During the darkest period of Indiana football, it was often said that football at IU was just a distraction for Hoosier fans until basketball season began. p>
This year that's wrong on more than one count. The football team is supposed to be better and could potentially be a bowl team for just the second time in the last 20 years.
And basketball opens practice this season in September before the football Hoosiers even begin Big Ten play.
In fact, IU hoops will hold Hoosier Hysteria on the second possible weekend and the football Hoosiers still will not have opened conference play.
On his Twitter feed earlier this week, Tom Crean announced that Hoosier Hysteria is on Friday night, Oct. 4. IU plays host to Penn State in football the next day. That weekend is also Hall of Fame weekend at Indiana.
In May, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors finalized a proposal that would allow men's basketball teams to begin their first practice up two weeks earlier than in the past beginning this fall.
Basically, men's basketball teams now are allowed to conduct 30 days of practice in the six weeks before their first regular season games. In the past, practice began about four weeks before the regular season opener.
This has to be good for a young team like the Hoosiers. The coaching staff will get more meaningful time with them earlier in the process. Considering that IU is going to need a significant contribution from the six-man incoming freshman class that could be huge.
Selfishly – and I know, it's all about me – I'm always happy to see Hoosier Hysteria fall on a home football weekend. Hoosier Hysteria, once known as Midnight Madness at IU, is an event. It's a place where you need to be. There have been a few times over the years where I have covered the event, then got in a car and headed for a four or five hour drive to a Big Ten city for a conference road football game.
When Hoosier Hysteria and football are both home, it's just makes for a much smoother weekend.
But I must admit it's going to have an odd feeling to it being in Assembly Hall the first week in October. And to think it could have been the last week in September is just that much odder.
And if the Hoosiers are able to open the season 4-0 in non-conference – which is always a big ‘if'—they would be unbeaten when basketball Hoosiers have started practice for the first time since 1990. That year, IU was 4-0 going into a Oct. 13 home game against No. 22 Ohio State. That game ended in a 27-27 tie. The following week, Oct. 20, IU dropped it first game of the season to Minnesota. The Hoosiers went on to play in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. The important thing is that Indiana basketball is starting early and the IU football and basketball teams are both home the weekend that IU holds Hoosier Hysteria.
It doesn't get any better than that.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch