Jordan Wells / TheHoosier.com
Indiana will wear "Hep's Rock" alternate uniforms in a tribute to the 10-year anniversary of the passing of former head coach Terry Hoeppner.
For current IU head coach Tom Allen, the connection to Hoeppner goes beyond Saturday's gesture and his current position with the program.
It starts with Franklin College, where Allen's father, who shares the same first name as the younger Allen, and Hoeppner both player under head coach Stewart "Red" Faught. The elder Allen played at Franklin in the late 50s, while Hoeppner played in the late 60s.
Hoeppner spent 10 seasons as a high school coach before returning to his alma mater as its defensive coordinator from 1980-85. It was during that time Allen said he started to get to know Hoeppner, who then went to Miami (Ohio) after his stint at Franklin.
"I went to coach at Ben Davis, we always went to Miami to their seven-on-sevens every summer, and met with their coaching staffs," Allen said. "He was their defensive coordinator when I first met him professionally, and we ran a very similar scheme. So it was just a lot of those connections and they just grew, and he came here and I spent a lot of time with their staff and all those guys."
Hoeppner's approach to the profession both on and off the field also shaped Allen's.
"A ton of respect for him as a person, as a leader, just always respected the energy he brought," Allen said. "The kind of things I wanted to do as a coach, I modeled after him, both scheme and his approach.
"He just was a very special person, you know, and then as he proved on the field, he was a great coach, too and he understood things from both a scheme perspective and motivationally did some things that were pretty special."
Hoeppner passed away on June 19, 2007, due to complications from a brain tumor.
He was just 59 years old.
During his time at IU, he established traditions such as "The Walk," where players and coaches greet lines of fans as they enter Memorial Stadium on home gamedays, and "The Rock," a limestone boulder previously found in the practice field which was removed, installed in the north end zone of the stadium and touched by the Hoosiers before running onto the stadium's field.
"Thought he was really doing some great things and (his life was) just really tragically cut short," Allen said.
Allen said that during fall camp, the program also made a strong effort to make sure current players knew Hoeppner by bringing in a guest speaker to talk about who he was and what the impact he was making on IU.
In other words, Allen wants to ensure the players know how much Hoeppner meant to the program as much as Hoeppner meant to him.
"I just want our players to never forget and to have a great understanding of his history and what he means to our program," Allen said.
Brandon Knight expected to play Saturday
Barring any last-minute setbacks, IU junior right tackle Brandon Knight is expected to make his season debut Saturday vs. Georgia Southern.
"I think that he's progressed well and I fully expect him to play and get his first action, so he's ready to go," Allen said.
Knight has been sidelined since the beginning of August with an undisclosed injury. He played in eight games and started in six of them last year before suffering a season-ending injury, but still managed to help IU rank second in the Big Ten in passing offense and third in total offense.
However, Knight did practice and travel with the team during Virginia week.
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