Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Coach Hep: The Rock of Indiana
My alma mater Indiana University lost a dear friend. Indiana head football coach Terry Hoeppner passed away from brain tumor complications yesterday morning in the Bloomington hospital. Coach 'Hep' was a players' coach. He was a students' coach.
From the moment he arrived on campus, Coach Hep did everything within his power to turn around the Indiana football program. More importantly than the win/loss record, Hep made us all proud to be Hoosiers again. He led his players through the tailgate fields and stadium parking lots encouraging everyone he passed to come inside to cheer "their" team to victory. Inside Memorial Stadium sat a giant limestone rock and it was every fans' obligation on Saturday afternoon to "Defend the Rock!" After every win, the players led the fans in "Indiana, Our Indiana"- the fight song. The Indiana native himself understood the history and tradition that did exist with Indiana football. He used his state connections to emphasize the importance of in-state recruiting when establishing a winning program.
Hep's fight against his illness paralleled his never say die coaching style. He was a warrior. He was a fighter. During the 2006 season, he endured two surgeries and miraculously missed only two games. He very much wanted to be healthy again and return to coaching the Hoosiers. In his short tenure as coach, the Indiana football program made incredible progress.
Rest in peace Coach Hep. You were the rock of Indiana. You will be missed.