Sept. 8, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. On May 9, 2005, Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner's Memorial Stadium debut against Nicholls State was four months away. Nonetheless, it remains a memorable day in Hoosier history.
Coach Hoeppner and approximately 50 Bloomington community and business leaders met at the DeVault Alumni Center to kick off an aggressive local ticket sales campaign. They left the meeting just as the sun was setting on Memorial Stadium.
"It was a beautiful sight," Hoeppner said. "J.B. (Malibu Grill owner John Bailey) saw the sun set on the stadium, and he said, `You know, that looks like a big rock.' And he was right. Considering that Bloomington is in the heart of limestone country, it was a perfect fit. All along, I felt that this program needed a unique identity, something that the players and fans could relate to."
Indeed, Hoeppner found the distinct identity. The next step was to find something to symbolize that representation. And just as the sunset played a key role in the discovery, sunrise helped make it a reality.
"I arrived at the stadium one morning during preseason camp around 6:30, and (IU athletics facilities worker) Prentice Parker told me about a three ton piece of limestone that was back in the woods between Mellencamp Pavilion and The Tennis Center," Hoeppner said. We took a walk back there, and it turns out that was a remnant of the stadium construction from 1960. There are core drills in the stone that prove it."
On Sept. 8, workers moved the three-ton limestone to the north end zone and placed it on top of a two-ton limestone base engraved "The Rock."
Just before Hoeppner and the Hoosiers take the field on Saturday afternoon against Nicholls State, coaches and players will gather around the rock as part of a pregame ritual.
"While we'll do it before every home game, the message is sent on a daily basis," Hoeppner said. "My challenge to the team is that we defend the rock."
The Hoosier players are up to the task.
"Coach Hoeppner has been talking about a lot, but it is even more important to have something visual that we can see and touch," senior captain and offensive guard Adam Hines said. "It gives the players a vibe of how important it is to defend the rock, take care of home. This just makes me want to defend it that much more."