I just had to go and pay Terry Hutchens a compliment. Serves me right. Hutch, best known for sticking his thumb in IU fans' eyes in his former role as Mike Davis's "Baghdad Bob," Terry used the Fourth of July holiday to advocate for adding names to the IU basketball jerseys. Hutchens, believe it or not, is an IU graduate. I was stunned when I learned that late in the Davis era. Hutch often makes mention of his California upbringing, but rarely mentions that he graduated from IU. To make matters worse, Hutch graduated from IU in 1989. Not only did he witness the program win big (the 1987 championship), he was at IU for Knight's greatest coaching accomplishments. The 1987 team is the only NCAA champ since the advent of the NBA to win the NCAA title without a future NBA first round draft pick. Also, IU won the 1989 Big Ten title outright (over the Flyin' Illini and eventual NCAA champ Michigan) with Jay Edwards and a bunch of role players. During the Davis era, Hutch never seemed to understand the fans' expectation that IU be among the handful of elite programs or the value that a coach can add to a program. When I learned that Hutch had graduated from IU and when, it became even more incomprehensible.
Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that Hutchens decided to play the contrarian here. A few highlights:
You've got to keep the candy-striped warmups, you've got to play almost exclusively man-to-man defense, and you have to take a long look at those five national championship banners everytime you step in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall.
Good start. God forbid that IU fans show reverence for the program's history and brag that we have more titles than every school except UCLA and Kentucky.
I just think in the 21st Century kids today are different than they were when all of these traditions were established. And while I think it's still a prestige thing to wear the IU uniform (especially for the in-state kids) I just think having the names on the jersey would take that to another level. And I think if you asked most players, that is something they'd like to see at Indiana. Look around the Big Ten, and you see it at a lot of different programs. Look around the country and it's the same thing. I just don't see the harm in bucking tradition and giving IU basketball a different look.
Yes, lots of schools have names on their jerseys. Practically all of them, including Northwestern and Penn State. One of the reasons IU fans treasure the tradition is because hardly any other school omits the names. IU fans like the unchanging simplicity of the uniforms and like the sentiment of playing for the "name on the front of the jersey." That's the "harm." Really, that's what a tradition is: doing something that no one else does or that no one else does anymore.
The best part of this passage:
I think if you asked most players, that is something they'd like to see at Indiana.
How would Terry Hutchens ever find the answer to this question? If only Terry knew someone, such as a professional, full-time journalist, who had access to this information or the ability to ask players such questions. Oh well. I suppose the answers are lost to history.
Terry then lists the marketing benefits of selling jerseys with the players' names, until a reader pointed out that such sales are impermissible under NCAA rules. And again, the IU beat writer for the state's largest paper says:
And while you might think that something as small has putting names on jerseys wouldn't have anything to do with success in recruiting, you might be mistaken. I have two teenage boys and I know the things that are important to them. They like glitz.
That's between you and your kids, Terry. In the last two recruiting classes, IU has landed highly regarded players from New York, the Bay Area, and many points in between. Again, you're the professional, Hutch. You tell us if it has any impact on recruiting. The task won't require deciphering ancient texts written in dead languages. It should be as simple as asking around.
One other thing it might allow IU to be able to do is somehow recognize the great players who have played for the Hoosiers over the years. IU has never retired basketball uniforms, but maybe if you could put a name on the back of a certain jersey and hang it in the rafters as a means of honoring IU players of the past you could do that without actually retiring the jersey. I'm not sure this is something you would need to do along with putting names on the back of uniforms or not, but again it just seems like something that should be done. You go to other gyms of storied programs and you see it, but there's nothing like that at IU.
IU does plenty to recognize former players. IU has a Hall of Fame. There was an all-century team a couple of years ago. Many greats come back to the Hall regularly. There are all sorts of photos and such around Assembly Hall. Again, however, and this is something Hutch admits he doesn't get: most IU fans think the best way to honor great players is to honor the accomplishments of their teams.
IU has many great traditions, yet Hutch elects to complain about the traditions we have and pine for the traditions we don't have. It's pretty pathetic but sadly typical of the lead IU writer for the state's largest paper.