Top 10 IU sports stories of 2019

1. IU football makes a turnaround

In back-to-back years, the Hoosiers finished 5-7 and made fans wonder when the program’s “breakthrough” moment would arrive.

With an 8-4 regular season and an appearance in the Gator Bowl upcoming, Indiana achieved its leap forward in 2019.

Much of that success was just taking care of business. Every win the Hoosiers claimed was over a team with a sub-.500 record. But in situations where the Hoosiers may have slipped in years past, they came through with winning plays.

Peyton Ramsey, who lost a preseason quarterback competition to Michael Penix Jr., ended up providing many of those clutch plays during Penix’s absences. The redshirt junior compiled 351 passing yards in IU’s first win over Nebraska in 60 years. He collected five touchdowns to help the Hoosiers reclaim the Old Oaken Bucket.

Whichever quarterback was behind center seemed to thrive in offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s scheme. DeBoer, who was brought over from Fresno State via the richest contract ever given to an IU assistant, led an offense that scored 30-plus points in eight of its first nine games, tying the 2015 squad’s record of nine 30-plus games overall.

DeBoer proved his worth so well, he was named the head coach at Fresno State. He will still call plays for IU at the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, which is the program’s first post-New Year’s appearance since the 1987 Peach Bowl.

All told, this is IU’s first winning season since 2007 and the first eight-win campaign since 1993. After a 7-2 start, the Hoosiers were briefly ranked in the polls, ending the longest drought outside of the top 25 for a Power 5 program.

2. Fred Glass retires as AD.

After nearly a dozen years at the helm of IU athletics, the Hoosiers’ athletic director decided it was time to step away.

Glass was the athletic department’s fifth director in eight years when he arrived in October 2008. He steadied the ship following the Kelvin Sampson scandal, emphasizing academic excellence and student rights. He also oversaw massive change on the athletic campus, including the renovation of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the enclosing of the Memorial Stadium end zones, and the building of new baseball and softball venues.

3. Bob Knight returns

By attending an IU baseball game in April, the legendary basketball coach made his first known appearance at a Hoosier athletic event since his firing in 2000. This was one of many small steps Knight made toward an ultimate return to his stomping ground, following book signings and speeches that brought him closer and closer to campus. Knight has since resettled in Bloomington and loyalists await a potential return to Assembly Hall.

4. IU women’s hoops continues ascent

Teri Moren’s program returned to the NCAA tournament in 2018-19 and won a first-round game for the second time in her tenure. The Hoosiers’ growth only continued into the next season, as they logged a non-conference win over No. 5 South Carolina at the Paradise Jam tourney. Their ranking in the Associated Press poll surged as high as No. 12, a program record, before dipping back to No. 14 after a loss to No. 10 UCLA to end the non-conference slate. IU heads into Big Ten play as the second-highest ranked team in the conference behind No. 12 Maryland.

5. Tom Allen gets a new deal

One of the results of the Hoosiers’ 8-4 season was a new deal for their third-year coach. Allen inked a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $3.9 million. The deal came with a $1 million signing bonus, as well as an “evergreen” provision that grants an extra year each time the Hoosiers make a bowl. While he still ranks behind most of the Big Ten’s football coaches in pay, the contract is competitive. For example, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano just signed a deal that averages $4 million a year. Allen is also the university’s richest employee, ahead of IU basketball coach Archie Miller.

6. IU baseball wins Big Ten

Indiana didn’t miss a beat when Jeff Mercer took over the program in July after Chris Lemonis left after three seasons for Mississippi State. The first-year coach guided the Hoosiers to their first Big Ten title since 2014 and to their sixth NCAA tournament appearance in seven years. Indiana finished the regular season 36-19 and 17-7 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 24 heading into the NCAAs, but the Hoosiers were eliminated at the Louisville Regional. Outfielder Matt Gorski was selected in the second round of the MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 57th overall pick, one a record 10 Hoosiers selected in the draft.

7. Lilly King wraps up career

The Evansville native wrapped up her remarkable career at Indiana with a fourth-straight sweep of the 100- and 200-yards breaststrokes at the NCAA championships, becoming the first woman in NCAA history to win eight breaststroke titles and the only swimmer or diver in Big Ten history to win eight individual NCAA titles. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, she went on to win the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke events at the FINA world championships later in the summer.

8. Beer and wine at Memorial Stadium

Following other Big Ten universities that have offered alcoholic beverages, IU initiated a “pilot program” to sell beer and wine at football games. The results were positive: IUPD reported a decrease in alcohol-related incidents in and around the stadium, while alcohol sales netted about $470,000. Of that, IU’s share was just over $200,000, with about $180,000 staying with the athletic department and $20,000 going to the Dean of Students Office for substance use prevention programs.

9. IU volleyball and wrestling get home

Indiana’s volleyball and wrestling teams finally got a premier facility to call their own this year when the $17 million multi-purpose area opened on the corner of 17th Street and Fee Lane. The 3,000-seat facility was a huge upgrade over the aged, 2,000-seat University Gym the two programs had shared for years.

10. IU basketball misses 3rd straight NCAA

Indiana’s De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green could become the first four-year players not to play in an NCAA tournament if the Hoosiers fail to get a bid this year. Indiana finished 19-16 overall and 8-12 in the Big Ten in coach Archie Miller’s second season at the helm. Indiana’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament came in the 2015-16 season when it lost in the Sweet 16 to third-seeded North Carolina.

12 comments

  1. Milking 8 and 4 football record all they can.
    10 = 1. IU men’s basketball continues rise above flatline.
    7 = 2. Lilly King wraps up career.
    6 = 3. IU baseball wins big ten title.
    4 = 4. IU Ladies basketball continues accent.
    3 = 5. Bob Knight returns.
    2 = 6. AD Fred Glass retires and development of facilities. Isn’t that one of any AD’s jobs?
    1= 7. Football 8-4 record.
    9 = 8. IU Volleyball and Wrestling get homes.
    5= 9. T.A. gets new contract.
    8= 10. Beer and alcohol sales.

    1. 4. IU Ladies basketball continues accent.

      I think you meant “ascent“…unless Moren is coaching in a foreign language.
      (It could be argued as “foreign” language because X’s and O’s are finally returning to men’s hoops under Archie…and no longer just the realm of Teri Moren).

      Spellcheck happens…

  2. t,sorry you diss the 8-4 season so much but many of us really like it based on the history of IUFB. IU teams in the past would have been lucky to win 6 games this season. Our new OC improved the offense greatly and made the reads easier for the QBs. One reason I like this season so much is because it creates momentum for next year’s team. I would have had Lily King up near the top or at #1. I would agree with your 2,3,4 but it is a big deal with a long time AD retires and it deserves to be in the top half. Getting Bob Knight back to campus isn’t a big deal any more.

  3. Lilly King is clearly #1; Women’s Basketball under Coach Terri Moren #2; IU Football #3; and Fred Glass #4!

  4. V. Sorry, not to diss IU football but rather won 8 games over teams with losing record. I feel like that is deserving #7 in top ten. If IU wins bowl game over team with winning record does that count for 2020. And yes, getting first win of year over a team with a winning record would be meaningful for 2020. It is debatable how many games IU could win over teams with losing records in other seasons this century. However, I agree I doubt if the number would be 8.

  5. It’s all a rather pointless….and a somewhat pathetic Top-10.

    Big stages are the only thing really newsworthy ( e.g. a college football playoff, BigTen conference title game, Elite 8/Final Four, Rose Bowl, College Baseball World Series) . Our bars seem to just keep dropping lower and lower. We really haven’t been newsworthy since the 1987 banner…and, very briefly, in a 2002 Final Four. If you can’t anchor a Top-10 with either a grand achievement/grand stage in either basketball or football, then it’s a pointless Top-10. The two major sports(men’s basketball & football) accounting for where ESPN and Big10 Network generate a majority of advertising revenue and viewership ratings is where AD’s and programs are first and foremost measured in relevance.

    I suppose Lilly King was newsworthy. Could have simply done a lengthy story on her accolades and left the rest of the less-than-earth-shattering stuff to fight over blasé positioning.

    We must make our bars higher, folks. I guess Jon Blau just needs to keep busy….and pump this pointless pandering malarkey out in volume.

    As t pointed out, we did not defeat a football team with a winning record. No victories against OSU, Penn State, Michigan…or even Michigan State. We should really be going to a Patsy Bowl.

    A decade of nothing higher than Sweet 16’s and Patsy Bowls usually means two of the highest Top-10 reasons to put an AD’s head on a chopping block. Our AD was a very fortunate man to still have locals selling this as “accomplished” results. Those are banners hanging in McCracken. Those were Final Fours we were marching to nearly every 5 b-ball seasons for a period of almost 25 years. Of course, we had Mark Spitz back when hoops actually met higher standards. He and his 7 gold medals was basically back page news.

    Silly, silly…silly list….other than Lilly King.

  6. Retrospect is fine. Whatever. My interest is in who the next OC will be? Assuming Fred is still there when TA makes his selection, the current list of candidates is underwhelming. IU has $800,000+ to play with and this paltry list of ‘candidates’ is what pops up!?!?!
    Whoever it ends up being needs to be someone that has a history of recruiting 4* athletes + successful offensive results at a power five level or one that would translate. Yes, I know KB came from Fresno St. but none on this list is regarded in his ‘league’.

    1. …”underwhelming”…”paltry”…? I’m enthused about several on the 3 lists I’ve read as they are young, experienced, well rounded and can adapt to DeBoer’s style offense as Coach Allen has stated he wants. He’ll be the HC of the offense but it will point in the direction TA dictates.

  7. Reminded once again it’s IU football. A wanted IU OC stays 1 year. Injuries qb/players (I understand other teams have injuries) and Ramsey has done well. Overcoming IU football barriers continue. IU has its hands full trying to get 3 stars with one or two 4 stars that works out well. (There was a year more than one or two 4 stars were committed and signed didn’t work out well (resulted in some player issues that didn’t benefit IU football).

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