Team preview: Indiana

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


College football has been Terry Hoeppner's life for most of his 58 years. But it got put on hold, albeit temporarily, after a health scare in late December.

While watching his former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hoeppner started having a strong pain in his head.

When the aching didn't go away, he went to see a Bloomington, Ind., doctor. The cause of headache: a tumor on his right temple. Three days after watching Roethlisberger taking snaps for the Steelers, Hoeppner was in surgery.

Four days later, Hoeppner was out of the hospital and thinking about football. And about life.

"It put everything in perspective," Hoeppner said. "I'm going to be a better husband, father, better coach because of this. There's a different feel about things. I won't be as uptight about a fourth-and-1 call. Yet, I'm going to be more demanding of the players because I know that we're doing it the right way."

Hoeppner had a follow-up MRI done in early May and got good news.

"Three doctors reviewed it," Hoeppner said. "One said I'm perfect. One said I'm better. One said I'm great. It's somewhere in there. I said, 'If I'm perfect, that's a lot better than I was before.' "

Hoeppner's sense of humor helped him get through the surgery and recovery.

"I don't mean to make light of it," Hoeppner said. "I say things like, 'All those fans who said I needed my head examined, they were right.' "

Some wondered about Hoeppner's head when he agreed to leave Miami (Ohio) to take over at Indiana. In the 10 years before he arrived, the Hoosiers didn't have a single winning season. Talk about your challenges.

Hoeppner's team won three games his first year. All of his assistants, including former Ball State head coach and current offensive coordinator Bill Lynch, returned for the second season.

"I am encouraged with the patience that the Hoosier nation had with me after the season," Hoeppner said. "They're being more patient with me than I am with me. I know that patience is not going to last forever. Season-ticket sales, it was a record setting year last year and we're already ahead of last year's pace. The team needs to grow in proportion to the program's growth. So far, so good. We've got a long way to go."