Why IU fans should be thankful

Every Thanksgiving morning, I wake up and, naturally, grab the sports page of the newspaper. And every year, there’s a column talking about what sports fans have to be thankful for. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime player, an amazing moment that inspired us or just a great game that reminded us why we love sports so much.

So here’s my list, the top ten things IU fans have to be thankful for this year. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment or make your own list.

10. Devin Ebanks: There were rumors the talented swingman from New York would reconsider his commitment to IU following the resignation of Assistant Coach Rob Senderoff. But Ebanks was set on the Hoosiers all along, and officially signed his letter of intent Nov. 13.

9. Kellen Lewis not fumbling against Purdue: I’ll admit it, and maybe this is because I’ve watched too much IU football this year, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Lewis coughed up the football on one of his scampers on IU’s final drive. But, to the much delight of Hoosier nation, Lewis steadied the offense and led them to field goal range. In the biggest moment of the season, and maybe many seasons before, Lewis delivered.

8. Jane Hoeppner: As involved in the Hoosier football program as ever, Hoeppner delivered a motivational speech to the team the Tuesday before the big game. And after big win, she was the one who hung the I on the Old Oaken Bucket.

7. Greg Middleton’s breakout season: With 2.5 sacks in the bucket game, Middleton reasserted himself as a great defensive force for the Hoosiers. He led a revamped defensive line all season that at one point led the country in sacks.

6. The legacy of Terry Hoeppner: You can’t attend a football game in Memorial Stadium without feeling Hep’s presence. He reinvigorated Hoosier football, and his effect was never more prevalent than last Saturday, as the Hoosier faithful religiously chanted his name throughout IU’s 27-24 win.

5. Austin Starr’s right leg: The ever-confident Starr, who said after the game “I knew I was going to make that kick” gave IU fans a moment they haven’t experienced in years. Standing ten feet from Jane Hoeppner as Starr’s kick cleared the crossbar, it was a game, and a moment, that I’ll never forget.

4. James Hardy: There’s no way around it, Hardy’s the greatest receiver to ever suit up for the Hoosiers. After another stellar season, he now holds every major receiving record in IU history.

3. D.J. White deciding to return for his senior year: White, who was flirting with the possibility of entering the NBA Draft, decided to stay in Bloomington for one more season and make one last run at the Final Four. White’s decision, along with arrival of top-rated Eric Gordon, instantly made the Hoosiers’ favorites for the Big Ten crown.

2. The new owners of the Old Oaken Bucket: Their bitter rival, securing a bowl bid and a chance to fulfill their late coach’s dream of Playing 13… everything was on the line Saturday. And in a perfect demonstration of why college football is so great, the Hoosiers came through.

1. Eric Gordon: No explanation needed.

One comment

  1. While you’re right that no comment about Eric Gordon’s being the number one reason for IU fans to be thankful, I’d like to add one — or a few more.

    Even with a 28-point scoring average, Eric’s talents have just begun to be tapped. If he were even a little less unselfish, he could be averaging several points higher. And there will be games, when needed by the Hoosiers, when he’ll hang up 40 or more — maybe even 50. Look out Jimmy Rayl with your 56-point IU single-game record! Actually, let’s hope Eric never needs to score 50, or 40, because the other Hoosiers will provide ample scoring that Eric doesn’t need to go on an out-and-out tear.

    Up to now Eric hasn’t had to demonstrate some of his talents, such as posting up smaller — or even larger — players. Imagine the hopeless situation of a 6-2 or 6-3 player trying to guard the incredibly strong and athletic Gordon with the ball in his hands and his back to the backet. So far we’ve gotten only a few glimpses of Eric’s penetrating. I suspect there’ll come times when his ability to drive the ball with incredible strength and quickness and finish at the hoop or dish off will be a prime part of Sampson’s game plan. He easily may have stats of well above 30 points and a dozen assists plus a handful of rebounds and steals — a triple double? — before this season is over and he trots off to collect his millions in the NBA.

    I believe the guy really does have a large “S” tatooed on his chest, which is why he’s wearing the T-shirt under his jersey to hide it.

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