Drawing coach Hoeppner’s ire…

During his weekly press conference today, Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner directly addressed a recent article about his team that suggested he had started using a high number of true freshmen and redshirt freshmen in an attempt to build for the future.

He strongly refuted that notion.

He also said he wasn’t sure who wrote the article.

I am.

It was my Sunday column, and it was given the headline “Hoeppner’s going to sink or swim with his own recruits.” If you’re a Herald-Times subscriber, you can read the story by clicking on the link.

Needless to say, I stand by the opinions I expressed in it.

But I feel we owe Terry Hoeppner the chance to have his rebuttal published. What he said probably doesn’t warrant a separate story, and we have no intention of engaging in any sort of he-said, he-said type of argument. So I thought we should publish his comments here.

Doug and I tried to pick out his main points.

“Are we happy with the results? No. But how we respond, how I respond, how
the coaches respond, I think is very important for this team. We have not
given up on them. We have not written off the older guys.”

“Someone, I don’t know who, talking about. . . No. 1, it’s never a
consideration. I can’t imagine any staff, for sure this staff, talking about the old
guys versus the new guys. That’s preposterous. That’s, oh, I won’t use the
word.”

“I said it last year, you guys are my team. That’s why that senior class and
this senior class, they’ve all been through a lot. So we haven’t written
anybody off. Go out and compete. If you aren’t playing, then show us you
should be playing. That’s the challenge.”

“And the fact that we are playing some younger guys is because they’re
practicing best and we think that to say we’ve written this season off or
that we’re building for the future, no, we’re building for Illinois.”

So there you have it, straight from the coach.

It’s not the first time he’s been less than pleased with our coverage. But that’s OK. Many of our readers are less than pleased with the way his team is playing.

Coach Hoeppner did urge reporters to look at the “big picture” during his press conference. He didn’t want all of the focus to be on the 52-17 loss to Wisconsin — which he admitted was the worst of his coaching career — but instead on the fact that the football team will soon have an impressive new facility to woo recruits with.

He’s got a point. Saturday was dreadful, and it may get worse. But he deserves a little bit of time to turn this program around. He’s nearing the middle of year two, and deserves at least two more.