"Play 13" - Remembering Terry Hoeppner, Seven Years Later

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Former IU football head coach Terry Hoeppner died seven years ago today. Time for a quick reflection on Coach Hep and his impact on the IU program.

Earlier, I heard that today marks the seventh anniversary of former IU football coach Terry Hoeppner's death:

"Coach Hep," as he was known on campus, died of complications from brain cancer on June 19, 2007, after only two full seasons as the head coach of the IU football team. The Indiana native and Franklin College alum came to Bloomington from Miami-Ohio, where he coached Ben Roethlisberger among others, and he started out his first season at IU in 2005 with a 4-1 record before the Hoosiers lost their last six. "Hep's Rock," enacted in his first season as head coach, still stands in the north end zone at Memorial Stadium today. Unfortunately, Hoeppner missed two games in 2006 because of brain surgery, and the team narrowly missed a bowl berth that season, finishing 5-7. The coach's motto of "Play 13" became an unofficial slogan of IU football during his time. While Hoeppner himself never made it to a bowl game, the Hoosiers made it to the Insight Bowl the next season under new coach Bill Lynch, thus fulfilling Coach Hep's "Play 13" promise.

Without Hoeppner, I'm not sure if all of the recent renovations to Memorial Stadium still happen. From everything I've heard, the coach brought the enthusiasm back to a program that badly needed a jolt in the arm. After a few down years with Lynch, this enthusiasm seems to have returned under Kevin Wilson. Though I arrived in Bloomington long after Hoeppner's untimely passing, I immediately learned of his impact on the program from other Hoosiers while I attended tailgates and the games themselves. For those who were around when he was coach, I'd love to hear some tributes and memories of Coach Hoeppner in the comments.

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