|Hoosiers fulfill late coaches' dream by making bowl game|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 03 December 2007 11:42|
By reaching the postseason, the Hoosiers fulfilled their late coach's dream. Indiana will play Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 31.
Hoeppner's successor, Bill Lynch, said now that the Hoosiers are playing 13, winning in Tempe, Ariz., is the new priority.
``You want it to be a trip that's a reward for your players,'' he said. ``You want it to be a real positive experience, but you've got to get prepared to go win the football game. This is not an exhibition game. We're representing the Big Ten against the Big 12, and we want to win our eighth football game.''
Lynch became coach after Hoeppner's death in June from complications of a brain tumor. Lynch said Hoeppner's dream when he became the head coach before the 2005 season was to get the Hoosiers back to the postseason, and the team bought into it.
``I don't think there's any question, that was a huge motivation throughout the year,'' Lynch said. ``His last e-mail was 'Play 13.' It wasn't something that, after he died, all of a sudden became a popular theme. That was Terry's theme all along.''
It is Indiana's first bowl bid since the 1993 Independence Bowl. The school's last postseason win was in the 1991 Copper Bowl.
The Hoosiers nearly fulfilled Hoeppner's dream while he was alive last season, but a loss to Purdue in the Old Oaken Bucket game knocked them out of bowl contention.
The Hoosiers became bowl eligible this season with a win over Ball State, but they needed another win to strengthen their case. The Hoosiers then lost to Northwestern, making this year's Oaken Bucket game even more important.
Indiana blew a 24-3 lead against the Boilermakers, but Austin Starr nailed a 49-yard field goal with 30 seconds left to win the game, 27-24.
Now, the Hoosiers will head to Arizona, while Purdue is playing Dec. 26 in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit against Central Michigan.
``Where we're going and when we get to play, I think it's going to be great for our fans, a great destination, and that's all part of the bowl experience,'' Lynch said.
The Hoosiers are relieved now that they know what's ahead.
``There'll be a focus now,'' Lynch said. ``There's a game, there's a team, all those things we didn't have last weekend.''
With the bowl game comes valuable extra practices that Indiana traditionally hasn't had.
``It's so important, what we're doing right now,'' Lynch said. ``You take those young kids and try to develop them, and that's not only the true freshmen, that's the second- and third-year kids.''
Lynch said reaching a bowl game is critical right now during this intense part of the recruiting season.
``I think it's immeasurable in recruiting,'' he said. ``Everybody that plays at this level is trying to sell the idea that we're a bowl team on a regular basis. Then you get to the point where you want to be a BCS bowl team.''