppner earned his master's degree in education from Butler in 1983.
He was invited to the St. Louis Cardinals' and Green Bay Packers' training camps, and he played one season each with the Detroit Wheels and the Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League.
Hoeppner had a brain tumor removed near his right temple on Dec. 7, 2005. He had a second operation on Sept. 13, 2006, and took a medical leave from the Hoosiers on March 18, 2007.
Hoeppner is survived by his wife, Jane, his three children - Drew, Amy (Steve) Fox and Allison (Drew) Balcam - and his four grandchildren - Tucker and Spencer Fox and Tate and Quinn Balcam.
Further details regarding services are pending at this time, and will be forthcoming once they are determined.