Of course there was a victory cigar.
Surely, you remember Zander Diamont’s first win as a college quarterback two years ago in the Old Oaken Bucket Game. Afterwards, he celebrated in legendary fashion, lighting a cigar in the IU locker room and posing for a picture with the Bucket itself.
Asked Saturday if he had another cigar ready to go, Diamont merely winked. But a photo posted to the team’s Snapchat account revealed Diamont did, in fact, light a cigar and pose with the Bucket in the IU locker room after the game.
It was a good way to go out.
Diamont, a junior, went through IU’s Senior Day festivities on Saturday with plans to graduate next summer and end his football career. Yes, Diamont is ready to walk away from football, citing a desire to get out with his health intact.
“To be honest, I’ve had a lot of concussions over the course of my career, a lot of which were in high school,” Diamont said. “With the way that I play, and at my size, I’m not going to start being the guy that slides and steps out of bounds. That’s just not my style. If I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out my way.
“I’m not going to alter the way I play in order to treat that side of the deal. I wanted to give 100 percent to the game and respect the game in that way, play the way I wanted to and go out the way I wanted to. I think that for my safety and my future — I’m not going to the NFL — I need my brain.”
Diamont said he came to his decision — which he called “pretty much final” — within the last couple weeks.
“If you put him on the scales, I bet he’s (161 pounds),” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “He just came to me a week ago. (He’d) been talking about, ‘Hey, I can graduate in the summer and I think this is it. He’s been talking with his family. I even asked him after the game. I said, ‘Are you sure?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I took a few (hits) out there today, coach. One of his gifts is his ability to run. He’s a small guy and he plays with a lot of heart and a lot of courage. That was a decision he and his family came to.”
It was a decision that was difficult to reach, but one that Diamont seems to be at peace with.
“It’s brutal,” he said. “I’ve worked my entire life to play this game and be successful in playing that game. It obviously hasn’t always been that way, but it’s hard. It’s really hard to walk away, especially being part of such a great group of guys. I love everyone in the locker room and IU has been incredible to me. It’s tough, but I feel good going out on this win and the season we’ve had and the commitment to the goals I’ve set for myself.”