Terry Hoeppner isn't going to change.
The third-year Hoosier coach isn't going to change his approach to who he recruits and how he and his staff recruit. He's also not about to question why a very good 2007 class isn't even better due to a big fish or two that got away in the final days and hours before yesterday's National Letter of Intent Signing Day.
"I wouldn't change anything I did or the staff did in the last six weeks," Hoeppner said Wednesday. "We are going to continue to be the guys with the white hats on and do things the right way. If that doesn't work, then I'll be disappointed in the system."
While never addressing the Jerimy Finch situation directly, it's apparent the Hoosier head coach was less than thrilled by what unfolded in the final days of the Warren Central H.S. safety's recruitment. After verballing to Indiana in mid-January, Finch wound up taking a last-minute official visit to Florida and eventually signed with Coach Urban Meyer's national championship program.
In today's Gainesville Sun, Meyer said he hadn't even seen Finch on film before asking him to take an official visit. But in the newspaper's story Meyer said he made contact with Warren Central H.S. Coach Steve Tutsie, and before he knew it, he had his foot in the door with one of the nation's top safeties – and IU's marquee recruit.
"I called (Tutsie), and he said, 'Coach, you'll never believe this, but we just finished talking about Florida.' He played in the Orlando all-star game, and the kid loves Florida," Meyer said.
"Five minutes later, I was on the phone with (Finch). Without watching one speck of tape on him, I asked him if he wanted to come down for a visit. We thought he was a great kid and a good-looking safety, and his tape just solidified it. We offered him, and he decided to come. It's unbelievable because I didn't go to Indiana once the whole time."
Whether the Hoosier head coach was upset with Florida or Tutsie or other "influencers," as Hoeppner termed them, it was clear he wasn't enamored with how things unfolded.
"There were opportunities to pick up a handful of mud and sling it, but to a man, (the Indiana assistant coaches) all took the high road," Hoeppner said.
"You don't know with an 18, 19-year-old guy, what's going to help him make the decision or what's going to influence him to make the decision," Hoeppner said. "We're going to stay positive, take the high road."
Losing Finch was certainly a disappointing development for Hoeppner and his staff, the IU head coach still had plenty of reasons to smile about the 19 players that did sign letters of intent to play in Bloomington. He said it's a class that addresses needs across the board, will provide quality depth, and has a handful of players who could challenge for immediate playing time as true freshmen.
"If you showed me this list Dec. 1 and said you'll wind up with these guys, I'd say, ‘take them,'" Hoeppner said.
HEP: "We're Taking the High Road"
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