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The World Needs More Terry Hoeppeners

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on June 20, 2007

I’m sure as you already know by now, Indiana football coach Terry Hoppener died yesterday in Bloomington after undergoing treatment for a second brain tumor that forced him to miss segments of the 2006 football season and nearly leading the Hoosiers to a bowl game for the first time in 14 years.

And I’m also sure that you already know that he was the college coach of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when he had a successful run at Miami (Ohio).

But what you didn’t know is that despite his health problems, he did something that no football coach outside the outposts of West Lafayette and South Bend did in the Hoosier State:

Build a tradition around a program that for many years languished, or were at the bottom of the Big Ten in football, and build a new mindset to the Hoosier faithful.

You didn’t know that when he was introduced as the new Hoosier football coach, he spoke openly of going to the Rose Bowl, something that Indiana had only been to once, back in 1967, going as far as planting a single rose into a vase explaining how he one day planned to coach the Hoosiers in Pasadena, a city that many Midwesterners dream of going to while fattening themselves up with Christmas leftovers and beer on New Year’s Day.

You didn’t know that Hoeppener devoutly loved his wife and considered her his best friend, something that would be present during the long battle he had with brain cancer and he was probably one of the most energetic coaches to ever grace the sidelines in the Big Ten.

You might have known about the rock that was placed at Memorial Stadium or the billboards across the state of Indiana, but you never got to know a guy who considered himself as one of the guys, a honest guy who had a chance to live out his dream of coaching for the team he grew up cheering for.

And he did it despite the health problems, the losing, and whatever else that comes to mind.

Today, we college football fans mourn not only the passing of a coach, but of a person who had a heart of a champion.

Today, God has a new head coach for His team.

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