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Old 06-20-2007, 12:39 AM   #8
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Default Ben's college coach Hoeppner dies

Wasn't this the guy that was with Ben on draft day, the same guy that banged his fist on the table when Eli was drafted before Ben.

By Colin Dunlap
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Indiana University head football coach Terry Hoeppner, who was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's college coach at Miami (Ohio), died yesterday morning due to complications from a brain tumor.

Mr. Hoeppner, who had the tumor near his right temple removed in December 2005, had a second operation in September 2006 and took a medical leave from the Hoosiers on March 18. He was 59.

Mr. Hoeppner is survived by his wife, Jane, three children and four grandchildren.

"Coach Hoeppner has inspired me to be who I am today," Mr. Roethlisberger said in a statement. "He has been a second father, a teacher and a friend.

"He believed in me and I owe everything to him for where I am in life. I hold the deepest love and respect for him, his wife Jane and their family. He has been a role model for so many young men. I aspire to be as honorable and touch as many lives as Coach Hep. I will miss him more than words can describe."

Mr. Hoeppner guided the Hoosiers to a 9-14 record in two seasons after coaching at Miami for six seasons as head coach and 13 seasons prior to that as an assistant.

Last week, while Mr. Hoeppner was in the midst of his leave of absence, Indiana announced Bill Lynch, who has been the Hoosiers' assistant head coach and offensive coordinator since 2005, will assume head coaching duties for the 2007 season.

One local player directly affected is recent Upper St. Clair High School graduate Dane Conwell, who will be a freshman on Indiana's football team in the fall. Mr. Conwell, who played in the Big 33 Classic all-star game this past weekend, is in Bloomington and will begin summer classes on Thursday. Yesterday's news stung him.

"He was genuine," Mr. Conwell said. "Him being genuine is what sold me on Indiana. When I first talked to him, I could tell that Indiana football was a family and a group of people who were close-knit and all came together in trying to accomplish something great.

"To hear of his passing saddens me, it really does. But, I know the Indiana football family will come together and everyone will help each other get through this."

The Indiana University sports information Web site yesterday featured a section with condolences.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno said: "I admired him as a person and a football coach. I wasn't around him a whole lot since we haven't played Indiana [the past two years], but during the time I spent with him at Big Ten meetings, you could see that he was a very honest and courageous person."

Lloyd Carr, Michigan's coach, also commented, saying, "Terry Hoeppner was the embodiment of the very best qualities that are admirable in a coach. He was a man of integrity and passion; he loved his players and he loved the game. He represented the highest ideals of intercollegiate athletics. His legacy will endure, but his presence will be greatly missed.
"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Anatole France
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