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Which IU athlete are you bringing back for one (1) more season?

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People forget Larry Bird went to IU, folks,,,

On Monday, the NCAA announced that seniors participating in a spring sport will have the opportunity to return to school next season, extending their five-year eligibility clock by one year and allowing them to get the last hurrah that they deserve after their sports were canceled due to the coronavirus.

It means IU baseball coach Jeff Mercer and countless athletes across the country got their wish.

There are still some details to be worked out. How many seniors will return? How will coaches and players alike handle playing time with larger rosters? Since the NCAA is leaving student aid for these super-seniors up to the discretion of each school, how much will IU provide to them in the form of scholarships?

All of that will be sorted out in the next few months.

But this situation got us wondering – if you could grant one more year of eligibility to one (1) IU athlete, past or present, who would you choose?

We asked.

You guys responded.

The CQ staff then gathered for a roundtable discussion (while maintaining proper six-foot social distancing protocol between us, of course) to discuss and debate your answers.

Fans interpreted the question in different ways, which is great! It adds a little spice to the conversation.

Some of you took the question as if an IU athlete would get one more hypothetical year of eligibility after his or her last season at IU, whenever that was. So if a player’s last season was in 2012, he or she would then be on the team again in 2013 in this scenario.

Some of you took it as if a former IU player would play for IU in the 2020-21 season at their current age and fitness level. (What are the odds 70-year-old Mark Spitz could still anchor IU’s medley relay?)

Some of you took it as if a former IU player would play for the Hoosiers next season at their peak college form.

Some of you said Tom Crean.

There are no bad answers.

Well, except for the pissing contest that started when a Purdue fan well, actually’d someone to explain that the Big Ten champion doesn’t automatically make the Rose Bowl anymore because the College Football Playoff is Actually Bad. That was kind of a bad answer.

Since we left the question open-ended, we’ll treat your answers as such.

Andy Wittry: Let’s start with Yogi. He was the first answer we got and probably the most common response.

IU went 18-16 in 2017 and finished No. 44 on kenpom in what was the last year of the Tom Crean era. OG Anunoby played just 16 games, IU lost seven of eight late in the Big Ten season and ultimately, IU turned down a home game in the NIT and saw its season ended by Josh Pastner and Georgia Tech.

Adding an All-American point guard alongside James Blackmon Jr. in the best season of his career makes for a really good backcourt and Thomas Bryant returned for his sophomore season. There’s a lot of firepower there, surely enough to make the tournament and conservatively a top-15 offense (they finished at No. 27 in terms of efficiency).

Auston Matricardi: Yogi was my answer and it didn’t take too long for me to come up with it. I cannot stress how jarring going from Yogi to The Josh Newkirk Experience was.

Yogi-JBJ-OG-Juwan-TB is also a Very Fun Group.

Mike Miller: Tom Crean might still be eating East Side Pizza Hut and hangin’ at the neighboring Barnes & Noble (RIP) if Yogi was available in 16-17. Maybe. Either way, that 16-17 team was pretty rudderless. With a double-senior Yogi steering the ship, they don’t lose at Fort Wayne, they don’t experience further embarrassment at home vs. Nebraska. A lot of things happen differently if he’s running the show. It took Yogi about three years to figure it all out, but that’s OK! That’s kinda the way things go for a lot of us. Senior year Yogi was special, and you put him on virtually any IU team, past or present, and it gets exponentially better.

AM: pour one out for B&N.

AW: I think one of my favorite Tom Crean press conference moments was when he talked about Josh Newkirk’s stat line against IU in the 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge (I want to say it was 16/8 and if that’s right, I really, really need some new hobbies) as an example of his talent. But guess what, IU ranked 200th (!) in defensive efficiency that season! You can’t use a game against your own team’s horrendous defense and put that on the left side of a pros and cons list.

Long story short, I think IU fans quickly realized Josh Newkirk wasn’t the ideal solution at PG, so take his 32 starts and give those to Yogi and you’re probably looking at an IU team that finishes in the top four of the Big Ten and maybe makes another Sweet 16, depending on how the bracket shakes out.

MM: It wasn’t even the 16 and 8 that wowed Tom. It was the deflections.

AM: we love deflections folks

wonder how many indiana assists he had in that game

AW: Let’s move on to another recent IU fan favorite who arrived at IU at the same time as Yogi, now-Super Bowl winning quarterback Nate Sudfeld. I was at Roy’s the day Suddy got named Third Team All-Big Ten and I witnessed some kid who was blacked out or close to it chant “THIRD TEAM, THIRD TEAM” to him as he was leaving the bathroom. Just imagine the chants if Sudfeld had another year, which he probably deserved because of injuries, and he was paired with S&P+’s No. 20 defense in the fall of 2016.

MM: Ol’ Suddy Tuddy

AM: Suddy doesn’t throw five interceptions against Wake.

AW: I think it may have been Bill Connelly who pointed out that if IU had its 2015 offense and 2016 defense, that’s basically a top-10 team.

AM: Yeah that sounds about right.

AW: Almost every program trips into a random 9-3 season. That could’ve been IU’s chance.

AM: As good/ok as things turned out with Lagow gripping it and ripping it, after all IU made a bowl game, that team could’ve done so much more.

MM: Yeah, if I were choosing one guy here, it’s Sudfeld. That 2016 offense actually put up some numbers, but it was terrrrrrrrrrrrrible inside the 40 (to say nothing about all those the picks). Check this out: IU’s red zone percentages in the Sudfeld era:

2015: Scoring 88% | TD 59%

2014: Scoring 76% | TD 66%

2013: Scoring 82% | TD 67%

2012: Scoring 86% | TD 66%

In 2016, IU scored on 71% of red zone trips, and posted TDs on only 48%.

#sabermetrics

AM: mike is that good?

MM: buddy, it’s something

AW: I think this is where we’re contractually obligated to mention that The Kick was also Good.

AM: That’s right, it was. Good thing that Suddy got to go out in style, winning a bowl game like that.

MM: He looked sick walking off that field. Which, yeah.

Photo by Chris Howell | Bloomington Herald-Times

AM: Who did it better? Nate Sudfeld post-pinstripe bowl or me after one too many AMFs at upstairs?

MM: tough, tough call

AW: looks like that’s a split decision with the judges

I think you’re looking at something like 8-4, maybe 9-3, with Sudfeld around in 2016 and then hoo buddy, here’s a rabbit hole. Does K-Dub manage to stick around in our hypothetical world (or if Suddy redshirted in 2012)?

Based on Fred Glass’ comments at the time, which were roughly “certain things that are acceptable elsewhere aren’t acceptable here,” I’m not sure a few more wins make a difference to Glass. And that’s good! But things might have gotten a little more interesting in December 2016 with a better QB around.

MM: In that scenario, I bet someone else yanks Kevin outta there before Fred has to make the call.

AW: probably a win-win for everyone involved

Let’s go with a quick rapid-fire round here. A lot of fans said Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo or Jordan Hulls. Pick one of them to join Will Sheehey as a key, veteran leader on that lifeless 2014 IU team and make your case why.

AM: I’m gonna go with Vic. He’s the best of the three, would’ve added some shooting to a team that needed it, he’s a famous gym rat which is something that rubs off on guys, and if he stayed an extra year at IU maybe he wouldn’t have had to spend the first three years of his NBA career in hell (AKA Orlando).

MM: As much as I want to say Hulls — as I mentioned in the mailbag, more Jordan Hulls is usually the answer to most things IUBB related — the potential of forcing Oladipo to stay for his senior year is hard to resist. And if we’re still giving him an EXTRA year, that 2015 team would be pretty wild, too.

AW: Oh man, some of our readers might need to take a cold shower after thinking about TWO more years of Oladipo.

MM: awuooooooooooooo (wolf howl)

AW: I think Oladipo’s the right answer though, when you look back and remember Evan Gordon and Stanford Robinson were splitting time at the 2. Yogi, Oladipo, Sheehey, Troy and Noah Vonleh is another Fun Group.

MM: they might’ve named Assembly Hall after Tom. Assembly Crean.

AW: Is this where we bring up the Matt Roth response, which got 30 more likes than our original tweet?

let’s cut to tom crean’s reaction

MM: tfw matt roth says he wants to come back

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

AM: Matt Roth? Never heard of him.

MM: It’s a good thing Indiana definitely didn’t need a shooter in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

AM: I, for one, believe shooting to be overrated

AW: alright if we’re doing crean memes, here’s a fanfic meme I made the day after the FBI’s original press conference two years ago. May I introduce you to Louisville Coach Tom Crean

MM: Andy, it’s beautiful

AW: Imagine the Louisville-Kentucky game every December with Crean and Calipari. By 2021, Coach Cal would be gerrymandering until the state splits into two and he doesn’t have to play Louisville anymore

AM: Cal refusing to travel to the Yum! Center because it’s too hostile of an environment >>>>

MM: chefs kiss

AW: We’d get another thinkpiece from that former porn star UK fan complaining that she got a migraine or something, just like the Wat Shot game

Here’s a good one. Would Antwaan Randle El or Cody Latimer make a bigger difference for IUFB in 2020? Assume the season actually happens like normal and Michael Penix is healthy to start the season.

MM: It’s hard not to pick Randle El, but the thought of having Whop and Latimer running around is also hard to pass. Man. This is tough. Probably Randle El, just because he’s a generational talent, but I’m not sure there’s a wrong answer here.

AM: If I can use ARE as a receiver/general offensive wrecking crew in tandem with Penix I’d probably do that. It’d give you a safety net at QB and he’s A Problem.

It’s not too different from the Vic/Zeller/Hulls question for me. Take the most talented player, which is no slight to Latimer, and figure it out later.

AW: I think Randle El is obviously the more talented player, especially with where today’s game is, but I’ll take Latimer. The advanced stats guys at Pro Football Focus are really high on Penix, like maybe a top-10 QB in the country high, and having a QB of that quality with Whop Philyor and Cody Latimer would be pretty incredible.

Alright, let’s wrap things up. Pick one IUBB great – Isiah, Calbert Cheaney, Jay Edwards, A.J. Guyton, Pat Graham, George McGinnis, Mike Woodson – and put them on the IU team the year after they left. Who makes the biggest difference?

AM: I’ll go with IT. In the year after he left the Hoosiers went 19-10, finished tied for 2nd in the Big Ten, and fell out of the NCAAT in the 2nd round, losing a 4/5 matchup to UAB. The year after that a similar roster was one of the best teams in the country, winning the Big Ten and making the Sweet Sixteen. Maybe if IT sticks around one more year that group goes further than the 2nd round, because they eventually showed that they were capable of more the next year.

AW: I’m also going to go with Isiah. (Who isn’t going to love a 25-year-old talking about rosters from the 70s and 80s that he wasn’t alive for?) It feels like for as strong of a program IU has been historically, it doesn’t have as many NBA greats as it should. Isiah is a basketball legend and keeping him around in Bloomington for IU’s title defense would’ve been cool.

MM: I’ll take Jay Edwards. He was incredible in 1989, and you put him on a ‘90 team with freshman Calbert and I like IU’s chances at posting a winning record in the conference and winning a tournament game (or two).

AW: Give me one for the road fellas and we’ll get out of here.

Put Larry Bird alongside Trayce Jackson-Davis in 2021.

MM: We’d be talking about the 2021 IU Hoosiers No. 1 All-Time March Madness team.

AM: I’m gonna go to the diamond. In 2017 the Hoosiers had a bit of a reset on the mound with some of the old guard graduating/going pro. Jon Stiever was the Friday night guy, Pauly Milto worked his way from the bullpen to Saturdays over the course of the year, and Brian Hobbie got a lot of starts before eventually falling out of the rotation and being replaced by freshman Cal Krueger, who eventually started a win-or-go-home NCAAT game against Kentucky in Lexington. Didn’t turn out well! If you take all of Hobbie and Krueger’s starts that year and give them to, say, Kyle Hart who was a senior the year before, that team could’ve been even more dangerous than it already was. Hart’s one of the best to ever grace the mound in Bloomington with a record of 31-12 and a career ERA of 2.87. Get him on that 2017 team and watch the magic happen.

MM: Sign me up for that.

Any final thoughts, boys?

AW: I think IU won about three more national titles tonight.

dusts off hands, fires up Fortnite

AM: I’ll order the banners.