A few weeks ago, I solicited comments in the first round of this sweepstakes, asking members of The Crimson Quarry to post comments about their IU fandom. The winner of that first round, as selected by me, was LoneStarHoosier. This post will become the Crimson Quarry's entry in the overall sweepstakes. If the judges select LSH as the overall winner, then she will win a trip to the college football game of her choice. Below is an exchange that she and I had about IU football fandom over the past few days:
CQ: You talked quite a bit in your entry about how you became a devoted Hoosier fan and described, in all too familiar detail, the downside of being an IU football fan. Why don't you tell us a bit about your favorite moment or moments as an IU fan.
LSH: Probably the game that springs most readily to mind is the 2007 Bucket game that punched IU's ticket to the Insight Bowl. I was actually there with a friend and got to be among the hundreds(?) to storm the field after the clock wound down. I somehow managed to get from Section 32 through two tunnels down the stairs over the rail and onto the field in about 30 seconds, an athletic achievement I have not equalled since then. Once I got to the field, the first player I saw was cornerback Chris Philips, who adopted what we would now recognize as a Clay Matthews post-sack celebration stance, and screamed at me as I ran at him at full speed and tackled him with a bear hug. I had a bruise on my chin from the impact with his pads for the following two weeks.
My friend was even luckier. She somehow managed to get into the throng of players and students and got a picture holding the Bucket.
My memory of that game (and the field goal in particular) is a strange composite of my vantage in the stands and the youtube footage of the broadcast: Austin Starr, prepping for his kick against the backdrop of the North End Zone still under construction, its doors and staircases framed in concrete but leading nowhere yet. Here's the video of the kick: I can't help but compare that video to this one and this moment: These were taken at the time as pivotal moments of ascendancy for the respective football and basketball programs, but it makes me sad now to consider how different the futures played out after each. Watford's shot is far more recent and the fruit is still ripening, you might say. Starr's kick, however, has come and gone and took with it all the promise of that moment. That field goal was the first part of Hep's dream for the program, and almost as soon as the clocks rolled to zeros, the dream began falling apart. IU lost to OK State by 16, seemingly just happy to be there. In the following years of the Lynch era, IU went 19-30.
CQ: It's interesting, the 2007 Bucket game was an important win for the program, but it's a game that I really can't bring myself to watch. I still can't believe we nearly blew a 24-3 second half lead at home to a middling Purdue team with our first bowl bid in 14 years on the line. As I sat up near the pressbox that day, rocking back and forth like a mental patient with the score 24-24, I already was horrified by my behavior at the postgame tailgate party and we hadn't even blown the game yet. And we didn't, for once, thankfully. Since the topic is Indiana football, I have to ask about low moments. Have there been any times that you were completely hopeless and wondering if you should go on? For me, two of the roughest moments were the first quarter and a half of the 2006 Illinois game, when the Hoosiers were completely pantsed and which inspired Terry Hoeppner's famous sideline rant. The second was just this season, the collapse against Navy. In each instance, the Hoosiers came back (in 2006, IU came back against Illinois and beat Iowa the next week, and in 2012, wins against the same teams in the same order), but it was pretty grim for a while. Any comparable moments for you?
LSH: Well, after the 2009 Northwestern game (that infamous collapse highlighting a season characterized by second-half collapses) I was so disappointed and angry that I threatened to burn my IU football apparel. Luckily, then-boyfriend saved them from me. The sad thing is that all too often by the Bucket game rolls around, there's not much to care about other than "pride." With the season now fully behind us, I can say that it's clear there's little pride in beating a lame-duck Hope-led Purdue team playing for a bus ticket to Detroit, and when your own bowl fortunes were dashed a week prior. But still, the fact that as little as a week ago we were playing for bowl contention, and as little as two weeks ago for B1G title game aspirations, and that a year ago we were 1-11, I can't help but feel hopeful that fate will throw us some kind of bone next year.
I'm pretty sure we're the only team in America that feels good (or at least OK) about going 4-8.
CQ: Ah, yes. That Northwestern game was 28-3 in the first half, right? I recall watching it unfold in horror as I hit "refresh" on my phone. You mention next year. The Hoosiers have eight home games, and play Illinois, Minnesota, and Purdue at home. We'll have a healthy Tre Roberson and two reliable backups. All of our best skill position players return on offense, and the defense will be a year older, at least, except for the (not insignificant) departure of Larry Black. Jr. and Adam Replogle on the interior of the line. What will you have to see from the 2013 Hoosiers to feel like this has all been worth it?
LSH: I also watched that game unfold over a cell phone. It's a bit like hearing a ship in distress over two-way radio and hearing the transmissions as it sinks, hopeless to do anything about it.
As for what I want to see next year? Essentially, the same wish list I have for the team every year. I would like to see our defense learn to tackle and for the first defender that reaches the ballcarrier to be the one that makes the stop. I would like to see Tre return to health and Coffman and Sudfeld make strides between their freshman and sophomore seasons. I would like the team to be diligent in conditioning so as not to wilt in the second half of games. I would like to see our highly-touted defensive recruits stay committed and sign in February and maybe bring some friends with them. I also hope to have an offseason in which nobody associated with the team does anything stupid. No arrests, no injuries, no silly shenanigans resulting in suspensions, no accidents, no sprained cerebrums (i.e. go to class, go to tutoring).
As for next season, I think 6-6 is a perfectly reasonable benchmark. Win 4 of those first 5 home games and then nail two of the three of Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue, all at home, and we're on our way to the low-level POS bowl game that we lust after in our dreams. People cringe a little bit sometimes when I use this metaphor, but IU football, to me, is a loved one with a crippling disability, learning to walk again. Each little step is a victory and leads to the next step. 1-11 has led to 4-8. I hope 4-8 leads to more steps.
Thanks, LoneStarHoosier, for participating,and best of luck in the sweepstakes.
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