The Terry Hoeppner story is beginning to get some national media coverage, and the quotes that generated interest in Indiana are now beginning to get some coverage nationally. An Associated Press article appears in various sources under headlines to the effect of: Hoeppner's Contract at Indiana Could Be Voided. MSNBC really lays it on thick: Indiana might void ailing coach's contract. The article is based upon Hep's contract, which the AP obtained with an Open Door Law request and contains provisions that the article suggests are standard in coaching contracts. The AP then quotes a bunch of people saying that none of the steps set forth in the contract have gone forward. A couple of AOL bloggers, Brian Grummell and Brian Cook (the latter best known for mgoblog) describe IU as "cold" and "heartless," respectively, for the way they have handled things this week. Cook notes that Greenspan moves directly into a discussion of how Hep's situation affects marketing. Here's the full quote from the Q&A:
Question: Is there some point, or some date, when you have to make a
decision about Hoeppner's future as the IU football coach?
Answer: "The way I'd answer that is that we want to do something at the right point. That would be the right point for our university, the right point as we approach the season, and the right point as far as the feedback and the sense of health and well being and rest and recovery and capability from Hep. Where those exactly intersect I don't have a date that's etched in stone, but we're certainly getting to be within two months of freshmen reporting for football. It's closer than it was in March. At that point we were obviously very hopeful that he would be back by now. It is a concern, that's the best I can say."
Q: Coach Hoeppner has been the visible face of IU football. Has his absence affected your market strategy?
A: "It affects our marketing strategy in the sense that Terry has been appropriately very well received by not only our fans but people around the state. It doesn't affect our energy, our need, our requirement, our sales desires and all the rest of those kinds of things. But in terms of Terry being able to be out there as he has the last few summers, certainly it impacts us not having his personal presence. We've said this and we'll continue to say it, we're not standing still. We had what I thought was a good strong, solid and healthy spring football season. We've got a lot of kids on campus either at summer school, or working or whatever, getting stronger. So, we're certainly by no means on a treadmill, but Terry has been both a face and a leader of this team. And so, in terms of his personal visibility and what that means to us, yeah, we'd love to have him out there."
Greenspan finished an answer to one question and then answered the next question, which specifically addressed marketing. I'm not sure why Greenspan, whatever the mrits of the first answer, is to blame for the content of the next question. It doesn't seem so bad to me. Further, we don't really know whether Greenspan set out to put pressure on Hoeppner or if this was simply the direction a routine interview took. The second batch of articles arose from the AP getting a copy of Hep's contract and included not a single substantial quote from an IU official. It's early June. None of IU's teams are practicing or playing. IU officials can't comment on basketball recruiting. That makes Hep the most significant story on which Greesnpan could comment. To the extent that Hep isn't keeping IU officials in the loop, I don't think a little pressure is so bad. I don't view any of Greenspan's comments as trying to force Hep to make a decision. I don't think forcing Hep out helps anyone. Even if Hep is permanently unable to return and announces as much in the next week, IU isn't likely to hire a long-term replacement at this time of year. It seems to me that either Terry Hoeppner will return or Bill Lynch will be the interim coach.