Unknown, Untold, and Unbelievable Stories of IU Sports

Unknown, Untold, and Unbelievable Stories of IU Sports

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253036162
Publisher: Well House Books
Publication date: 07/11/2018
Series: Well House Books Series
Pages: 152
Sales rank: 695,791
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

John C. Decker has been in and around IU Athletics for nearly 30 years. He spent 15 years covering the Hoosiers for a series of sports publications, including Inside Indiana Magazine.

Pete DiPrimio is an award-winning sports writer and author. He's won more than 40 national and local writing awards and published more than two dozen children's books.

Doug Wilson is the sports editor at the Bloomington Herald-Times and a Bloomington native.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Bloomington's best-known watering hole tells the best-known tales of Indiana University's (IU) storied athletic programs.

Take a seat in a first-floor booth at Nick's English Hut on Bloomington's iconic Kirkwood Avenue and look around. You'll see pictures of championship teams and images of legendary coaches and All-Americans. Wind past the kitchen and up the stairs, and the walls will remind you of the most famous chair ever thrown and of a swimming program that once had no equal.

But make your way to the establishment's newest addition, the second-floor bar, and you'll come across a framed football jersey that's in need of an explanation. Former IU walk-on and current Temple University Athletic Director Pat Kraft's number 47 is encased on the west wall. That jersey was worn in 1997, the first year of former coach Cam Cameron's tenure. That Indiana team went just 2-9 and won only one Big Ten game.

Also of note — Kraft's jersey is black. And basketball Coach Bob Knight hated it.

* * *

When Coach Cam Cameron took over the Indiana football program in 1997, he wanted to make dramatic changes.

The big picture for the former Hoosier quarterback turned NFL assistant coach was trying to find a winning formula for a program that had been mostly losing for generations. In its 110 years of existence, IU football had produced only two Big Ten titles — and one (1945) came before the league even bore its current name.

Recent times weren't much better. After a run of some of the program's greatest successes under Coach Bill Mallory from 1986 to 1993 (six bowl games in eight years), IU football stumbled and sank to some its greatest depths, losing 15 of 16 Big Ten games and 17 of 22 overall from 1995 to 1996.

That prompted a coaching change, and Indiana turned to the thirty-six-yearold Cameron. A 1983 Indiana University graduate who played both football and basketball, Cameron had developed a reputation as one of football's up-and-coming offensive minds thanks to his success as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan (1986 to 1993) under legendary Coach Bo Schembechler and as the quarterbacks coach for the NFL's Washington Redskins (1994 to 1996).

Cameron's immediate goal when he returned to Bloomington was to change the conversation about Indiana football.

"We were coming off a couple of years where we had gone 1–15 in the Big Ten, and everything was so negative," says former IU football media relations director Todd Starowitz. "He wanted people talking about Indiana football in a different way."

That meant making changes, both subtle and dramatic.

One of the biggest changes came during fall camp. Instead of conducting all of August's fall training camp practices on the IU campus, Cameron chose to take his team on the road for a four-day barnstorming tour around the state. Those practices — which were only given approval by the NCAA once IU pledged not to promote the sessions — were held in Indianapolis, South Bend, Evansville, Fort Wayne, and Terre Haute, all with the goal of sparking fan interest in a program that had played host to an average of fifteen thousand empty seats at its home games in 1996.

Cameron also started laying the groundwork to do away with the artificial turf that had been the playing surface of choice in IU's Memorial Stadium since 1970. That change came about in 1998, when IU switched to natural grass.

But the change that is remembered most is the decision to design and ultimately wear black uniforms.

* * *

The black uniform was part of Cameron's larger vision for IU's game-day appearance. Indiana abandoned the crimson color that had been used during Mallory's tenure, instead opting for a more traditional red that was used by most of IU's other athletic teams. The football program also adopted a new logo, one that bore a strong resemblance to one used by the San Francisco 49ers.

That logo was the first step in changing IU's game day appearance.

IU Assistant Athletic Director for Team Purchasing and Licensing Marty Clark, who was the football team's equipment manager at the time, remembers teaming with former IU marketing director David Brown in the quest to find a new logo and uniform design for the football program.

"We had made several trips to (Indianapolis apparel company) Logo Athletic, who we had a contract with, and no one really liked what we had come up with," Clark says.

"Finally, I said, 'We have to come back with something. Cam will be upset that this has dragged on so long.'"

So Clark and Brown headed to Logo Athletic unannounced, adamant about returning to Bloomington with some ideas to present to Cameron.

"We didn't have a meeting, no appointment," Brown recalls. "We just drove up and asked to see the lead designer and told him what we wanted. We basically just sat there and looked over his shoulder the whole time. I'm sure he was ready to pull his hair out."

What materialized in an afternoon of trial and error was a dual oval with an italicized IU in the middle of it. They threw in some red, added a drop shadow, and the two IU administrators' mission for that day was fulfilled.

"I just wanted to have something to bring back," Clark says.

While they had something to show, Clark was convinced Cameron would hate it. But to his surprise the first-year coach loved it. With the logo in place, IU unveiled their new uniforms soon afterward, showing off the home red and the road white jerseys at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in July 1997.

There were no black uniforms at that event, but Cameron did hint to the assembled media that a third outfit could surface in the future.

"Cam wanted a secret uniform that no one knew about, one that would be used for special occasions," Brown says.

That special occasion came quickly.

* * *

After Indiana opened the season a month later with a respectable 23–6 loss at eighth-ranked North Carolina and a 33–6 win over Ball State, the Hoosiers prepared for a home match-up with rival Kentucky. The night before the game, Brown was at a pep rally and heard rumblings Cameron wanted to wear the black uniforms.

"I pulled Cam aside at the pep rally and asked him about the rumors, and he said the players were trying to convince him to do it, but he wasn't sure yet," Brown says. "He said, 'We'll see what happens tomorrow.'"

The decision, though, appeared to have already been made. Earlier in the day, Clark says he received a call from Cameron, who said he wanted to do something special for the Kentucky game and wanted to wear the black uniforms.

There were two issues with that plan: the jerseys weren't quite finished and they were in St. Louis.

With fewer than twenty-four hours before kickoff, Clark made the eight-hour round-trip drive and picked up the jerseys himself, returning to Bloomington late that evening. By the time the players arrived Saturday morning for the 2 p.m. kickoff, the jerseys were hung in each player's locker.

"The players had a great reaction to them," Clark says. "Black was a trendy color, something different, something unique."

Pat Kraft, a player on IU's 1997 team, said he had no idea they'd be wearing black jerseys until they entered the locker room. When he did see them, he was excited.

"It was a big deal — it was different and a pretty amazing switch from what was going on in college football at the time," Kraft said. "It was so cool."

In today's era of college football, alternate uniforms are commonplace. Most credit the University of Oregon and alumnus/Nike cofounder Phil Knight with this phenomenon. But it wasn't until the mid-2000s that Oregon began consistently changing the look of its uniforms throughout the season.

Other schools and uniform companies have followed suit, including Indiana. In 2013, Indiana unveiled six helmet designs, each of which has been worn at various times during the last five seasons. The Hoosiers also wore a new "candy stripe" football jersey for a 2016 match-up against Nebraska.

But in 1997, alternative jerseys were virtually nonexistent. Other than the Notre Dame green jersey — which dates back to legendary coach Knute Rockne and the 1920s — teams wore traditional home and away jerseys almost without exception. "Back then there was no Oregon, there was no Under Armour doing different things. It was kind of a cosmic shift in what college football was doing," Kraft said. "And then the game happened."

Kentucky came to Bloomington with their own first-year head coach, Hal Mumme. But unlike Indiana, which Clark said was "basically starting over as a program," the Wildcats had Tim Couch.

The Wildcats' sophomore quarterback arrived in Lexington after a decorated high school career in the Commonwealth State. After breaking national high school records for passing completions, yards, and touchdowns, he was tabbed as USA Today's National Offensive Player of the Year in 1995 as a high school senior and later tabbed as ESPN.com's sixth-best high school athlete ever (as a high school basketball player he averaged 35 points per game as a junior and scored 3,023 career points).

After seeing limited playing time as a freshman under former Coach Bill Curry, Couch blossomed in Mumme's pass-oriented offense. He threw for a school-record 398 yards in UK's 1997 season-opening win against Louisville and then threw four touchdowns in a week 2 loss at Mississippi State.

But his biggest fireworks were saved for Bloomington.

Couch threw for a Southeastern Conference record 7 touchdowns and 334 yards as Kentucky crushed the new-look Hoosiers, 49–7, the most lopsided victory in the series' history. While Couch was busy rewriting the UK, SEC, and Memorial Stadium record books, Brown had zero doubt about what he was witnessing from the Memorial Stadium sidelines.

"We went out there and got our asses kicked," Brown says. "We looked terrible."

At the game's conclusion, Hoosier players, coaches, and staff retreated to the Memorial Stadium locker room. Indiana's new look had done nothing to avoid the same old result for the long-suffering football program, and that September Saturday would prove to be the one and only time IU would wear the black uniforms.

But that's not where the story ends.

* * *

While Clark was disappointed in the game's result, he assumed there would be other games and better results for the black jerseys as Cameron went about building the IU program. That all changed, though, when one of Cameron's staff members — Special Assistant Dusty Rutledge — entered the locker room with a message.

"Dusty comes in probably thirty minutes after the game and said, 'You have to get these (black) uniforms laundered up now,'" Clark says. "My reaction was, 'What are you talking about?'"

Rutledge told Clark he'd talked to Cameron, who had just heard from Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight. Knight — who had coached Cameron from 1981 to 1983 and was very much in support of his hiring — had shared his thoughts on IU's uniforms immediately after the game's conclusion. "(Knight) was upset," Clark says. "He told Cam we deserved to get our asses beat for wearing black because it's not our school color." But Knight didn't stop at sharing his opinion on the color of the uniforms. He didn't want to see those uniforms on the IU players again. And to ensure his request was honored, he demanded the uniforms be gathered and brought to his house.

Immediately.

"So I stayed, laundered them up, and boxed them up," Clark says. "And Dusty took them from me that night and took them to Coach Knight's garage."

Clark laughs at the fact that the highly anticipated jerseys were in St. Louis Friday night and were then banished from circulation twenty-four hours. But once they were in Knight's possession, no one in the know thought there was any chance they'd ever return.

"That was the end of the black experiment," Starowitz says.

"We never saw [the jerseys] again," Kraft says. "No one really brought them up, and as players you're curious, but at the same time, you're not. You're getting ready for the next game.

"But there was some talk in the locker room swirling around that someone wasn't very happy we wore them."

Rumors and whispers, though, were never enough to publicly produce the truth behind the reason for their disappearance. Cameron talked publicly about the fact Indiana wouldn't wear the black uniforms again but wasn't entirely forthcoming about the reasons for the decision.

If anything, Cameron's words sounded more like a public apology for concocting the idea in the first place.

"That wasn't real smart on my part," Cameron said at his weekly press conference three days after the UK defeat. "That's one thing I wouldn't do again. Indiana's colors are red and white and those are the colors you're going to see on Indiana football from now on.

"I looked out there and said, 'What the heck. That's not Indiana. What are we doing?'"

With those words, any thoughts of having the black uniforms reappear was put to rest publicly.

"They were gone forever — vanished," Kraft says.

But that's still not where the story ends.

The jerseys were gone, yes. But forever? No.

* * *

According to both Starowitz and Clark, the jerseys remained in Knight's garage for the next three years. Then came the fall of 2000, and Knight's dismissal as the Hoosiers' basketball coach.

Knight, the legendary and volatile IU basketball coach who led the Hoosiers to three national titles, had run afoul of former IU President Myles Brand. After a practice video surfaced in the spring of 2000 showing Knight putting his hands on a player's neck, Brand issued a nebulous "zero tolerance" policy for Knight's future behavior.

After a new allegation surfaced in the fall concerning an altercation between Knight and an IU student, Brand fired Knight, bringing an end to his twenty-nine-year run in Bloomington.

Six months later Knight was hired by Texas Tech to take over its basketball program, precipitating a move from his Bloomington home to Lubbock, Texas.

By this time, Cameron was in the midst of his fourth year (of his five-year tenure) with the Hoosiers, and the black jerseys had long been forgotten. But they resurfaced soon after Knight's dismissal, much to the surprise of Clark.

"They mysteriously showed back up here," Clark says. "One day, there were boxes of them, dropped off in the (basement) of Assembly Hall."

Clark insists he doesn't know who brought them, or how they made their way back into IU's possession. He has his suspicions, but all are only best guesses, with the caveat he knows it wasn't Knight who returned them following his dismissal.

Brown, meanwhile, isn't necessarily sure how they got from Knight's house back to the IU Athletics Department either, but he does know how one of those forgotten jerseys ended up in his possession.

By 2000, Brown was no longer employed by the IU Athletics Department, having become the assistant athletic director for marketing at Ohio State in 1999. He returned to Bloomington the weekend of September 29, 2001, with the Ohio State administration for the IU-OSU football game and met up with then IU marketing director David Lovell, whom Brown had previously hired as his assistant.

"He says, 'Hey, I've got something for you,'" Brown says.

What Lovell had was an assortment of the black jerseys with the IU logo that Brown had helped bring to the program. Brown went through the box looking for one from an IU player of note. But that team was devoid of many superstars; the best known were defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (who spent eleven years in the NFL and was named to the 2004 Pro Bowl) and quarterback Jay Rodgers (who is now the defensive line coach for the Chicago Bears).

Brown ended up settling on a jersey of a player who didn't even dress for that game — Antwaan Randle El.

A freshman in 1997, Randle El sat out the season after being a partial academic qualifier out of high school. He made his way onto the field in 1998 and was Cameron's starting quarterback for the next four years. During those four seasons, Randle El was one of the country's most dynamic players, earning 2001 Big Ten MVP honors. He currently ranks sixth in Big Ten history with 11,364 yards of total offense and second on IU's all-time lists in both rushing yards (3,895) and passing yards (7,469).

While Randle El is a prominent name in IU's record books, his unworn black uniform is almost as well hidden now in Brown's house as it was when it was tucked away in Knight's garage.

"That jersey is still hanging up in my closet as we speak," Brown says. "I'm not real sure why that jersey even exists since Antwaan couldn't play that year, but I've got it."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Unknown, Untold, and Unbelievable Stories of IU Sports"
by .
Copyright © 2018 John Decker, Pete DiPrimio, and Doug Wilson.
Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments,
Introduction,
1. Men (Temporarily) in Black / John C. Decker,
2. Block? What Block? / John C. Decker,
3. Hep Creates Tradition That Rocks / Pete DiPrimio,
4. What's the Deal with IU Football? Mark Knows / Doug Wilson,
5. Hoosier History Com-Pyled / John C. Decker,
6. Too Many to Name on Wall of Fame / Pete DiPrimio,
7. National Icons, IU Afterthoughts / John C. Decker,
8. Don't Look Down on Assembly Hall / John C. Decker,
9. Clear as a Bell How IU Secures the NCAA Track Meet / Pete DiPrimio,
10. What's the Racquet? / John C. Decker,
11. Gold Standard: Knight Assembles Team to Remember in '84 / John C. Decker,

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