DECKER: Hot Topics Abound in Bloomington

It's a busy time in Bloomington, with a decision from Derrick Rose just days away...a bowl game on the line Saturday in Minneapolis...and football recruits showing renewed interest in the Hoosiers thanks to their recent run of success. takes a look at those issues and more...

How much recruiting drama can Indiana fans take?

Saturday, Chicago point guard Derrick Rose is expected to make his college choice, presumably selecting between Indiana, Memphis and Illinois. Hoosier fans are waiting to find out if the 6-2, 180-pound Simeon H.S. standout wants to team with Eric Gordon to form the nation's most heralded freshman backcourt since North Carolina inked top-10 recruits Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants in 2002.

Depending on who you talk to, Rose is all but set to announce for IU…or Memphis. But it's impossible to rule out the Illini, who welcomed Rose and his brother, Reggie, for an unofficial visit last weekend. People don't go to Champaign, Ill., for just a weekend getaway, you know.

There hasn't been the same sort of national attention on this recruiting tug-of-war as there was on Gordon's pledge to IU three weeks ago, but there's little question of Rose's ability to make a major impact from day one at the collegiate level.

It's a story that will finally come to a conclusion Saturday, just days before players can begin signing National Letters of Intent Nov. 8.


Something to debate at the water cooler…

Is Indiana better off with Rose if he's one-and-done, or might they be better served with a player such as Jordan Crawford who could be a four-year contributor?

It's debatable. Remember, Derrick is a player whose brother and advisor, Reggie, originally talked about him playing overseas for one year instead of going to college, a move that would have freed him up to sign a shoe contract (if there was someone willing to ink him to one). While it doesn't appear that's a viable option right now, even pondering that route has to suggest Rose is all-but-certain to bolt for the NBA in 2008.

Crawford, meanwhile, is a top-100 player who was a bit overlooked early on because he missed much of his senior season with an injury. He's since recovered and is spending the 2006-07 campaign at Hargrave Military Academy, one of the nation's top prep schools that will allow him to go against college-caliber competition on a daily basis.

If Rose opts to go elsewhere and IU winds up with Crawford or someone else filling its fifth slot in the '07 class, the Hoosiers won't end up with the nation's top-ranked grouping. But when fans look back four years from now, that might not be all bad…


Either Jim Tressel or Lloyd Carr might wind up coaching a national championship team this fall, but in my mind there's little doubt who the Big Ten Coach of the Year is – IU's Terry Hoeppner.

With one more win, Hoeppner will have IU headed to a bowl game for the first time since 1993. And Indiana will have done it while overcoming:

- a 2-3 start that included a loss to a I-AA team and an embarrassing 35-point loss to Wisconsin;

- Hoeppner's two-game absence to undergo brain surgery;

- James Hardy's two-game suspension in late September;

- a publicly debated quarterback change from Blake Powers to Kellen Lewis.

Hoeppner's also turned around IU's fortunes with an extremely young lineup that might feature only one or two starters that could crack the starting lineups in Ann Arbor or Columbus. Heck, even that's debatable when you think of James Hardy having to compete with Tedd Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez at OSU and Mario Manningham and Steve Breaston in Ann Arbor.

With one more win Hoeppner SHOULD be the conference's coach of the year, hands down. If Indiana can somehow manage to win two of its last three games to go 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, then Hoeppner's name has to surface as a potential National Coach of the Year candidate…


Was Saturday's 46-21 win over Michigan State the Hoosiers' most dominating performance…ever?

That's a bit of a reach, but for a 45-minute stretch, the Hoosiers couldn't have been any more dominant. After giving up an MSU touchdown on the Spartans' opening drive, IU responded with 46 unanswered points to open a 46-7 lead. While the IU offense was scoring on seven out of 12 possessions, the Hoosier defense limited the Spartans to zero first downs and 11 total yards in its next 12 possessions.

During that 45-minute stretch:

Score – Indiana 46-0

First Downs – Indiana 22, Michigan State 0

Total Offense – Indiana 401, Michigan State 11


While looking at IU's remaining three games on the 2006 football schedule, most have circled Minnesota and Purdue as potential wins for the Hoosiers. Hoeppner, meanwhile, has had the Hoosiers' Nov. 11 match-up with No. 2 Michigan circled for a year.

Before the start of last year's game in Ann Arbor, a pre-game confrontation between the teams over the Wolverines warming up on more than half of the Michigan Stadium turf left Hoeppner bristling in his post-game press conference, saying he was already looking forward to Michigan's trip to Bloomington this season.

Indiana and Hoeppner will get their chance for revenge in front of a national television audience, as IU hosts the Wolverines next Saturday, Nov. 11, at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.


IU football's recent run of success has preps of all sorts looking at the IU program.

Last weekend, a handful of highly regarded high school stars were in attendance for IU's 46-21 win over Michigan State. The most notable of the bunch were a trio of Warren Central H.S. standouts – safety Jerimy Finch, defensive lineman Jeff Boyd and tight end Adrien Robinson.

That's noteworthy because IU is trying to get the state's best recruits coming to Bloomington once again, and developing a pipeline from the powerhouse Warren Central program would be a huge step in that direction. While all three are big names in state recruiting circles, the biggest catch of the bunch would be Finch. The 6-2, 200-pound safety is the nation's eighth-ranked safety according to and arguably the state's best recruit. He verballed to Michigan late this summer, but that commitment is considered "soft," and his trip to Bloomington (along with his family) suggests he's giving IU a very serious second look.

While Hoeppner is excited by the interest players like Finch have in his program, he's also been surprised by other sorts who have suddenly taken a liking to the Hoosiers.

"Recruiting…I don't care how charming or how good a salesman you are as a coach. High school players see you play and do well…that's priceless," Hoeppner said.

"We've all had a lot of text messages and phone calls from some guys…who are interested still, or others we were hoping would get interested and he is now. And then a whole bunch of other guys who, ‘I don't start on my high school team, but I want to come to IU and play for you. Whooha, good. That's exciting." Top Stories