It's hard to write the obituary for a man you don't know. It's harder when that man leaves a loving family and a legacy of devotion to friends, family and profession.
When I learned Terry Hoeppner passed away yesterday, I immediately thought to the 2006-2007 football season. I thought about the strides Indiana football made during his short tenure. Make no mistake, Hoeppner was the best coach to roam Indiana's sidelines in 50 years. At a basketball crazy university he made football not only relevant, but exciting. In two short years he brought respectability to a program whose last gasp of that sweet air was Randel El's short stint as QB.
You needn't look any further that the upset of 15th ranked Iowa. Coming within a hair of Indiana's first bowl game in a generation. Hoeppner somehow sneaking one of Michigan's prize recruits out from under Carr's nose, if only for a minute. I remember thinking how bright Indiana's future was with Hoeppner at the helm, and how it wasn't a given "W" anymore. I remember thinking if I had a son playing football, Hoeppner would be as good a man to guide him as I could hope for.
Sadly, Hoeppner was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005 and underwent several surgeries and chemotherapy to treat his disease. Despite needing surgery to remove a golf balled sized tumor from his right temple, Hoeppner missed only two games in 2006.
Hoeppner instilled a "Don't Quit" attitude into his team that quickly became its motto. Despite underwhelming talent, Indiana was far more competitive in 2006 than anyone could have imagined. Hoeppner was as devoted to the Hoosiers' on-field performance as he was their off-field image. Two weeks after his second brain surgery he testified before the board of trustees to support funding for a new practice facility and its importance to Indiana football. As a result of his efforts, Indiana will break ground this week on a $55 million practice facility for both basketball and football.
Terry Hoeppner will be sorely missed by Indiana and college football fans alike. He is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren. Terry Hoeppner was 59.