Quite a year

Dear loyal Hoosier Scoopers,

It is with great regret that I must inform you all that this will be my last post on the Scoop. (Please, hold your cheers). Graduation comes Saturday, and barring a miracle, I will be leaving Indiana University with two degrees and as great of a college experience as I could have ever hoped for. I start that whole “job” thing in a few weeks.

I paused the other day to reflect on the year I’ve spent covering the Hoosiers. What a crazy, unique year it was. We saw it all, from a game-winning field goal that won the Oaken Bucket to the Phonegate scandal to the ushering in of the Crean and Crimson era of IU basketball.

I feel that, although I’ve only covered the Hoosiers for ten months, I’m leaving with about six years of experience. There were some exhilarating moments that I’ll never forget, none more than standing ten feet away from a teary-eyed Jane Hoeppner as Austin Starr’s kick split the uprights. There was the never-ending day at Assembly Hall, as a throng of sports reporters, myself included, spent nearly ten hours waiting for the Kelvin Sampson resignation to transpire as we tried to separate fact from rumor all afternoon and into the night. And lastly, there was the opportunity to have a lengthy chat with Tom Crean outside his hotel in Bloomington the night he was hired as Indiana’s new basketball coach.

One of my favorite things over the past year has been the tremendous interaction we’ve been able to generate on the Scoop. That’s one of the many benefits of covering a program like Indiana—the fan base is so involved and interested that it makes your job a lot of fun.

So, I figured I’d go out just as I came in: leaving you with some questions that will stir up some good-natured debate.

Take it easy, and as always, thanks for your input.

Zak

___

Considering the IU football and basketball season this past year…

1. What was the best moment? (A few suggestions, in no particular order)

  • The ceremony honoring Terry Hoeppner before IU’s first home game of the 2007 season
  • Austin Starr’s 49-yard field goal against Purdue to capture the Old Oaken Bucket
  • IU’s selection to face Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl on New Year’s Eve
  • Austin Starr’s first down run in the Insight Bowl
  • Bill Lynch’s contract extension as IU’s football coach
  • Eric Gordon’s banked-in three-pointer helps IU escape Illinois with a win on Jan. 13
  • Indiana’s 80-61 drubbing of Michigan State on Feb. 16
  • D.J. White’s senior night ovation at Assembly Hall
  • D.J. White being named Big Ten Player of the Year
  • The announcement that Tom Crean would be IU’s new basketball coach
  • Tracy Porter and James Hardy being selected in Round 2 of the NFL Draft


2. What was the worst moment?

  • IU’s internal investigation produces more recruiting violations by Kelvin Sampson
  • IU’s 49-33 loss to Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl on New Year’s Eve
  • NCAA findings that Kelvin Sampson’s recruiting transgressions were ‘major’
  • Seven players, including captain D.J. White, miss Dan Dakich’s first practice as coach
  • Sampson’s resigns as head coach and leaves with a $750,000 settlement
  • Minnesota’s Blake Hoffarber’s game-winner to knock IU out of the Big Ten Tourney
  • Indiana’s 86-72 loss to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
  • News that Kellen Lewis would miss spring practice for the Hoosiers, and maybe more


3. What was the best individual performance by an IU player in a single game?

  • Kellen Lewis: 199 yards rushing yards, 137 passing yards and 5 TDs against Akron
  • Jammie Kirlew: nine tackles, 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss at Iowa
  • James Hardy: 14 catches for 142 yards and two scores against Penn State on Oct. 20
  • Eric Gordon: 33 points in his college debut against Chattanooga on Nov. 12
  • D.J. White: 21 points and 22 rebounds at Michigan on Jan. 8

4. Who or what was the biggest surprise?

  • The football squad playing in their first bowl game in 13 years
  • Greg Middleton: a school record 16 sacks, first team All-Big Ten honors
  • Kelvin Sampsons’ inability to stay off his cell phone (again)
  • Jordan Crawford averaging 9.7 points a game
  • D.J. White winning Big Ten Player of the Year honors
  • Dan Dakich: Director of Basketball Operations to interim head coach in five months
  • Tom Crean being named IU’s new basketball coach

5. What was the biggest disappointment?

  • The Big Ten Network
  • IU recruit Bud Mackey is arrested and charged with possession of cocaine
  • Indiana’s performance in the Insight Bowl
  • IU’s 3-4 record under interim coach Dan Dakich to close out the season
  • The Hoosiers (football or basketball) not winning a post-season game
  • The end of the Kelvin Sampson Era
  • Eric Gordon’s play down the stretch
  • Devin Ebanks and Terrell Holloway opt out of letters of intent to play for other schools

17 comments

  1. I will miss your questions. This last question is too tough for me to handle. Simply said….all of the above.

    Can I ask……where, and what you will be doing? Good luck to you in your future endeavors. Your last months in service for the HT have been a resume’ builder. I have enjoyed your comments.

  2. Zak, I want to thank you publicly for all of your great work. We’ve been very fortunate to have several really talented, hard-working interns from IU the last couple of years and you’ve certainly added to that tradition.

    Hopefully you’ll one day overcome the experience of working with us and make something of yourself.

  3. Out here in Arizona, I will greatly miss your informative posts. I sure hope someone else will be able to pick up the ball and it to Hoosier Nation. I particularly enjoyed the live on-line broadcasts of the Sampson resignation and the hiring of Crean. Best wishes in your working life!

  4. ww,

    I’ll be continuing my journalistic endeavors as a sportswriter for the Daily-Reporter in Greenfield. I’m sure my time at the H-T will help down the line.

    And also, no responses to those questions? I figured Mike P would have been all over those football answers.

  5. Zak,

    I attended IU in ’78 and ’79 but did far too many stupid things (uh yeah, they included alcohol!) and ended up quitting; however, I distinctly remember never missing an Assembly Hall game. I never got really good at understanding the ins and outs of the game as I focused on the “hysteria” instead. I followed the Hoosiers off and on through the years but eventually gave up when Bob Knight was ousted.

    When my daughter decided to attend IU, I was ecstatic! I will never forget the excitement in her voice when she called me from Midnight Madness and said, “Guess where I am!” I could actually feel the excitement of the night through the phone line! The Gordon/Sampson talk had us drooling and I saw this as another chance to “learn” the game. While the G/S stuff didn’t turn out like we had hoped, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have learned from you and the gang. I appreciate and value all you have given and given up to help this 47 year old Mom get back in the game.

    As for my most memorable (best) moment of the season, it has to be that night way back in October when all was right with the world. Who knew that in such a short period of time, one could become addicted to blog sites like it was TV coverage of the Gulf War or the OJ Simpson trial!!

    As this is my first season back, can you please tell me what the protocol is after finals week. Please tell me there is some kind of communication from this blog as I am well and truly addicted!

    Thanks again Zak and good luck in the future!

  6. Zak,

    I have really enjoyed reading your work this year, even when I didn’t agree with you. As for the questions, I had not had a chance to look at them, we are remodeling at home, and it is cutting into my scoop time.

    My best moment of this past year would be watching Austin Star’s kick sail through the goal post to seal the win against Purdue, and listening to the collective sigh of relief followed by the roar of the crowd.

    The worst moment of this year you don’t have on your list. I would say because it technically happen end between the “school years” but that would be the loss off Coach Hep. A close second would be the Sampson issues putting more tarnish on the basketball program.

    The best individual performance? Man that is a tough one. I will discount James Hardy’s performance for one reason. If the QB doesn’t get the ball in position, the receiver doesn’t get the opportunity to make those catches. Eric Gordon and Kellen Lewis are out due to the level of competition they put their numbers up against.

    That leaves D.J. White vs. Michigan and Jammie Kirlew vs. Iowa. Kirlew’s numbers are fantastic, and being a defensive guy, the are really hard to look past when thinking of how had the best performance, but I will digress. Football is a team sport all around. For one player to have a break out game like that, everyone else had to do their jobs to perfection.

    That puts my vote to D.J. White. Most his points came from rebounds, and those he just out worked everyone on the court.

    My biggest surprise this year had to be Jordan Crawford. Second would be Tom Crean becoming the coach. The rest were pretty well a foreseeable occurrence.

    My personal pick for biggest disappointment is the play at the Insight Bowl. I am a football guy through and through, and I as a fan I wanted so much more from this team.

    There you go Zak, good luck in your future jobs, and drop by here and say hi when you get the chance.

    Mike P.

  7. Zak,

    Thanks for your contributions here and for stirring the pot. What a long strange year it’s been for sure! Best wishes now and in the future. 🙂

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