As the new year approaches, The Daily Hoosier is taking a look back at the top eight IU Athletics stories of 2019.
From its signature programs to the up-and-comers, the 2019 calendar year has been a memorable one for several IU teams. There has also been major human interest news as well.
Here are The Daily Hoosier’s top Indiana Athletics stories of 2019.
8. Swim and dive continues ascent as King goes out on top. Led by the legendary Lilly King, the IU women followed a Big Ten title with a ninth overall finish at the NCAA Championships in March. It was the fifth straight top 10 NCAA finish for the Hoosier women, a program first. Indiana senior and Olympic champion King went out on top, winning every breaststroke event at the NCAA Championships over the last four years.
For the men, the program reached marks that brought to mind the glory days. The Hoosiers won a third-straight league title for the first time since 1983-85. Next, the IU men posted back-to-back top-3 finishes at the NCAA Championships for the first time in 44 years. As we reach the close of 2019, the men are once again a top five program for the 2019-20 season.
7. Men’s soccer shows stunning stability. After losing 10 of 11 starters from last year’s College Cup semifinalist squad, head coach Todd Yeagley and his staff had to reload. With 12 newcomers on the roster and facing the most uncertainty the program had seen in years coming into the season, the Hoosiers simply did what they seemingly always do. They won. For the tenth time in program history and for the second consecutive season, the IU men’s soccer program doubled up on Big Ten titles, winning both the league regular season and tournament crowns.
6. A fast start for new IU baseball coach Jeff Mercer. The top new IU coach in 2019 was no doubt baseball’s Jeff Mercer. With standards that were set by Tracy Smith and Chris Lemonis, the pressure was on for Mercer to step in and deliver from day one. All the Indiana native and lifelong IU fan head coach did was lead the Hoosiers to 37 wins, a third straight NCAA Tournament regional and a regular season Big Ten title.
5. Men’s basketball comes full circle. Coming into 2019 the Hoosiers were flying high with an 11-2 record and ranked in the top 25. It didn’t take long for the wheels to come off, and year two under head coach Archie Miller ended in disappointment as the Hoosiers missed the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. Now 12 games into the 2019-20 season, Miller once again his club off to a fast start with an 11-1 record. Has the program turned a corner under Miller, or is this the calm before the storm once again? That is the big question as the calendar gets set to turn to 2020.
4. Women’s basketball reaching all-time levels. A 2018 NIT title felt like a climatic moment, but it was only the beginning for the IU women’s basketball program. A year later head coach Teri Moren’s squad reached the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament and the rise has continued thus far during the 2019-20 campaign. After claiming a win over No. 5 South Carolina, the program’s first top five win in a decade, IU reached its highest national ranking ever at No. 12. The Hoosiers now set their sights on their first Big Ten title since 1983.
3. Director of Athletics Fred Glass set to retire. In a somewhat surprising move, Indiana Director of Athletics Fred Glass decided to retire at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. For many of the reasons highlighted in this story, Glass will leave IU Athletics in a much better place than where he found it. However, while there are many positives to cull from Glass’ tenure, his success or failure at Indiana will largely be defined by the success or failure of one man — Archie Miller — and that’s a story that will continue to be written after Glass steps away in May.
2. Bob Knight returns to the IU campus and Bloomington. While he had been on the IU campus privately on multiple occasions after being fired by the school in 2000, former head coach and Indiana legend Bob Knight had never returned in any kind of public capacity. And he had previously vowed to never do so. That changed in April when Knight showed up at an Indiana baseball game at Bart Kaufman Field. A few months later it became public that Knight had purchased a home in Bloomington, and he has since been seen all over the city that he previously called home for 30 years.
1. Indiana football records first eight win season since 1993. Head coach Tom Allen got IU over the hump in 2019, perhaps a year ahead of schedule. After back-to-back 5-7 seasons, bowl eligibility would have been enough to deem the 2019 campaign a success. Allen’s squad got that wrapped up in October after a memorable win over Nebraska. But that was just the beginning, as the Hoosiers attained an eight win season and a winning record in the Big Ten both for the first time since 1993, and a national ranking for the first time since 1994. IU also claimed a win over Purdue for the fifth time in the last seven years as the Old Oaken Bucket returned to Bloomington.
Led by a new coordinator and strong seasons by two quarterbacks, the IU offense led the way in 2019. Michael Penix navigated through an injury plagued campaign but thrived as the starter when healthy in Kalen DeBoer’s system, going 110-of-160 (68.8%) passing for 1,394 yards, 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Filling in admirably for Penix when duty called, the resilient Peyton Ramsey went 184-of-266 (69.2%) passing for 2,227 yards, 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Indiana’s reward was a first ever trip to Florida for a bowl game and just the third January bowl game in program history. The Hoosiers will face Tennessee on Jan. 2 at The Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
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