Top 10 sports stories of fall 2010


Washington, Ind. high school senior Cody Zellar signs his letter of intent to IU on Nov. 11 in the Washington High School basketball gym. Courtney Deckard Buy Photos

1. Cody Zeller commits to IU

Date: Nov. 11

Cody Zeller, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Washington High School in Indiana and 5-star recruit for the 2011 class, committed to the IU men’s basketball team at his school’s Hatchet House gym.  

For two years, Hoosier fans have wondered when the IU basketball team will be back — back to contending for Big Ten titles and back to competing in the NCAA Tournament. When Zeller committed to IU, that answer started becoming clearer: The Hoosiers could be back very soon.

The symbolic nature of the commitment may be most important: IU coach Tom Crean out-recruited North Carolina and Butler for one of the state’s top talents. Further, Zeller was the kingpin of a recruiting haul this semester that featured highly rated recruits committing to IU through 2014.

2. Bill Lynch fired as football coach

Date: Nov. 28

Just a day after the Hoosiers reclaimed the Old Oaken Bucket with an overtime victory against Purdue in West Lafayette, IU Athletics Director Fred Glass announced during an afternoon press conference that he had dismissed the four-year coach.
Lynch went 19-30 at IU and won three Big Ten games in his last three seasons.

Significance: Lynch’s firing was perhaps the latest and most resounding indicator of Glass’ commitment to IU’s football program. A year after the athletics director publicly stated he would retain Lynch through the remainder of his contract, Glass said in the press conference that three conference victories in three years “isn’t the basis for an extension.” Glass added that he would personally conduct a nationwide search for the Hoosiers’ next coach.

3. Kevin Wilson hired as football coach

Date: Dec. 7

It took just nine days for IU Athletics Director Fred Glass to find his guy. His name is Kevin Wilson, the Oklahoma offensive coordinator. Wilson was introduced as the next IU football coach at a press conference Tuesday, replacing fired coach Bill Lynch.

Significance: Glass said he was committed to making the IU football team competitive in the Big Ten, and the contract numbers alone illustrate that commitment. Wilson received a seven-year, $8.4 million dollar contract. The annual payout — $1.2 million per year — is $541,250 more than what Lynch made.

4. Men’s soccer wins Big Ten

Date: Oct. 31

With a 3-2 comeback win against Northwestern at Bill Armstrong Stadium, the Hoosiers clinched their 14th Big Ten regular season title. Less than two weeks later, Yeagley earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in his first year as coach, and junior forward Will Bruin, whose 15 regular season goals tied for the most in the conference, was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

Significance: Following the dismissal of former coach Mike Freitag last December after the first 10-loss season in program history, IU hired the son of six-time national champion coach Jerry Yeagley to restore the luster of the historically dominant men’s soccer program. The Hoosiers hadn’t won a Big Ten regular season title since 2007 before Todd Yeagley led the team to a 4-1-1 Big Ten record and the conference’s regular season crown, which perhaps marked the beginning of IU men’s soccer’s return to national prominence.

5. Volleyball team reaches Sweet 16 for first time

Date: Dec. 4

In dramatic five-set fashion, the IU volleyball team defeated Tennessee at University Gym  to advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

Significance: When current coach Sherry Dunbar arrived in 2007, she took control of a program that had five Big Ten wins and 55 Big Ten losses in the previous three seasons.

The program has changed quickly. Led by All-American senior Ashley Benson, arguably one of the best IU female athletes of the decade, the Hoosiers qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002.

6. Hanner Perea commits to IU

Date: Oct. 31

Hanner Perea, a 6-foot-8 forward from La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Ind., verbally committed to play college basketball for the Hoosiers beginning in 2012. Perea joined fellow high school juniors, center Peter Jurkin and guard Ron Patterson, as the third addition to IU coach Tom Crean’s 2012 recruiting class.

Significance: Ranked No. 10 overall in the 2012 class by, Perea was the highest-ranked recruit to commit to IU since Eric Gordon, whom listed No. 2 overall in 2007. Perea’s commitment put the Hoosiers in the mix to have the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2012.

7. Men’s cross country finishes 7th at NCAA Championships

Nov. 22

Led by All-American junior Andrew Poore, the IU men’s cross country team finished 7th in the NCAA Championships. It was the team’s highest finish since 1977.

Significance: With one senior on the roster — and none on the seven-man lineup that competed in the NCAA Championships — this IU team may top its own performance next year.

8. IU takes back Old Oaken Bucket from Boilermakers

Date: Nov. 27

Redshirt freshman kicker Mitch Ewald kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime to give the Hoosiers a 34-31 victory against rival Purdue.

During Purdue’s first offensive drive in overtime, junior linebacker Jeff Thomas intercepted Purdue quarterback Rob Henry to set up IU’s first and only Big Ten win of 2010.  The victory ended the season on a high note, after a year in which the Hoosiers finished 5-7 and without a bowl berth.

The win marked IU’s first triumph in West Lafayette since 1996 as well as its first Big Ten road victory since 2007.

The game would ultimately be Bill Lynch’s last as IU coach; the win gave him just three total conference victories in his final three seasons.

9. Football loses to Wisconsin

Date: Nov. 13

Wisconsin put up 83 points on IU — the highest point total in a Big Ten game since 1950. The Badgers used second- and third-string players for much of the second half and piled on points without much
challenge from IU.

This may have signaled the beginning of the end for the Bill Lynch era at IU. It was the most points ever allowed by a Hoosier team and tied a 1915 defeat for the worst loss in program history.

10. Women’s basketball upsets No. 24 Nebraska

Date: Dec. 5

The Hoosiers rode 17 offensive rebounds and a four-point run in the final minute of play to claim a 67-61 victory against the Cornhuskers at Assembly Hall. Senior guard Whitney Lindsay hit a reverse layup and drew a foul with 1:14 remaining to spark IU’s run.

Significance: IU snapped Nebraska’s 37-game winning streak in regular-season contests, which dated back to Feb. 28, 2009. The win was also the Hoosiers’ first against a ranked opponent since last season’s upset of No. 4 Ohio State at Assembly Hall.  

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